Best performer for $1,000

Although Vista has been out for over a year many notebook vendors are still offering systems with Windows XP installed and the LG FS-3 is one such machine. Looks-wise its chassis is identical to the MSI PR600 with the same love-it-or-hate-it keyboard and built-in numeric keypad but it runs a slower 1.86GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T2130 chip.

It’s also the best-performing system of the notebooks within spitting distance of a thousand dollars with a 3DMark06 score of 163 and PCMark05 score of 2988. Compared to the resource-hungry Vista XP just feels snappier to use with less of the graphical overheads that slow Vista machines down. Battery life is similar to the PR600 at two hours and 15 minutes.

The FS-3 doesn’t offer much by way of extra software – even the DVD decoder for Media Player is left out so you’ll have to spring for extra software if you want to use this notebook as a portable DVD player. On the plus side the 15.4in display is pleasingly bright and well-saturated with excellent horizontal viewing angles and the 120GB hard drive is a good size for storing multimedia.