The 3.8-pound Sony VAIO SZ isn't the lightest laptop available, even within Sony's lineup, but it manages to be eminently portable without sacrificing a readable screen or a usable keyboard. Even better, the VAIO SZ has all of the features a business user will need, from an integrated microphone and Webcam for videoconferencing to a fingerprint scanner for security, not to mention a solid array of components, such as an Intel Core Duo processor and an Nvidia graphics card.
The latest model in the ThinkPad X series, the ultraportable X60s improves upon the previous generation by adding a few more features, including built-in WWAN connectivity and the latest Intel Core Duo processors. It still lacks a built-in optical drive, but the X60s does include that fabulous ThinkPad keyboard, making it the better choice if comfortable typing is more valuable to you than viewing CDs and DVDs. And if you can do without a built-in optical drive, the ThinkPad X60s delivers a best-in-class balance of comfort, performance, battery life, and portability.
4. GATEWAY NX100X (6.0/10 Good)
With a sleek black case, brushed-aluminum details, and dark blue status lights, the NX100X looks like a minimalist's dream laptop. The impact on your bottom line will also be minimal: the NX100X costs significantly less than competitive models. Though that minimalism extends to features as well (among other omissions, the NX100X lacks a built-in optical drive), if you're looking for an extremely portable and stylish laptop and can do without a built-in optical drive, the Gateway NX100X is a solid, economical choice.
The Presario V5000Z is a solid all-around notebook for a student or a home user who needs good, not great, performance and a fairly complete set of basic features, including a LightScribe double-layer optical drive and a multiformat media-card reader. Best of all, its starting price makes the V5000Z one of the least expensive base models on the market.
It's expensive and bulky, but the Panasonic ToughBook 74 incorporates some of the design principles used for its military-grade laptops into a more consumer-friendly "business rugged" model that's designed to withstand everyday abuses. This laptop was tossed around, dropped on cement, and spilled a total of five cups of coffee on its keyboard...still running. Given the ToughBook 74's starting price, though, it is recommend for users who are likely to do most of their computing beyond the office, airplane, or hotel room and whose laptop will need to withstand extreme abuse.
The tiny Sony VAIO UX has a 4.5-inch (diagonal) wide-screen display that slides up to reveal a QWERTY keypad. Despite its small size, the UX runs on a full-fledged laptop CPU, a full version of Windows XP, and a touch-screen interface. Weighing 1.2 pounds, the VAIO UX has 1,024x600 native resolution display, is equipped with some pretty modest components, and has tons of networking connections. And, remarkable for such a small device, the Sony VAIO UX makes room for two cameras as well as a biometric fingerprint scanner, headphone and mic jacks, a USB port, and a Memory Stick slot.
With the MacBook Pro, Apple hasn't radically redesigned the PowerBook form factor, and that's a good thing. The sleek, aluminum MacBook Pro is slightly wider, thinner, and lighter than the 15-inch PowerBook, striking a successful compromise between portability and usability. What's more, the MacBook Pro delivers unparalleled style and a solid set of features and software, though a few transitional performance issues keep it from rivaling the most powerful PC laptops.
DELL XPS M2010 (7.3/10 Very Good)
Something between an all-in-one desktop PC and a proper laptop, the XPS M2010 accommodates a foldout 20-inch display, a detachable Bluetooth keyboard, a premium set of components, and most of the trappings of a modern Media Center PC, including an impressive sound system; a pop-up, slot-loading DVD player; and an integrated video camera and microphone for videoconferencing. It's a striking feat of engineering that's sure to garner attention in a stylish home or on a multimedia-intensive sales call. The target market here is clearly those for whom money is no object.