Friday, September 05, 2003

Laptops: The best of the batch

I purchased my first laptop, an Apple PowerBook 165c in 1995. I moved to laptops full-time in 1999. Except for a brief romance with an iMac, I haven't been tempted to return to the ball and chain known as a desktop computer. During that eight-year period, I've usually had two laptops at a time, often a Mac and something Wintel.

As a somewhat petite woman, I found early laptops heavy and sometimes developed an ache in my shoulder. However, current models, which can weigh as little as four pounds, have solved that problem, along with backpack and shoulderbag carrying cases that are more ergonomic.

Currently, forty percent of purchasers of new computers buy notebooks. Laptops constitute the only growing segment of the market. If you are interested in scoring a first -- or second or third -- laptop, now is as good a time as any to buy.

This month's edition of Laptop Magazine rates the top WiFi embellished notebooks, i.e., those that come ready for use away from a phoneline out of the box. The winners are:

  • Apple 12-inch PowerBook G4

  • Averatec 3150P

  • Compaq Business Notebook nc4000

  • Dell Latitude D400

  • Fijitsu LifeBook P5000

  • Gateway 200XL

  • IBM Thinkpad T40

  • Sharp Actius PC-MV14

  • Sony VAIO PCG-TR1A

  • Toshiba Portege M100

  • The Dell Latitude D400 and the Gateway 200XL were selected as best buys. There is considerable variation among the computers, though most boast large hard drives and reasonably fast CPUs. Some are the current standard 802.11b compatible. Others, such as the Dell Latitude D400, come with 802.11g. Since most access points have yet to be updated, bleeding edge WiFi users will often find their speeds throttled back to 802.11b's. I was pleased to see the Apple PowerBook G4 included on the list, since Apple products are often overlooked in the general technology press, though it is lauded mainly for style, not utility.

    Note: A version of this entry appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies.

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