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Choosing An Ultra-Portable Laptop For Your Computer Needs.

When choosing a laptop, portability is often a key feature. When you are traveling with your laptop frequently, taking your laptop on planes and long drives makes weight (or lack of weight) extremely important. Certainly, no one wants to be carting a ten-pound monster of a laptop in and out of a car or across an airport in addition to everything else you have to carry.

Things to consider when buying an ultra-portable laptop:

• Price
• Features
• Weight of Additional Gear
• Battery life

The prices are steeper with the smaller models of notebook computers, and it increases with processing capabilities and functions such as a DVD/CD-RW drive for your data storage and playback needs, as well as a little entertainment on long trips. Your typical notebook computer packs enough punch to handle wireless networking and all the basic functions (like word processing and other simple programs) just like your desktop PC can. You also have to watch out for mobile laptops that require extra gear. Battery chargers and other cables and accessories should be factored into the weight if weight is indeed the issue for you. Battery life varies with the efficiency of the processor, so check out battery life in any reviews you read.

Best Reviewed Laptops:

• Sony VAIO VGN-TX770P
• Toshiba Portege R200
• Averatec 1000
• Dell Latitude X1

Laptop manufacturers have seen the future, and are in a designing war to create the most mobile and smallest notebook computer. Product reviews place the Sony VAIO VGN-TX770P pretty firmly at the top of the list, and weighing in at just under three pounds, it certainly is portable. The VAIO has a great battery life, which is important, but is also one of the most expensive ultra-portable laptops available.

The Toshiba Portege is a little on the expensive side, but was designed with the speed and power for business travelers without the bells and whistles. The Portege does not have an internal CD/DVD drive, but keeps weight down to just over two and a half pounds.

The Averatec 1000 has a shorter battery life than the competition, but also has a much smaller price. It is the heaviest of the laptops listed here, weighing three and a half pounds, and has the largest hard drive at 80GB.

The last laptop we’re mentioning is the Dell Latitude X1, which is light at 2.5 pounds, and has good battery life. It is missing a PC Card slot and an internal optical drive, but for anyone looking to travel light, it is definitely worth a look.

Components to Think About
There are several key components to a laptop that should be considered before any purchase. This is important because it is difficult, if not impossible, to upgrade many of these components in laptops. The primary components are:

• CPU (Central Processing Unit)
• Hard Drive
• RAM (Random Active Memory)
• Screen Size
• Port Types
• Optical Drive (CD, CD-RW, & DVD-RW)
• Removable Media (like a camera memory card)
• Batteries
• Video Card
• Touch Sensitive Mouse Pad
• Wireless Capability

The CPU, or central processing unit, is not upgradeable in most laptops. The CPU is high-powered enough in most laptops to function at a business level without spending extra for a more expensive chip. If you plan to watch videos or play games, however, you may need to find a computer with a faster processor. The most important factors of CPU’s in laptops are the balance between processor power and battery consumption, and heat output (the less heat, the better).

The hard drive is upgradable in a unique way: if by some strange twist of fate you manage to fill up the 60 plus GB that these featured laptops come with, you can purchase portable flash hard drives to store your extra material temporarily. Portable flash drives are thinner than a pencil, just wide enough for a USB connector, and can be shorter than a man’s thumb. A single GB is highly affordable, and up to ten GB are available for big spenders. Unless you are working extensively with digital media, however, this should not become a necessity.

The RAM in laptops is upgradable, and it is always a good investment to pack on the RAM. RAM is what stores data on what programs are running, helping them to continue to run.

The screen size is fixed for the most part, meaning it should be factored in to the purchase of your laptop. A smaller screen is harder to read, however if it is too big it affects portability. A fifteen-inch screen (measured diagonally) is pretty standard for a balance between size and resolution. A large screen or wide screen is advisable for watching DVDs or other video media.

The types of ports that your computer allows are important. Most laptops come standard with up to four USB ports, which are the most common types of port used today. If you have an older mouse that you intend to use with your laptop, remember to buy a USB adapter. USB ports make it much easier to connect peripheral gear.

The optical drive is a simple choice. If you do not want to use a CD drive in any of its variations, then you can find a smaller laptop for your use. If being able to store your data is important, at least look at a system with a CD-RW drive. If you need to backup a large amount of data, look for a laptop with a DVD-RW drive. This option will make your system heavier and more expensive. Some laptops also come standard with a place to insert your media card directly into the computer for fast photo access. This is only important to you if photography is part of your job.

The batteries that come with laptops now are much alike. The battery size matters less than the amount of power that the processor sucks up from it. If your laptop uses a lot of power, look into buying a spare battery so that you can switch them out when the power drops too low.

The video card is not upgradeable, so be sure that if you plan to play intensive games or watch a lot of movies you have a more powerful card. For the average business traveler, however, the card that comes standard is powerful enough.

Most laptops come with a touch sensitive mouse pad. Test it out to see if it is easy enough for you to use, and if you need the extra help then buy yourself a mouse. Just remember that you have to carry your mouse and mouse pad with you on trips.

Last up for consideration is the wireless capability. For a business traveler, it is often important to be able to network wirelessly and connect to the internet wirelessly when opportunities present themselves. A Centrino processor internally or a wireless LAN (local area network) card allow you to connect.

Hopefully this guide has given you a bit to think about before buying your next ultra-portable laptop.

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