Portability meets performance

GCN lab reviews: Lightweight laptop PCs don't let functionality slow them down

TAKING YOUR WORK on the road ' or just out to lunch ' usually means bringing some type of computing device along. And even with personal digital assistants upgraded to near-enterprise functionality, near isn't always close enough. Sometimes you need a full operating system.

But a laptop PC should not be an albatross around your neck. Plenty of fully functional laptops weigh less than 5 pounds.

The GCN Lab reviewed eight of the top ultraportable models to help you decide which might be the best fit for your job and agency.

We graded laptops on form factor, which mostly boiled down to weight, though we also considered configuration of the units' various buttons and ports.

We tested performance using the Performance Test 6.1 benchmark suite from Pass- Mark Software. This benchmark shows why one system is faster than another and breaks down those results into 25 categories so we can see why systems perform the way they do.

No component can hide from the Performance Test benchmark.

Battery life is a critical consideration in the laptop market so we tested it in a near-worstcase scenario: We disabled all power-saving options and set the screen brightness and volume to 75 percent. We played a movie clip continuously and waited for each laptop to die. You are likely to get more uptime out of your laptop in normal use, but this scenario let us compare performance among the laptops in the review group.

Finally, the value grade reflects price relative to the unit's performance in all other areas. When government and retail prices were available, we noted both but graded on the government price.

About the Authors

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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