The two consistent trends among notebook computers are speedier processors and larger, brighter screens. While notebooks can be somewhat pricey compared to desktop models, most are now versatile enough to serve as your only computer when you're working both in the office and on the road. The key to getting the best value is buying a notebook that includes all the features you really need but avoids the costly extras that, while impressive, won't do much for your productivity.
You'll want a laptop that has a Pentium II 266 MHz processor and a minimum 13-inch active matrix screen. With that setup, you're assured a model that's plenty fast for almost any business application and has a bright screen that's large enough for long workdays or an impromptu presentation. Add a 56K modem for Internet access, a PC card slot to easily add peripherals, and a minimum 32MB RAM to make sure that multiple applications can be opened simultaneously. Top this off with a USB port to keep you compatible with the burgeoning USB peripherals market, and you've got the recipe for a solid computer that will stay usable for a long time.
Features you can probably afford to skip include infrared data ports, two or more PC card slots (few users ever fill up more than one), and dual battery slots. While all are nice additions, they're often costly, and most notebooks users can make do without them.
The Fujitsu Lifebook E340 is one model worth considering if you plan to take your show on the road. It combines a 266 MHz Pentium II processor with a bright 13.3-inch active-matrix screen. The Lifebook also has a modular design, allowing you to swap in a floppy drive, DVD drive or extra battery pack if you need the additional capabilities. At a street price of $1,700 for the 4GB hard-drive model, this notebook provides a terrific value.