While Google has managed to resolve a lot of the bugs and frustrations of its Chromebook, the main issue of having to pay a relatively high price for a fairly limited laptop has remained.

Until now. The launch this week of a $249 (£229) Chromebook makes Google’s vision of computing in the cloud affordable and appealing, with a thin and light machine from Samsung that is $200 cheaper than its previous model released in May. Read more

Following Dell’s Duo, with its flipover screen, Lenovo has come up with another take on the hybrid tablet/netbook with the Ideapad U1 and its detachable LePad slate. The concept may look familiar – Lenovo first showed it at CES 2010, but we finally have a release date and proper specifications for the machine, which make interesting reading. Read more

Google is giving us a glimpse of the future with its Nexus S phone, the first to run Android version 2.3, and its CR-48 notebook, a prototype for its Chrome computing system.

Tim Bradshaw and Richard Waters wrote early reviews of the products before I had an opportunity to play with them for this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section. For me, the CR-48 represented the biggest change in my computing habits since I moved from the keyboard commands of MS-DOS to the Windows operating system nearly 20 years ago. Read more

With the iPad, Apple proved that less really can be more. Despite lacking some basic things, like a built-in keyboard and support for Flash, the iPad has risen above its own limitations.

The challenge for Google’s new Chrome operating system is to prove that it, too, can power a new category of device, one that justifies being judged on its own terms, not compared constantly to the traditional personal computing experience. The first machine to carry Chrome, the Cr-48, certainly goes a long way towards fulfilling Google’s vision of an internet-centric notebook – but this is no iPad. Read more

The acid test for gadget success comes not from reviewers, but from shoppers in stores and during this busiest time of the year in the West.

This week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section has some gadget gift-buying suggestions, with the online version after the jump linking to previous reviews of products. For convenience, a list here too of products reviewed in detail: Read more

Steve Jobs says netbooks are just slow, cheap laptops with low-quality displays and are no good for anything.

He dissed them as such during the unveiling of the iPad and, judging by falling sales since then, he may have a case. Except that the new MacBook Air, launched on Wednesday, has just become my new favourite netbook. Read more

A new Dell tablet with an innovative swivel-screen that turns it into a netbook grabbed all the attention at Intel’s developer forum on Tuesday.

But smartphones running the chipmaker’s Atom processor were notable in their absence again, suggesting Intel is making heavy weather of breaking into the key mobile handset industry. Read more

Hewlett-Packard is announcing an entertainment-oriented  refresh to its notebook computer line today–and the most notable addition comes with its own 3D glasses.

The HP Envy 17 3D’s glasses automatically turn on when the user is watching a 3D Blu-ray DVD on the machine and then turn off again, giving the glasses a projected year of battery life.

In a test, I found the background shapes to have distracting shadows, but HP said it is tweaking the technology and will ship before the winter holidays at $1,600 or more. Read more

HP emphasised compelling designs and colours, but also its expanded use of AMD processors in its back-to-school laptop lineup this week.

Ultra-thin laptop concepts pushed by AMD could literally be the shape of things to come, with netbooks suffering a setback in the first quarter and Intel taking another shot at this higher-end category. Read more

Schoolchildren can safely spill water on the keyboard and even drop a new ruggedised version of Intel’s Classmate PC, but they may be tempted to take more care of it anyway.

The Classmate is no longer cheap in looks or price and has features that would not shame a $600 laptop. In fact, according to an Engadget review , that is precisely the cost of  the version they tested, running Windows 7 Professional. Read more

In Personal Technology in the Business Life section of the FT this week, we look at the Lenovo ThinkPad x100e and its rivals:

“The Lenovo ThinkPad x100e looks like a netbook, weighs about the same as a netbook and at $450 (£423 in the UK) is priced (almost) like a netbook. However, in terms of performance, its speed, screen resolution and keyboard outperform netbooks. This may be why the manufacturer classifies it as a laptop, albeit a small one.”

 Read more

With a never-ending need for better battery life and performance from netbooks and eReaders, there was welcome news this week from chipmakers Intel, Nvidia and Freescale on more efficient processors.

Intel released a faster version of its latest “Pine Trail”-codenamed Atom processor, lifting it to a 1.83Ghz clock speed from 1.66Ghz. Nvidia said its new ION separate graphics processor would give a 10x graphics performance improvement over Pine Trail netbooks that just use integrated graphics.Freescale promised faster page turns , higher resolution and longer battery life on eReaders from its new chip. Read more

The2010 Consumer Electronics Show , which closed in Las Vegas on Sunday, was arguably the best in years in featuring products ready for primetime rather than the vapourware often on display.

Sony impressed with its 3D-readiness, there were plenty of appealing eReaders and smartphones on show, while new netbooks, smartbooks and tablets galore are on their way to the PC market.

Our round-up of the best of CES is after the jump with links to the announcements, our coverage and reviews from other tech sites. Read more

Touch is becoming a common feature on netbooks, with HP launching its first touch-enabled netbook  a day after Lenovo announced its own entry  at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The HP Mini 5102 has a capacitive touchscreen option , like the iPhone’s, but it may be a little used feature at first , with few applications able to take advantage of the display’s capabilities. Read more

Lenovo has officially unveiled the most impressive entrant to date in the nascent smartbook category .

The Lenovo Skylight is a small clamshell device with a 10.1-inch high-resolution screen, flash storage, 1.3 megapixel camera and an integrated 3G modem. In a brief hands-on with the device, I was impressed with the design and build quality. Read more

Consumer demand for portable PCs that can turn on as a fast as a phone is likely to be satisfied by the netbook and smartbook categories in 2010 , but Dell is looking out for small and medium businesses who still prefer notebooks.

Its latest Latitude models targetting this market – the E4200 and E4300 – haveLatitude ON technology,  which was first introduced in September on the higher end Latitude Z  aimed at the enterprise.  Read more

Laptops, particularly stylish “thin-and-light” machines, such as Dell’s Adamo ($, )*, Apple’s ultra-thin MacBook Air ($, ), and Acer’s Aspire Timeline ($$$, ), which has excellent battery life, are objects of desire and even envy among early adopters and the digerati.

Alternatively, consider a Lenovo ThinkPad X300 ($$, ), which is plain-looking but has a great keyboard and screen, or Toshiba’s Portégé R600 ($$, ), elegant and very thin. Ap­ple’s 13in MacBook Pro ($$, ) is good if you prefer OS X. Read more