Standard portable notebook computers--weighing less than 8 pounds and measuring slightly larger than a 2-inch-high stack of letterhead--are gaining in popularity and dropping in price. If you need more than a standard notebook, however, consider a Super Video Graphics Array (SVGA) model.
SVGA screens have high-resolution liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Lightweight, flexible and thin, LCDs let tiny notebooks boast high-quality screens that add little to their weight. The standard LCD resolution is 640 x 480 dots per inch (dpi); the higher 800-x-600-dpi resolution means you get a more colorful, sharper picture, while allowing more data to be displayed on screen without increasing lid size. Two drawbacks: Some SVGA notebooks are a bit slower than standard VGA computers, and some text and graphics appear slightly smaller on screen because data is more compressed than on standard VGA screens.
Geared to mobile businesspeople with heavy graphics and multimedia application needs, these leading-edge machines are still far pricier than their standard notebook cousins. Most are powered by Pentium processors and pre-loaded with Windows 95 and other software. Higher-priced models have built-in fax modems, extra ports for additional modules, expansion bays for adding second batteries and other devices, docking capabilities and PCMCIA card slots.
Factors to consider before you buy:
- Is the keyboard layout convenient for your type of work? Those used to working with a standard 120-key keyboard will have to relearn the positions on an 85-key portable.
- Try the mouse or pointing device. Most pointing devices are now located at the front of the keyboard, but some are awkwardly placed or clipped to the side. Make sure yours is easily accessible.
- Do you really need an SVGA notebook, or is it just a "new toy" you want? If all you work on is text, you don't need the high-tech, multimedia model.
- Add it up. Essential accessories, such as a longer power cord, extra batteries and adapters, add to your cost and travel weight.