THE LOW END: MacBook Air
PRICE: $999 to $1,499
FEATURES: Thin, light, and powerful, these machines use SSD flash storage instead of mechanical hard drives -- no moving parts -- and don’t contain an optical drive. They feature dual-core Intel i5 processors.
THE HIGH END: MacBook Pro
PRICE: $1,199 to $2,799
FEATURES: Costly high-end laptops feature mechanical hard drives or SSD flash storage, as well as DVD optical drives. They offer dual-core i5 or quad-core i7 processors.
PLATFORM: Microsoft Windows
MAKERS: Major vendors include Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Lenovo Group, Toshiba Corp., Acer Inc., Asustek Computer Inc.
THE LOW END: Netbooks
FEATURES: Small, low-powered machines. Light and very portable, they’re not well suited to heavy-duty use.
THE MID-RANGE: Standard laptops
PRICE: $400 and up.
FEATURES: Relatively hefty, full-featured machines that use mechanical hard drives and optical drives, running the gamut from basic entry-level machines to high-performance portables costing thousands of dollars. Expect to pay between $600 and $900 for a decent student laptop.
THE HIGH END: Ultrabooks
PRICE: $700 to $1,000.
FEATURES: Thin, sleek Windows computers modeled after the MacBook Air. These usually don’t include an optical drive and often use SSD flash memory instead of a hard drive. They deliver good performance, at a somewhat higher price than traditional laptops.