Finding a good back-to-school laptop shouldn’t feel like homework. That’s why we’ve handpicked the very best notebooks for students, ranging from sub-$500 systems with good looks and performance all the way up to the sleekest Ultrabooks. In between you’ll find laptops that excel in all sorts of areas, from multimedia machines that major in awesome audio to ones that last up to 13 hours on a charge. Here are our top picks for the 2012 back-to-school season.
HP’s refreshed entry-level 15.6-inch notebook features curved, beveled edges and what HP calls “elements of precision.” Its keyboard deck has a sunken bowl shape and the touchpad has a textured finish, making it easier to locate without looking. For the starting price, students get a second-generation Intel Core i3-2350 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. The notebook is available in Ruby Red, Linen White, Sparkling Black, Winter Blue and Bright Purple.