NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The holiday hunt for the cheapest netbook is on and the field is crowded. Making sense of these small, similar looking devices can blur the eyes of any shopper.

Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), Dell ( DELL), SONY ( SNE) and Asus all lead the way with the top products. The Microsoft Windows 7 ( MSFT) launch gave each maker a chance to refresh the product line in time for black Friday.

Netbooks are scaled down laptops designed for simple Web surfing and email. With screen sizes from seven to 12 inches they can travel easily and are far lighter than your average laptop. The Intel ( INTC) Atom processor is the primary chipset found inside and is not strong enough for streaming high-quality video. Some keyboards are cramped, a problem most manufacturers have rushed to fix, many with success.

With many retailers expecting cheap netbooks to be big sellers, we asked our tech reviewer Gary Krakow to draw up the list of the 10 best and cheapest netbooks. One last tip before you buy: Double check the keyboard size for your hands.

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