A look at two notebooks reflects the weighty choice buyers face

A look at two notebooks reflects the weighty choice buyers face

By Mark A. Kellner

A significant part of choosing a Pentium II notebook is deciding what style you prefer. Excepting the superslim notebooks, the choice boils down to lugging an all-in-one unit or one that has a slice, a multimedia extension that snaps off.

Two computers illustrate the difference.

Micron Electronics Inc.'s TransPort Trek2 is the all-in-one choice.

The system, recently upgraded to a 400-MHz Pentium II, contains a hard drive, floppy drive and CD- or DVD-ROM drive in one unit. It has a good screen display and keyboard.

All you need to add is either a PC Card modem or an Ethernet adapter, and Micron offers both.

Setting up and using the TransPort Trek2 is easy, and the computer performs well even under heavy use.

The greatest advantage of any three-spindle unit, as industry insiders call the all-in-one model, is that there is nothing to lose or leave behind in a hotel room'at least not easily.

Few things can be as frustrating as having to run a CD-ROM presentation and not having the drive available.

But carrying an all-in-one notebook PC can be a burden if you're on the go all day. So, for a recent three-day conference in a hot and sticky New York, I took along a Compaq Armada 3500, which puts its multimedia devices in a slice that sits below the CPU. Detaching the bottom portion lightens the load by 2 pounds.

This approach makes sense if you are working on a task that demands movement from a home base.

You can return to your hotel room, for instance, and connect the two parts if need be.

As with every Compaq Computer Corp. notebook I have tested, the Armada is a solid performer and has worked reliably in a variety of circumstances.

In either case, having a system with the latest Pentium II processor is a blessing that power users will appreciate, particularly when Microsoft Windows 2000 arrives.

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