Lightweight Laptops: Overview and Features
The Duo take on the age-old question of whether size really matters, at least when it comes to portable computers.
While Angela is happy with her full-sized 5 1/2-pound ThinkPad, Steve brings three 3-pound notebooks--the Sony T250, Panasonic Toughbook CFW2, and Sharp Actius MP30--to the table. They all sport features similar to their bigger brethren: Wi-Fi (for wireless internet access in your home or on the go at airports, offices, or coffee shops), USB, Ethernet ports, headphone jacks, video ports for hooking up an extra monitor, and PC Card slots for adding whatever else you need. The Sony includes a Firewire port for video editing (though this machine packs barely enough power for the task) and a Memory Stick slot for uploading pictures--if you've got a compatible camera. The Panasonic boasts a slot for the more common SD memory cards.
Each notebook comes with internal DVD drives, which you used to have to buy and lug around separately. They can double as portable DVD players or audio CD players for plane rides or car trips, although you may have to bring an extra battery to get you through a long movie. Steve points out that these mini-mobiles tend to run longer on a charge than the big boys, thanks to special mobile processors that--much like a compact car--save on energy.
The trade-off? These tiny models exhibit decreased computing power and hard-drive speed, which means they're not ideal for power-hungry applications like gaming and video editing. But Steve argues that these portables pack enough power for pretty much anything else.
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