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.

Asus Eee PC 1005HA: From Asus, the company that popularized netbooks, comes its most-popular model at the moment (Asus is always announcing new models), with a 10.1-inch screen, 250GB hard drive and Windows XP. Asus netbooks are highly regarded for their abilities and their good looks as well as price. Retails for approximately $350.

Asus Eee PC 900HA: A slightly older model with a smaller screen (8.9 inches measured diagonally); 160GB hard drive plus 10GB of online storage. Weighs less than 2.5 pounds. As much as five hours of battery life per charge. Because the design is a few months old, you can snag this netbook for a good price. The 8.9-inch screen is not too small. Retails for approximately $260.

Lenovo S10: A favorite with netbook owners worldwide because of its flexibility, with a 10.1-inch screen and 160GB hard drive. Runs Windows XP Home Edition. It's a well made mini-notebook computer with a very good sized keyboard. Retails for approximately $300.

Toshiba Mini NB205-210: 10.1-inch screen, 250GB hard drive, nine-hour claimed battery life and runs Windows XP, but models with Windows 7 Starter are now reaching the marketplace. Long battery life between charges makes this netbook one to consider. Retails for approximately $325.

Hewlett-Packard Mini 110-1125 : 10.1-inch screen. Up to eight hours of battery life; 160GB hard drive. Runs Windows 7 Starter Edition. Comes in black, white or pink. H-P is the number one computer manufacturer, and its netbooks are one of the reasons why. Retails for approximately $350.

Dell Inspiron Mini 1011: 10.1-inch display. 160GB hard drive. Runs Windows 7 Starter OS. Dell claims eight hours plus battery life. Lightweight and a pleasure to use, this Dell is priced just right. Retails for approximately $325.

Acer Aspire One AOD250: 10.1-inch screen; 160GB hard drive. The manufacturer claims a three-hour battery life. Comes in black, blue, red or white. A favorite of netbook shoppers looking for a big bargain. Retails for approximately $290.

Samsung N130: 10.1-inch display: 160GB hard drive. Microsoft XP Home (SP3) operating system; the manufacturer claims 5.8 hours of battery life. A well-priced, small, portable computer from the Korean electronics giant. Retails for approximately $300.

Gateway LT2005u: 10.1-inch screen. 160 GB hard drive. Only 512MB of RAM (compared to 1GB in all the others). A bargain hunter's dream, this Gateway netbook sells for a bargain price. You can find it for sale on the Web for approximately $230.

Sony VAIO VPC-W121AX: 10.1-inch display; 250GB Serial ATA hard drive; 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. Runs Windows 7 Starter OS. Sony claims as much as seven hours of battery life. Sony products are respected for their technical capabilities. This upscale model retails for approximately $500.

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