Compact Confusion

The Lighter Side

When it comes to pure portable computing muscle, ultra-light laptops can't be topped. The main difference between ultra-lights and regular laptops is the heft. Ultra-lights typically weigh less than 4 pounds, while most notebooks tip the scales at 6 pounds or more. A few pounds makes all the difference when you're lugging your gear between planes or meetings.

The trade-off for featherweight computing is in price and peripherals, as you'll have to pay a little extra to get the functionality you need. The cheapest ultra-light in our table is the Dell Latitude LS. The bottom- of-the-line configuration runs $2,179 (all prices street)-and that's without a CD-ROM drive, which adds $99 to the final price.

When looking at the listed weight of an ultra-light, see what peripherals are included. Many come with external drives, which aren't figured into the weight listed in the literature. The Toshiba Portege 3480CT is 0.8 inches thick and weighs in at 3.4 pounds. The floppy drive is external, however, as is the $179 optional CD-ROM drive add-on. Take those with you and your trusty portable, and you add extra ounces to the total package.

Some of the ultra-lights in our chart peel off the pounds by using lighter-weight batteries with limited capacity. Longer-lasting batteries are heavier. And if you plan to go more than a few hours without a recharge, you'll need to carry a spare. For instance, you can customize a Gateway Solo 3350cs online to come with two batteries for an additional $149.

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This article was originally published in the February 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Compact Confusion.

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