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The Most Portable PC

Introduction

The Dell D420 looks like a lighter slimmer laptop but some ultraportables have a more unusual look.

Portable PCs are meant to be portable. An 18" widescreen notebook makes an excellent entertainment PC or a mobile workstation for video editing, but you'll need a wheeled case to drag it around in. Depending on how much you're prepared to give up, you can pick an ultraportable PC that won't weigh down your backpack - or one you can slip in your pocket.

How Portable Is Ultraportable?

There are plenty of "thin and light" notebooks that are around one inch thick and weigh between four and six l lbs; they typically have a 14" screen (often widescreen these days), an optical drive and a fast processor (often dual core). The price tags aren't too frightening either; you can get a good notebook that's truly portable from $800 and up. If you want a Mac, an iBook is thicker (1.35") than the 1" MacBook Pro, but the 4.9lb 12" iBook weighs in with other thin-and-light machines where the 5.6 lb MacBook Pro would get left behind.

True ultraportables are thinner-down to half an inch in some cases-and lighter-often under three lbs. Screens are smaller, optical drives are rare, performance is less and prices are higher; expect to pay $1,500-$2,000 or a little more for top-of-the-line models.

Step a little further away from the traditional notebook and you can get smaller form factors that still run a full version of Windows. Sub-notebooks have substantially smaller screens and keyboards; they're often intended for the Japanese market and don't make it into the United States or the UK until some months later. Tablet PCs aren't always thin or light (the Toshiba Tecra M7 for example), but keyboard-free slates can be ultra-thin and ultra-light. Ultra Mobile PCs are 7" tablets with PDA-style passive touchscreens (they'll get smaller in 2007); again they run the Tablet PC version of Windows. Then there are the pocket-size PCs like the OQO, the Sony VAIO UX Micro PC and Samsung's 5" SPH-P9000.

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