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Consumer Reports: Ratings of new laptops

Consumer Reports News: April 03, 2009 09:37 AM

We've added 29 new models to our laptop Ratings (available to subscribers), in a range of sizes from 13.3 to 17 inches. Prices run the gamut as well, but most of the Windows laptops we tested were well under $1,000. Two bargains: the 14.1-inch Acer Aspire AS4730-4516, available from Best Buy for ($450), and although that model's discontinued you can still find the similar Acer Aspire AS4730-4947 for $500 plus a $50 mail-in rebate. and We also liked the 17-inch Dell Studio S17-162B, also at Best Buy, for $750.

[UPDATE: Best Buy no longer offers the Acer laptop we tested, but a similar model is available at Office Depot. —Ed.]

Battery life on most Intel laptops is 3 hours or more, and Apple's MacBook, MacBook Pro 15-inch (Click on the image for a closer look), and MacBook Pro 17-inch all lasted 5 hours or more in our tests. The 17-inch model had a battery life of 6-1/2 hours.

If you want to squeeze more battery life from Windows laptops, choose a model that offers an extended battery as an option. We tested a 15.4-inch Dell Studio, for example, with a 9-cell battery that lasted 7 hours. A 15.4-inch HP Pavilion laptop with a 12-cell battery ran for 6-1/2 hours.

It'll cost you more for an extended battery. The 12-cell version on the HP system was $50, for example. Extended batteries also weigh more than regular ones. And if you're buying at retail and are interested in an extended battery, check the specs carefully. It's not always obvious whether or not it's included. —Donna Tapellini

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