Sixteen Notebooks for Business Travelers

Reviewers at PC Magazine look at 16 business notebooks that offer both power and productivity to busy professionals.

Purchasing office notebooks is no easy task. Buying trends have shifted as more companies select notebooks for desk-bound duty, as well as travel. And theres a difference between corporate notebooks and business notebooks.

Corporate notebooks come with management software that makes administration easier (discussed in Better Corporate PCs). Business notebooks, the focus of this story, have less refined features and are designed for smaller businesses and individual purchasers. Manufacturers include Dell, Gateway, HP, IBM, MPC, Toshiba, Acer, Fujitsu, Velocity Micro, and WinBook.

Buyers of these laptops can choose between mainstream machines and ultraportables. Mainstream models are often more robust, while the main goal of ultraportables is to significantly lighten the load a briefcase.

Weve seen the Pentium M prevail and a quick adoption of wireless 802.11g solutions in both notebook types. In late 2004, we can expect more significant improvements. The forthcoming Intel Alviso chipset will take even better advantage of the latest Pentium M chips, with support for faster DDR2 memory, the PCI Express bus (which is faster than PCI), Serial ATA drive interfaces, and better graphics and audio. Also, the Centrino platform will finally support 802.11a/g.

With these technological advances, especially the increase in wireless usage, security is a growing concern. Smart cards, already popular in Europe, are slowly beginning to catch on in the U.S. Companies like Fujitsu, HP, and IBM have also added the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip to their notebooks. Built into the motherboard, this part creates an authentication key that is stored in silicon. Running algorithms within itself, the TPM chip off-loads encryption and authentication tasks from the CPU, enabling powerful ways of verifying your machines identity to networks and protected resources, particularly when used in tandem with fingerprint sensors and smart cards.

TPM and smart cards are already available in business notebooks, though some buyers may be waiting for the Alviso chipset to receive all the new features. But for those who cant wait, here are 16 road-ready notebooks on the market now.


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