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3 Notebooks For Under $1,000

With $1,000 in your pocket and a notebook on your mind, you might think your options are pretty limited. Think again: You can buy a mighty capable portable for under a grand, one that's suitable for the office, the road, or both.

3 Low-Cost Notebooks

•  Acer Aspire 9300

•  Gateway NX570X

•  HP Compaq 6515b

I went shopping for models priced at $1,000 or less and wound up with three: the Acer Aspire 9300-5005, Gateway NX570X, and HP Compaq 6515b. They're all solidly built, well-rounded notebooks, with impressive specs given their wallet-friendly price tags. So what's the catch? In a word: Vista. The resource-hungry OS gets stuck in the mud with anything less than 1GB of RAM, and while all three machines come with that much, all have to lend a portion to their graphics subsystems. Translation: They all feel slow. If you're concerned about performance, plan on upgrading to 2GB (which is easier on some systems than others).

Except for their price tags and memory shortcomings, the three models have little in common. The Acer Aspire is a desktop replacement, plain and simple, with a huge screen, big hard drive, and webcam. The Compaq 6515b is for corporate road-warriors who prize security and connectivity, while the Gateway NX570X caters to buyers who like to customize everything. There's not a bad system in the lot; all you have to do is choose the style that suits you best.

Acer Aspire 9300-5005
A lap? Maybe. A backpack? Probably not. A coach-seat tray table? Fuhgeddaboudit. Acer's mammoth Aspire 9300-5005 was born and bred for desk duty, not travel. The machine measures 15.7 x 11.6 x 1.7 inches and weighs 8.1 pounds, not including its 1.3-pound AC adapter. So don't plan on taking it anywhere unless you've been working out -- and have a really big carrying case.

(Click image to enlarge.)
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