This Labs featured in the February 2000 issue, any pricing seen in these reviews were correct at the time of printing.
Reality has often not matched the hype of mobile compu
Reality has often not matched the hype of mobile computing. Short battery life and fragile cases, not to mention poor performance, belied the vision of the road warrior tramping the dusty byways with a fully appointed office in the briefcase.
While there will always be a trade off between a desktop and a mobile workstation, and there will always be a price premium for the privilege of miniaturisation, the distinctions get a bit blurred.
We took this opportunity to take a Labs eye view of the lightest of the lightweights in a notebook form factor. What constitutes an ultralight notebook? On the face of it the general understanding is something in the 1 to 2 kg range. Others quote the B5 page size. Most standard notebooks sit over 2 kg, so how is the weight reduction achieved? Again, generally speaking, you'll find the added portability attracts trade offs, just as you see the trade offs between a desktop to a regular notebook PC.
Typically you'll see the ultralight machine sporting a smaller screen, and smaller keys on the keyboard. Look a little closer and the PC Card slots may be reduced from two to one and the bulk of the floppy drive and CD-ROM are taken away as well. Some of the less noticeable traits we wanted to find out were reduced battery charge and connectivity options.
Along the way we also came across some not-so-lightweights which make an interesting comparison in seeing what you miss out on when you shoot for the lightest notebook.
What did we find?
Well for a start you'll be pleased to find the features and functionality gap between the regular notebook and an ultralight version has narrowed. Also what was very striking in all of the ultralight models was their sheer useability. They were small and cramped but not to the extent where every second thought process while working with the machine was devoted to an I wish' list. On the contrary, the lightweights performed admirably and were a joy to tote around. The additional features missed were compensated for by the increased mobility. You'll pay more for the privilege but we think most people in the market for a notebook are prepared for this as a fact of life.
Labs Editor David Lin
Contributors Tremayne Sargeant, Philip Luces,
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This Group Test appeared in the February, 2000 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine