With so much of your work force on the road, maybe it's time to replace some of your aging desktops with portables. The latest generation of high-end notebooks means workers won't sacrifice anything by going mobile.
The CRN Test Center examined five high-end desktop replacements from Acer, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Sharp and Toshiba. All boast bright, 15-inch color displays, fast processors and wireless access. Except for Acer's TravelMate, whose base configuration is just 5.7 pounds, expect travel weights of 8 to 10 pounds, depending on adapters and accessories.
The TravelMate and Toshiba's Satellite Pro are built around Intel's new Centrino chip suite and Pentium M processor. It delivers built-in wireless access, low power consumption and unexpected processor performance, thanks to Pentium M's huge 1MB cache. Acer's TravelMate 803LCi, with a 1.6GHz Pentium M, is a great choice for graphics-intensive duties. It has an ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics processor and 64MB fast-video RAM. It also includes connections for a variety of multimedia devices, at a total cost of $2,499 (all prices street).
A slightly heavier and cheaper Centrino notebook is the $2,084 Toshiba Satellite Pro M10. Using a 1.4GHz Pentium M processor with 512MB of memory, expandable to 2GB, the Satellite Pro M10 features a stylish dark metallic-blue lid. Can't choose between touch pads or pointing sticks? The Satellite Pro M10 includes both.
Sharp's Actius GP22W is the least expensive notebook in this review because it uses a desktop version of Intel's 2.2GHz Pentium 4 processor, backed by a mere 512MB SDRAM, expandable to 768MB. It weighs a considerable 8.3 pounds. But with its bounty of ports and slots and 10/100Mbps NIC, Actius is still a great value at $1,699.
Do you really need to carry a floppy all the time? Instead, Fujitsu's LifeBook E7110 offers an external USB floppy drive and internal DVD/CD-RW combo drive. The E7110 also features a magnesium alloy lid. Built around a 2GHz Pentium 4M processor with 256MB of memory, the LifeBook is still fairly light at only 6.5 pounds and costs $1,849.
The final system, HP's Evo N800w, is quick and light and includes the best of everything. But it also has a heavier price tag, starting at $2999. With its 2.2GHz Pentium 4 processor and four hours of battery life, the Evo surpasses all but the Centrino notebooks. But then, this class of portable wasn't built to travel much farther than down the freeway to your home office.
Marc Spiwak is a technical editor with the CRN Test Center, the technology testing facility of CRN, a high-tech newspaper for IT consultants and solution providers.