Testers also checked out a Lenovo Ideapad that makes logging on a lot simpler. It stores a scan of your face and then uses face recognition to make sure it's really you.
Testers found the laptop did let registered users in and kept everyone else out, although it doesn't work well in dim light for some people wearing glasses.
Chris Lam ran a series of tests on two dozen laptops to see how fast they perform and how long their batteries last. Testers also checked screen quality; some show a lot of reflection, like this one.
Testers also assessed ergonomics, another important consideration. "For ergonomics we examine factors such as how comfortable the keyboard is to use, whether or not the touch pad tracks properly, and the placement of the ports," says Lam.
And don't forget the extras. No matter what the price of the laptop is, you'll probably wind up paying hundreds of dollars more. To upgrade your software so it works with the new Vista operating system.
Another thing to consider: how hot the bottom of the laptop gets after running for 15 minutes. Some get pretty hot.
Consumer Reports found several laptops to recommend, including the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 for under $1,000.
It's fast with a long battery life, though you do have to log on the old-fashioned way.