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How to choose a netbook

We pick the best netbooks for specific tasks

There's a huge number of machines to choose from in the netbook market. A quick glance at the specs of the current crop might lead you to believe that they're more alike than different.

Nearly all of them are based on the same Intel Atom CPU (the N450), with 1GB or 2GB of RAM, no optical drive, and similar battery-life claims. But look closer, and you can see that various models are designed with different people in mind.

If you're interested in using your netbook for entertainment, such as watching high-def video or playing the occasional game, you'll want a model with a larger screen and a good graphics processor (nVidia's Ion or AMD's low-power platform with ATI graphics). You'll pay more and give up some battery life, though.

If you frequently take long business trips or need to get a little work done on the train or plane, you'll want a netbook that maximises battery life to obviate the need for an outlet until you get home for the evening.

As a business traveller, you may find on-the-go connectivity, rugged design, and a terrific keyboard and touchpad to be more important than raw performance.

Maybe performance and price don't matter to you as much as a netbook that looks good and has first-rate design, even if you have to pay more to get it.

Perhaps you find yourself on the other side of that coin, looking for the least expensive netbook that will get the job done, as a companion to your everyday PC.

Whether you're looking for a netbook with lengthy battery life, useful business features, a small price tag, innovative design, or great entertainment capabilities, read on for our top choices in each category.

Do you just want a good all-around workhorse? Our 'Group test: what's the best netbook?' feature will tell you which to plump for.

NEXT PAGE: Best Design: Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3

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