Five Cool Laptops Under $500

Laptop prices continue to drop, giving consumers more computing bang for their buck. Here are five affordable options worth looking into.

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To go: The Dell Vostro V13 is among the top laptops on the market for under $500.There is a laptop out there with your name on it, and you don't have to take out a second mortgage to get it. The under-$500 price point tends to push entrepreneurs over to the consumer side of the laptop aisle, but that's OK. These machines are capable and portable. And did we mention they're cheap? If you look for sales and rebates and determine which specs you really need, a sub-$500 laptop is definitely possible. Here are five worth looking into.

Asus has long been a big mover and shaker in the netbook world. The buzzwords here are small, cheap, portable and long battery life. A 10-inch screen, 250 GB hard drive, built-in webcam, and battery life that can hit the 8-hour mark (on a good day) are all solid netbook features. The brushed metal top makes this particular netbook look a lot classier than the plastic-clad models that came before. You won't be shy about showing it off at the next office meeting.

, $499.99

This price point isn't limited to just netbooks. This HP packs some good looks around a 15.6-inch screen. When the color is called "biscotti," you know you must be styling. We priced it with a rebate and some special upgrade offers from HP that brought the memory up to 4 GB and the hard drive to 320 GB. One advantage over a netbook is the inclusion of a DVD burner. You also get about five hours of battery life with a 5.5 pound heft. This is a solid choice for business users looking for an inexpensive full-size laptop.

The Dell Vostro V13 is thin, light, sleek and oh-so sexy. The aluminum body is executive chic at its best. It has a 13.3-inch display that positions it right between netbooks and mainstream notebooks, and its 3.5 pounds are more than reasonable for road warriors. The most basic package starts at $449 with 2 GB of memory and a 250 GB hard drive. Of course, there is a catch. That $449 model comes with Linux, not Windows. If you want Windows, it'll cost you $538.

The Toshiba Satellite T215 series is another notebook line that straddles the border between netbooks and full-size laptops. The screen is 11.6 inches and it sports a respectable 2 GB of memory and a 320 GB hard drive. Those specs are pretty standard for today's netbook crowd. The dual-core AMD processor helps keep the cost down while still providing some oomph. Battery life is just over 5 hours and the weight is 3.3 pounds. That's a slight trade off for the bigger screen. People that find smaller netbooks to be too cramped should try this one on for size.

Wait a minute, you say -- that's not a laptop! If you use it on your lap, then it's close enough. Just as 50 million Elvis fans couldn't be wrong, more than 3 million iPad sales means that Apple is onto something. A certain contingent of business users would just as soon dump the notebook concept altogether and get with the tablet movement. The big draws are 10 hours of battery life with the Wi-Fi on, and a slim frame with a 10-inch screen that weighs just 1.5 pounds. It's ultra-portable and it's pretty. If you can get by without Flash and don't need to do a ton of typing, an under $500 tablet is a big draw. If you're still on the fence, there will soon be a decent selection of Windows tablets out on the market to compare.

Tags: Apple iPad, Asus Eee, best laptops, best laptops under 500, best netbooks, Business Trends, cheap laptops, Dell Vostro, iPad, laptop reviews, laptops, laptops under 500, Mobile, netbooks, Toshiba Satellite

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