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Laptops for all budgets

One way or another, we've covered most bases for laptops this month – including two new netbooks. With the Eee PC S101, Asus is pushing the concept more upmarket - despite the fact it was portability and low price that first captured consumer attention.

Asus' first netbook, the Eee PC 701, was released a little over a year ago. Since then, every model has seen the price - and, admittedly, the spec - rise inexorably. The £449 S101 sits precariously close to entry-level full-size laptops. It's a plusher option than the original Eee, for sure, but may be too pricey for those looking for a runaround rather than a main machine. On the other hand, it's far less expensive than the four-figure price tags of executive ultraportables, in which company it can still hold its head high.

We've covered a clutch of affordable full-size laptops that hover around the £400 mark. If your budget doesn't stretch quite so far, the Toshiba NB100 is a £250 mini laptop that sports the best user interface we've seen. It's a specially made version of Ubuntu Linux, tuned for small screens.

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs

Moving upmarket, we've also looked at four models that have adopted the Blu-ray format. Blu-ray capability on a laptop is a pricey option, and its value is arguably undermined by the lower-than-HD resolution of most laptops' screens. You can always pipe out the video to an external 1,920x1,080 screen or HD TV, of course, provided the format's insidious digital rights management technology doesn't cause problems with playback.

That shouldn't be a problem for the Qosmio F50. Toshiba's laptop uses an additional quad-core processor to upscale standard-definition DVD content to appear as sharp as HD video.

In theory, such technology could remove the need to buy expensive Blu-ray films that are riddled with playback restrictions. In practice, oversharpening the picture just seems to lower the image quality.

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