Fast notebooks

Fast notebooks<@VM>Weigh the options of these 78 notebook PCs - screen size, processor speed, storage, optical drive and other features<@VM>Page 2 (cont.)<@VM>Page 3 (cont.)<@VM>Page 4 (cont.)

High-end portables can carry the computing load, but you have to decide how much load you want to carry

By John McCormick

Special to GCN

It's axiomatic that computer technology is progressing at a rapid pace, but recent advances in notebook PCs are astounding. Just a few months ago I wondered whether there would be any Pentium III notebooks to list in this Buyers Guide. By the time I compiled the chart, I could have filled it exclusively with Pentium IIIs.


Hewlett-Packard's OmniBook 6000 comes with a 700-MHz Pentium III processor, a 15-inch screen and a 6X DVD-ROM drive. Weighing about 8 pounds, it is priced at $4,299.


But speed isn't everything, and for many users the most striking feature of these high-end powerhouses will be the size of the screen, not the newest processor.

It used to be that you rushed to connect your notebook PC to a 'real' monitor when you got into the office. Today, a notebook might have a larger usable screen size than your office PC, especially if the one on your desk is an older model.

Unlike a CRT monitor, where the usable screen size is smaller than the advertised measurement, a flat-panel screen is actually the size it's supposed to be. If it is advertised as a 15-inch diagonal display, that's the screen size you can use.

Worth their weight

Because most of these notebooks have a screen of 14 inches or larger, they are the equivalent of a 15- or even a 17-inch desktop CRT. That size makes them more difficult to carry but a joy to use.

Weight for a portable is a crucial factor. The configurations on the accompanying chart show that some ultrafast notebooks can weigh twice as much as some of the slim models.

But performance depends on processor speed, not weight, so it's important to consider how a notebook PC will be used as well as how often it will be carried.


Micron Electronics' TransPort ZX 15 has a 700-MHz Pentium III SpeedStep processor, a 6X DVD-ROM drive, 512M of RAM and an 18G hard drive for a price of $4,525.


If the notebook will be a substitute for a desktop PC, a heavy one with all the bells and whistles would probably be the best choice.

If it is to be shared by many users for a few hours at a time, legacy ports, a floppy drive and a CD-ROM drive may be unnecessary.

And if a notebook PC is for traveling, especially by air, weight will matter, as will the ability to swap devices such as a floppy drive, or a second or even third battery.

Faced with all the options, you might be tempted to order the fastest notebook, with 128M of RAM, a big hard drive and the fanciest optical drive you can get, either a DVD drive or even a CD-RW.

But the buying rules are different for computers that will be carried through airports than from computers that will sit on sturdy desks. Even if money is no object, weight and battery life always are.

Some choices are easy. A 12G hard drive is almost always a better choice than a 6G drive because it won't really weigh more.

Memory size and the power it uses also are important. An extra 64M of RAM doesn't weigh much, but it will cut your battery life, so you should choose an operating system and applications that will use the least amount of RAM.

For processor speed, it's important to remember the old saying, 'Speed kills!' For notebooks, higher clock speeds kill battery life.


Acer America's Travelmate 600TER has a 600-MHz Pentium III processor, a 13.3-inch screen, a CD-RW drive and a travel weight of less than 9 pounds for a price of $2,449.


If you max out on power-hungry options, even those that don't weigh much, it might mean carrying an extra battery, and that's a lot of extra weight.

Screen size isn't an easy choice, either. Everyone loves a big screen, but it can make the notebook's footprint so large that it won't fit in a suitcase. So, biggest isn't always best.

Many notebooks offer similar performance and features. Your purchase decisions could come down to vendor reputation and the bundled software. The latter is negotiable, so some systems in the chart are listed with extra software and, because many agencies will install their own licensed programs, some aren't.

With all the rapid innovations in notebook PC technology, some things don't change: Short battery life has always been a major complaint.

There hasn't been much improvement in run times because, as batteries get better, performance, and thus power consumption, goes up just as quickly.

Lithium ion batteries perform best. But when considering your choice, look at milliampere-hour and voltage ratings and not at vendors' estimated run times.

Meanwhile, chip makers are reducing power consumption with innovative processor designs.

Intel's SpeedStep Mobile Pentium processors, introduced in February, run at a slower clock speed on battery power to extend battery life. The lower speed is 550 MHz for 700-MHz processors and 500 MHz for 650- and 600-MHz processors.

All the factors


The IBM ThinkPad 390X MNU features a 15-inch screen, a 4X DVD-ROM drive, 128M of RAM and an 11.5G hard drive at a price of $4,090.


Whether this is useful to you will depend on how you use a notebook PC. Although a lower speed cuts a CPU's power consumption by about half, it is only one component that uses battery power. A large screen, memory, and any drive access consume a considerable amount of power. As a result, reducing processor speed by 20 to 30 percent extends run time only about 10 percent.

Because basic tasks such as word processing don't tax a Celeron, let alone a Pentium III, there is uncertainty about whether users who need a fast notebook want one that is only fast when it's plugged into the wall.

The clock speed reduction can be turned off, but then you lose the extended battery life.

The bottom line is that mobile Pentium III processors are a bit faster than a Pentium II with the same clock speed, but not by much.

For example, Intel Corp. officials said the new 700-MHz SpeedStep processor is up to 189 percent faster than a 400-MHz Pentium II notebook processor. But moving from 400 MHz to 700 MHz alone is a 175 percent increase even without any of the 70 new Streaming Single Instruction Multiple Data instructions or 256 Kbps of full-speed Level 2 cache that are part of the SpeedStep chips.


Tips for buyers
'Screen size, company reputation, ports and weight are the prime factors in choosing a notebook PC.

'Intel Corp.'s SpeedStep extends battery life, but it's not for every use.

'Large screen size is more important than high clock speed for many users.

'A big-screen notebook PC might not fit on your lap, on tray tables or in a briefcase.

'RAM uses up battery power, so don't get 128M unless you run Microsoft Windows NT or Windows 2000.

'Travel weight is determined by adding 2 pounds to a unit's base weight.

'Modular designs let users instantly customize the system by swapping components.

'Price no longer relates only to performance'it's also a matter of support and bundled software.

'A unit's external video refresh rate has to be fast if you plan to use a notebook PC for presentations.


The most important feature of the new Intel mobile processors is the small chip size that makes it easier to cool the CPU.

The SpeedStep is the first technology to the market. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., and newcomer Transmeta Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif.'with headline executive Linus Torvalds'have similar technologies in development.

AMD's Gemini chips aren't even mentioned on the company's Web site, but reports say they will be similar to the SpeedStep, with a step-down speed lower than Intel's. AMD has announced that a mobile version of its fast Athlon chip will be available by this fall.

Transmeta is pushing the Crusoe chip, which steps back from the ever-growing transistor count of other CPUs. Crusoe puts more features where they don't use any power'in software.

Whether Crusoe can deliver on its promise is anyone's guess, but Transmeta's claim to being able to adjust power according to the needs of the application would have incredible potential.

The company, on its Web site at www.transmeta.com/crusoe/lowpower, reports a 30 percent power saving with only a 10 percent performance drop.

Transmeta spokesman Frank Priscaro said computers using the chip would not ship until September.

John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with computers since the early 1960s.







































































































































































































































































































































































































Vendor Product Processor Speed in MHz Platform Base weight in pounds RAM Hard drive Display in inches, type Optical drive Modem included? Built-in Ethernet adapter? Notes Price
Acer America Inc.
San Jose, Calif.
408-432-6200
www.acer.com
Travelmate 600TER Pentium III 600 Win98 6.9 64M 12G 13.3, active-matrix CD-RW No No Touchpad $2,449
Travelmate 602TER Pentium III 650 Win98 6.9 128M 12G 13.3, active-matrix CD-RW No No Touchpad $2,739
Travelmate 342T Pentium III 500 Win98 6.9 64M 9G 12.1, active-matrix None Yes Yes Touchpad $2,498
Travelmate 732TLV Pentium III 500 Win98 6.9 128M 12G 15.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM No No Touchpad $3,143
Travelmate 736TL Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win 2000 6.9 128M 18G 15.0, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Yes Yes Touchpad $3,499
Apple Computer Inc.
Cupertino, Calif.
800-692-7759
www.apple.com
Powerbook G3 500 Mac OS9 6.0 128M 18G 14.1, active-matrix DVD-ROM Yes Yes Spare battery $3,997
Powerbook G3 500 Mac OS9 6.0 128M 12G 14.1, active-matrix DVD-ROM Yes Yes Dual-battery capable $3,499
Powerbook G3 400Mac OS9 6.0 64M 6G 14.1, active-matrix DVD-ROM Yes Yes Dual-battery capable $2,499
ARM Computer Inc.
San Jose, Calif.
800-765-1767
www.armcomputer.com
ARMNote TS30W Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win 2000 7.5 256M 12G 15.0, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $2,999
AXIS Systems
Anaheim, Calif.
800-378-9014
www.axissystems.com
Fusion 7280V Pentium III SpeedStep 600 Win 2000 7.3 128M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROM No No Touchpad $2,999
Compaq Computer Corp.
Houston
800-345-1518
www.compaq.com
Armada E700 Pentium III 500 NT 3.1 128M 24.2G 15.0, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROM No Yes Up to 3 batteries $5,400
Armada M700 Pentium III 650Win98 3.1 64M 11.5G 14.1, active-matrix 4X 4X DVD-ROM Yes NoUp to 3 batteries $4,300
Armada M300 Pentium III 500Win98 3.1 64M 6G 11.3, active-matrix 4X None Yes Yes Up Up to 3 batteries $3,100
Armada E500 Pentium III 650 Win98 3.1 64M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROM No Yes Up to 3 batteries $3,660
Armada E500 Pentium III 650 Win98 3.1 64M 6G 13.3, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM No No Up to 3 batteries $2,726
Prosignia 190 Pentium III 500 Win98 5.8 64M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM Yes No Microsoft Office $2,646
Prosignia 170 Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win 2000 5.3 128M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROM Yes Yes Office $3,499
Prosignia 150 K6-2 475 Win98 8.0 64M 6.4G 14.1, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM Yes No Office $2,196
Dell Computer Corp.
Austin, Texas
800-388-8542
www.dell.com
Latitude CPx
H500GT
Pentium III 500 Win 2000 6.9 128M 10.1G 14.1, active-matrix 4X CD-RW Yes No Touchpad and pointer stick $4,141
Latitude CS R400XT Pentium II 400Win 2000 4.8 128M 11.5G 13.3, active-matrix 4X 24X CD-ROM Yes No Touchpad and pointer stick $3,845
Inspiron 5000 Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win 2000 7.9 128M 18G 15.0, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $3,915
Fosa Computer Inc.
South Plainfield, N.J.
800-216-3672
www.fosa.com
SuperExtreme
8800P3
Pentium III 500 Win98 10.5 128M 25G 15.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-RAM Yes No Touchpad $3,425
Fujitsu PC Corp.
Santa Clara, Calif.
877-372-3473
www.fujitsu-pc.com
LifeBook S Series
Pentium III
400 Win98 4.0 64M 6G 12.1, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM Yes Yes Touchpad $2,299





































































































































































































































































































































































Vendor Product Processor Speed in MHz Platform Base weight in pounds RAM Hard drive Display in inches, type Optical drive Modem included? Built-in Ethernet adapter? Notes Price
Gateway Inc.
North Souix City, S.D.
800-428-3929
www.gateway.com
Solo 9300XL Pentium III 500 Win98 7.8 128M 11.5G 15.6, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROM Yes Yes LS-120 $4,023
Solo 9300CL Pentium III 500 Win98 7.8 64M 12G 15.6, active-matrix6X DVD-ROM Yes No Microsoft Works $2,899
Solo 2150CL Pentium III 450 Win98 7.0 32M 6G 14.1, active-matrix24X CD-ROM Yes No Works $1,999
Solo 2550LS Pentium III SpeedStep 600 Win98 7.4 64M 6G 13.3, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $2,198
Solo 3300 Pentium III 500 Win98 3.7 64M 6G 12.1, active-matrix None Internal Yes Touchpad $2,199
Hewlett-Packard Corp.
Palo Alto, Calif.
800-322-4772
www.hp.com
OmniBook 4150 Pentium III 500 NT 6.8 128M 11.5G 14.1, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $4,380
OmniBook XE2 Pentium III SpeedStep 600 NT 6.4 64M 10G 14.1, active-matrix6X DVD-ROM Yes No Presentation system $2,750
OmniBook XE2 Pentium III SpeedStep 600 Win98 6.4 64M 10G 14.1, active-matrix6X DVD-ROM Yes No Presentation system $2,650
OmniBook 900 Pentium III 650 Win 2000 4.0 64M 12G 13.3, active-matrix None No No Touchpad $3,597
OmniBook 900 Pentium III 600 Win 2000 4.0 64M 6G 13.3, active-matrix None No No Touchpad $3,097
OmniBook 6000 Pentium III 700 Win 2000 6.3 128M 18G 15.0, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM No No Touchpad $4,299
OmniBook 6000 Pentium III 700 Win95 6.3 128M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM No No Touchpad $3,550
OmniBook 6000 Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win 2000 6.3 128M 10G 14.1, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM No No Touchpad $3,350
OmniBook 6000 Pentium III SpeedStep 600 Win95 6.3 64M 6G 14.1, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM No No Touchpad $2,400
IBM Corp.
Armonk, NY
800-426-7255
www.ibm.com
ThinkPad 390X MNU Pentium III 500 Win98 7.6128M 11.5G 15.0, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROMYes No Pointer stick $4,090
ThinkPad 600X 9EU Pentium II 500 NT 5.4128M 11.5G 13.3, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROMYes No Pointer stick $4,200
ThinkPad 600X9EU Pentium III SpeedStep 500 Win98 5.4 64M 12G 13.3, active-matrix CD-ROM Yes No Pointer stick $3,500
ThinkPad 600X Pentium III SpeedStep 500 NT 5.4 64M 12G 13.3, active-matrix CD-ROM Yes No Pointer stick $3,600
ThinkPad 600X Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win 2000 5.4 64M 12G 13.3, active-matrix CD-ROM Yes No Pointer stick $3,800
MegaMax Inc.
City of Industry, Calif.
888-315-3533
www.megamax.com
MobilMax P3000/600 Pentium III 600Win 98 6.1 64M 6.4G 14.1, active-matrix 8X DVD-ROM Yes No Corel WordPerfect Office $2,109
MobilMax P3000/600 Pentium III 700Win 2000 6.1 128M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 8X DVD-ROM Yes No WordPerfect Office $2,468























































































































































































































































































































Vendor Product Processor Speed in MHz Platform Base weight in pounds RAM Hard drive Display in inches, type Optical drive Modem included? Built-in Ethernet adapter? Notes Price
Micron Electronics
Nampa, Idaho
800-588-4803
www.micronpc.com
TransPort ZX 15 Pentium III SpeedStep 700 Win98 7.0 512M 18G 14.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Internal No Office $4,525 GSA
TransPort ZX 15 Pentium III 500 Win 98 7.0 32M 6G 14.1, active-matrix 24X DVD-ROM Internal No Office $2,206 GSA
TransPort Trek 2 Lte Pentium III 500 Win 98 7.2 64M 6G 14.1, active-matrix 24X DVD-ROM No No Office $2,302 GSA
TransPort Trek 2 Lte Pentium III SpeedStep 700 Win 2000 7.2 256M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM No No Office SB LS-120 $4,082 GSA
NEC America Inc.
Dallas
888-446-8632
www.nec.com
Versa LXi Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win98 8.8 128M 9.6G 14.8, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $3,799
Versa VX Pentium III 500 Win98 6.4 64M 6G 14.1, active-matrix6X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $2,498
Versa FX Pentium III 500 Win98 3.4 128M 6G 12.1, active-matrix24X CD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $2,698
Panasonic Personal
Computer Co.
Secaucus, N.J.
800-662-3537
www.panasonic.com
CF Pentium III 450 Win98 6.4 64M 6G 12.1, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM No No Touchpad $2,200 GSA
CF-47 Pentium III 450 NT 6.8 128M 12G 14.1, active-matrix24X CD-ROM Yes No Touchpad, LS-120 $2,900 GSA
CF-71 Pentium III 450 Win98 6.4 128M 12G 13.3, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM No No Touchpad $3,150 GSA
CF-45 Pentium III 450 NT 6.4 64M 6G 12.1, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM Yes No Ruggedized, LS-120 $2,237 GSA
CF-71 Pentium III 450 Win95 6.4 128M 12G 13.3, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM No No Ruggedized $3,096 GSA
Prostar Computers Inc.
City of Industry, Calif.
800-243-5654
www.shopprostar.com
8293 Pentium III SpeedStep 700 Win98 7.2 128M 18G 15.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $3,145
8293 Pentium III SpeedStep 600 Win98 7.2 128M 12G 15.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $2,645
3153 Pentium III 600 Win98 7.2 64M 12G 13.3, active-matrix6X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $1,945
Quantex Microsystems Inc.
Somerset, N.J.
877-226-6316
www.quantex.com
W-1500 Pentium III SpeedStep 500Win 2000 7.7 128M 18G 15, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Yes No Office 2000 $2,899
W-1400 Pentium III SpeedStep 600Win 2000 7.0 64M 12G 14.1, active-matrix6X DVD-ROM Yes No WordPerfect Office $2,399
T-1400 Pentium III 500 Win Win 2000 7.0 96M 12G 14.1, active-matrixDVD-ROM Yes No WordPerfect Office $2,199



























































































































































































































































































Vendor Product Processor Speed in MHz Platform Base weight in pounds RAM Hard drive Display in inches, type Optical drive Modem included? Built-in Ethernet adapter? Notes Price
Sager Midern Computer Inc.
City of Industry, Calif.
626-964-8682
www.sagernotebook.com
NP 2850s Pentium III SpeedStep 700 Win98 6.8 128M 12G 15.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Yes Yes Touchpad $2,495
NP3350B Pentium III SpeedStep 600 Win98 6.8 64M 6G 14.1, active-matrix24X CD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $1,875
Sceptre Technology Inc.
City of Industry, Calif.
626-369-3698
www.sceptre.com
Soundx S6900 Pentium III 500
Win98 7.6 64M 12G 15.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $2,849
Sony Electronics Inc.
San Jose, Calif.
888-315-7669
www.sony.com
Vaio PCG-F490 Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win98 7.5 128M 16.9G 15, active-matrix 2X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $3,799
Tadpole-RDI Inc.
Carlsbad, Calif.
800-734-5483
www.tadpolerdi.com
UltrabookIIi Sun UltraSparc-II 400 Solaris 7.5 256M 12G 14.1, active-matrix None No Yes Dual-display capable $11,995 up
VoyagerIIi Sun Sun UltraSparc-II 440 Solaris 10.0 256M 10G No screen None No Yes Portable server $14,410 up
Toshiba America
Information Systems Inc.
Irvine, Calif.
800-867-4422
www.toshiba.com>
Portege 7140CT Pentium III 500 Win98 4.2 128M 6.5G 13.3, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Internal Yes Touchpad $3,500
Tecra 8100 Pentium III 500 Win95 6.1 128M 9.6G 14.1, active-matrix6X DVD-ROM Internal No Touchpad $3,900
Twinhead Corp.
Fremont, Calif.
800-995-8946
www.twinhead.com
Slimnote
GX3-65TK12LD
Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win98 7.4 128M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROM Yes No Touchpad $2,999
WinBook Computer Corp.
Columbus, Ohio
888-480-5995
www.winbook.com
SI Pentium III SpeedStep 700 Win 2000
Win 2000
7.4 128M 12G 14.1, active-matrix DVD-ROM Internal No Touchpad and pointing stick $2,999
SI Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win 2000 7.4 64M 6G 14.1, active-matrix24X CD-ROM Internal No Touchpad and pointing stick $2,499
SI Pentium III 600 Win98 7.4 64M 6G 12.1, active-matrix 24X CD-ROM Internal No Touchpad and
pointing stick
$1,799
XL-3 Pentium III 500 Win98 7.5 256M 12G 14.1, active-matrix 4X DVD-ROM Internal No LS-120 $3,599
Windrover Co.
Lodi, N.J.
973-472-0611
www.windrover.com
Navigator 150PT Pentium III SpeedStep 650 Win98 7.1 128M 10G 15.1, active-matrix 6X DVD-ROM Internal No Touchpad $2,945
Navigator 140PT Pentium III 500 Win98 6.3 64M 6.4G 14.1, active-matrix 24X DVD-ROM No No Touchpad $2,095
Navigator 120PT Pentium III 500 Win98 5.8 64M 6.4G 12.1, active-matrix 24X DVD-ROM No No Touchpad $1,665

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