As the price of laptops tumble ever lower, more features and better build quality are creeping into the budget end of the spectrum.
You can get laptops for AU$1000 now that last year would have cost you at least AU$1500. To wring out even better value, many vendors are opting to use last generation Core processors on their budget models, giving them an excuse to offer better features, instead.
For most people, this won't really matter — the performance of second generation Core processors is more than good enough for day to day tasks. It's only when you get into heavier duties, like video encoding, that the third generation Core makes its mark.
There are a few hallmarks of the sub-AU$1000 laptop. The DVD±RW drive appears to be universal, despite gradually being obliterated from the rest of the market. Resolutions rarely get above 1366x768, you sometimes miss out on Bluetooth and some models still use 100Mbps Ethernet, instead of Gbps. Wireless is universally 2.4GHz 802.11n only. Not much has changed here in the last few years.
What has changed is battery life. Buying a cheap laptop generally doomed you to comparatively poor battery life. No longer — some sub-AU$1000 laptops are now hitting a solid six hours of light use, on par with the latest ultrabooks.
Build quality has improved, too, although there'll usually be a shortcut the vendor has taken somewhere, whether it be a slightly flexing keyboard, roughly hinged clickpad, terrible speakers or cheap screen. While we have highlighted these flaws in the reviews below, nothing beats heading to a store and laying hands on the laptop yourself — you may not even see them as a problem.