Slim Down

Sick of your bulky PC? A desktop replacement notebook could be the answer.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the July 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Take a multigigahertz processor, add heaps of RAM, attach at least a 15-inch flat-panel display, and put it all into a laptop. Now you're working with power. When it comes to computing on the road, slim is in. But sometimes you need more oomph.

That's where desktop replacement notebooks come in. They won't win many beauty contests. But they will make your reliance on a PC tower a thing of the past.

For example, you wouldn't want to jog through airports carrying Hewlett-Packard's Compaq Business Notebook nx9110. But for entrepreneurs who prefer to work on the same computer at the office and at home-and at a client's work site-its 8.28 pounds are definitely luggable. And at $1,249 (all prices street), it's also a budget-friendly model.

You'll lug a half-pound more with Gateway's M675X, but its sleek design and 17.1-inch movie-theater big screen make it worth the effort. There's room to have a few application windows open simultaneously. Sound and video quality are very good. A full 10-key number pad will appeal to Excel users, replicating the experience of using a desktop keyboard.

The 10.36-pound Fujitsu LifeBook N5000 delivers similarly perky performance as the Gateway, but with a traditional squared screen. The visual volume control is a nifty touch. Built-in Wi-Fi covers the bases with a, b and g; and the glossy screen is incredibly vibrant. Its 1GB of memory will keep you moving quickly even with the most demanding applications.

Somewhere between the Gateway and the Fujitsu is the stylish Toshiba Satellite P25-S670. With a 17-inch widescreen display, clean video and rich-sounding Harman/Kardon speakers, this is a good choice for entrepreneurs who work extensively with multimedia applications or plan on viewing a lot of DVDs.

Sony's VAIO PCG-GRT360ZG notebook handles the daily desktop grind with ease, featuring the well-stocked specs you see in the "Shopping List" below, while Dell's Inspiron 9100 is also up to the task with comparable specs. VAIO's 16.1-inch display delivers slightly more viewing area than the Inspiron, which has a 15.4-inch widescreen format. The VAIO display features XBrite technology, which is noticeably brighter. But the Inspiron produces better sound from its built-in speakers.

IBM's ThinkPad G40 has specs that fit in well but lack some bells and whistles, like the VAIO's remote control, infrared adapter and Sony Memory Stick media slot. The ThinkPad, however, has the most USB 2.0 ports, with four. But you can't fault the lack of extras when you consider the affordable $1,500 price tag. All the laptops we looked at are Wi-Fi- and Ethernet-ready. It may come down to budget versus buzzers, and you know which side you fall on.

When it comes to laptops, comfort is a huge issue. The VAIO and Inspiron have large, comfortable keyboards. The ThinkPad includes the Trackpoint eraser head in the middle of the keyboard for mouse navigation, while the VAIO uses the TouchPad, and Inspiron features both.

Mac users aren't left out of the desktop replacement option. Graphics and design entrepreneurs who don't want to skimp on their Apple laptops can look to the PowerBook G4's 17-inch screen, backlit keyboard and slim 6.9 pounds.

Shopping List
Processing power, weight and screen size are just some of the features to consider in a desktop replacement notebook.

PowerBook G4
(800) MY-APPLE
1.5GHz G4512MB6.9 pounds80GB hard drive, SuperDrive, 17-inch screen, 802.11g, Bluetooth$2,799
(800) WWW-DELL
Pentium 4
512MB8.9 pounds60GB hard drive, DVD+RW/CD-RW,15.4-inch screen, 802.11b/g$2,466
LifeBook N5000
(800) 831-3183
Pentium 4
1GB10.36 pounds80GB hard drive, DVD-R/RW/CD-RW,16.1-inch screen, 802.11a/b/g$2,499
(800) 369-1409
Pentium 4
512MB8.8 pounds60GB hard drive, DVD-R/RW/CD-RW,17.1-inch screen, 802.11g$1,799
Compaq Business
Notebook nx9110
(800) 888-9909
Pentium 4
256MB8.28 pounds30GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW,15.4-inch screen, 802.11a/b/g$1,249
ThinkPad G40
(888) SHOP-IBM
Pentium 4
256MB DDR SDRAM7.9 pounds60GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW,15-inch screen, 802.11b/g$1,500
(888) 476-6972
Pentium 4
512MB9.1 pounds80GB hard drive, DVD±RW/CD-RW,16.1-inch screen, 802.11b/g$2,600
Pentium 4
512MB9.9 pounds80GB hard drive, DVD±RW,17-inch screen, 802.11a/g$2,699

Research editor Steve Cooper contributed to this article.


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