After a month of research, I
worked out a wish list: PII-300Mhz, 128Mb RAM, lightweight,
long battery life, good keyboard and trackpad, as well as a
good clear screen. Below is the order of importance:
Keyboard and trackpad
Good Clear LCD
Most notebooks have a Pentium 300MMX at the very least, and I
think they are quite sufficient for most jobs I liked to carry
out on the move. Perhaps a game of Quake III or Need For Speed
would be nice, but until the Savage4 MX/IX 3D is out, mobile
graphics accelerators are just too weak. I digress and concentrate on doing
some serious work first.
Well, weight is a major hindrance to bringing a notebook
around and I have seen friends purchase monsters only to leave
them at home. Notebooks must be light, mobiles must be mobile.
I was left to hunt in the class of sub-notebooks for something
less than 2kg in weight
Next in line is battery life. Your powerful notebook is not
very useful if it cannot last you an hour per charge. That
will mean searching for an AC supply before any meaningful
work can be done in its true mobile state. Extra batteries are
not often an option since they cost arms and legs and weigh
Usually, I prefer the trackpad
implementations than trackpoints on notebooks, but that is a personal preference.
Good, spacious keyboards are
very important especially for people with huge fingers like
myself, often frustrated and handicapped on tiny notebook
keyboards. To save space, companies developed awkward layouts
and shrank the size of keys, so be sure to test it out
before a purchase.
No matter how much you liked a portable,
stay away from it if you cannot draft a complete document
without winding up with chronic cramps and keyboard-induced
Generally, TFT screens perform
on par with each other, with the exception of several
incredible TFTs found on the Panasonic S-51, A-77, Sony Vaio
Z505 and the Sharp Actius (Mebius) series. They are extremely
bright and crisp, and have excellent contrasts.
are usually dull in brightly lit areas, but the above are said
to perform very well even in these conditions. You will not
need to stare long to appreciate the differences when these
screens are placed side-by-side with conventional ones.
Most people fail to recognize the importance of having a small
AC adapter. Never forget to check the size and weight or you
could end up lugging a brick to your otherwise lightweight
CDROM & FDD
Do not forget to check the type/speed/weight/price of the
external CDROM and FDD kits. Check if the kits are included as
part of the deals.
The size of harddisk drives will vary with different user
requirements, and typically notebooks have at least 4.3Gb HDD
If you need your notebook for high impact multimedia
presentations, the sound chipsets will be of concerned too.
Most notebooks have 16-bit soundcards that generate adequate
CD-quality sound based on either Yamaha or ESS Audio chipsets.
Listen for yourself if the quality and volume of the
speakers are good enough and be sure that there
is a line-out jack to output to more
powerful speaker systems whenever the need arise.
Notebooks typically have the standard plethora of ports
built-in, but the class of sub-notebooks frequently omit them
in favour of external port replicators to save on real-estate.
Therefore, if the ports or replicators are not part of the
bundle, the additional costs must be weighed in as well.
AfterSales and International Warranties
Your notebook is a huge but fragile investment you purchase
from a specific company. It is not often easily reparable in
generic computer stores, so good aftersales support is
definitely a huge plus. International warranties are also
important to business travelers who might need help with their
machines in foreign countries.