Lightweight Champions

Feel defeated by that hefty laptop? Check out these lean machines.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the June 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

That weight on your shoulders isn't the pressure of your responsibilities--it's your laptop. Time to ease up on yourself. You have many options for downsizing to a more portable notebook. You may want to go high-end and pick up the latest $2,500 dream machine or go for an inexpensive and compact $500 companion.

Take an 8GB solid-state hard drive, Wi-Fi, a 7-inch screen and 1GB memory, put it all into a hardback, book-size device that weighs 2 pounds, and you've got the Asus Eee PC 8G. The $499 8G version runs on a Linux OS, but there's also a Windows XP version if you want a familiar OS. The small keyboard isn't for everyone, but it's hard to beat a tiny notebook that comes in at this price point. If you're a fan of open source software or you do a lot of your computing with Web 2.0 applications online, this device may be just what you need.

For sheer wow factor, the MacBook Air delivers. It's ridiculously thin, weighs 3 pounds and features a cool LED display and multitouch (think iPhone) trackpad. On the downside, it has no optical drive, only one USB port and a hefty $1,799 price tag. If you're set on being the coolest Mac user on the block, then those drawbacks shouldn't dissuade you.

Dedicated PC users can get their superslim fix from the Lenovo ThinkPad X300. At about 3 pounds with a 13.3-inch LED screen, the X300 starts at $2,799 and fits in a desirable (but pricey) solid-state drive, three USB ports and a DVD burner.

The RM244UT version of the Hewlett-Packard Compaq 2510p notebook features a lot of nice extras for your $1,799. It's compatible with Verizon mobile broadband for anywhere internet, includes a DVD-RW drive and still weighs less than 3 pounds. The three-year warranty is notable in an age when laptop warranties are shrinking. If you're willing to carry an extra pound or two, the 4.9-pound Toshiba Satellite U405-S2830 starts at an attractive $1,150 and comes stocked with 2GB memory, a spacious 250GB hard drive, a webcam, a DVD multidrive and a 13.3-inch display. The built-in fingerprint reader adds a nice layer of extra security.

An ultraportable laptop needs to sport decent battery life. While many notebooks strain to get 2.5 hours, the Sony VAIO TZ VGN-TZ270N/B can manage up to 8.5 hours of battery life--or 13 hours if you buy the larger capacity battery. The TZ line starts at $2,500 and ramps up to $3,700 for the ultrapremium model. For $2,500, you get a DVD-RW drive, fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth and Sprint Mobile Broadband compatibility in a lightweight 2.7-pound package.

The $2,499 Dell Latitude XT brings multitouch capabilities to a convertible tablet PC. The XT recognizes either a tablet pen or your finger. There is an optional outdoor-viewable display upgrade, so keep that in mind if you'll be using your tablet in bright conditions.

When shopping for a lightweight laptop, remember that you don't have to break the bank to get the ultimate in port-ability. However, consider a bigger investment if you need a larger keyboard or screen or you want a built-in DVD drive. Superlight laptops can dent your budget, but true road warriors need the right tools to be successful in business.


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