to Buy a Business Notebook PC?
Notebook style pc’s make a lot of sense.
With the latest models you get desktop pc performance in a
computer you can take anywhere, video equivalent to flat panel displays,
and affordable prices although you always pay a slight premium for the
Prices have come down to the point that even high-end notebooks
are no longer budget busters.
what should you look for in order to make a smart purchase that will
last for several years?
Remarkably, Intel now has five different processor families that
can be found in notebooks.
The “Mobile Intel Pentium 4” is similar to the regular
“Intel Pentium 4” except it has SpeedStep technology to reduce the
wattage required to power it when the processor is not being used
If you want the highest performance available in a cpu truly
designed for a notebook this is the one to get.
The Mobile Intel Pentium 4 comes in speeds up to 3.06 GHz, with a
front-side bus of 533MHz, and can use 333MHz DDR RAM memory. Not
quite as fast as the fastest Pentium 4 but darn close.
We would recommend this cpu for someone that keeps a dozen
applications open at once and at least one of them is a heavy duty app
requiring serious processing power like AutoCad, Visio, or Visual
The tradeoff between this cpu and the Pentium M, to be described
next, is the power it consumes.
You simply will not get as much run time on battery unless you
purchase a notebook that permits the use of a second battery (and the
weight that goes with it).
The “Intel Pentium M” is Intel’s latest technology and is
the one the typical business user will want to have in his or her
Its architecture allows it to be much more efficient than the
Mobile Intel Pentium 4.
A Pentium M running at 1.4 GHz
is roughly equivalent to a Mobile Intel Pentium 4 running at 2.4 GHz but
uses only a third of the power.
Performance is very good with its 400 MHz front side bus and use
of 266 MHz DDR memory.
Don’t confuse the Intel Pentium M with the “Mobile Intel
Pentium 4 Processor-M” which is being discontinued primarily because
it lacks hyper-threading.
shopping for a notebook you will see the term Centrino.
Is Centrino good?
Should you buy a notebook with Centrino?
Not in our opinion.
Centrino is a brand name permitted to be used if a notebook
includes three Intel components: the Intel Pentium M (good), Intel’s
chip set (good), and Intel’s wireless card (bad).
Its not that Intel makes a bad wireless card, it is because it
only supports 802.11b which is the slowest of the three standards for
wireless local area network connectivity.
If you just plan to use your notebook in wireless mode to connect
to the internet then the slower speed is not a factor.
But, if you plan to connect to your corporate network or any
server for that matter where you run applications, or are accessing
large database files, you will be disappointed.
It is better to get a notebook that can access both 802.11b and
Ideally, it would be able to access any of the three wireless
standards including 802.11a.
you take your notebook with you frequently, weight is a consideration.
Today’s mainstream notebooks have travel weights between 3.5
and eight pounds.
The lightest weight notebooks frequently have a smaller 12”
display and some require you to carry your floppy and optical drive
separately and plug them in as you need them.
This gets to be a bit of a hassle when you end up with many
But once you hit the five plus pound mark there are many
notebooks with a full 14” and 15” display and built-in devices.
time ranges from two to 5.5 hours depending on the model you chose.
It is best to try to find an independent review of the system
that has tested the manufacturers claims.
Be sure to follow the instructions that come with your new
notebook to get the most out of your battery life.
There are some experimental notebooks out now that are running on
fuel cells that will last eight hours on a charge but you probably want
to wait a little on this technology to mature.
and nVidia are developing graphics cards especially for notebooks and if
you are into digital editing, gaming, or 3-dimensional graphics, you
will want to pay special attention to the video card that is built in.
sure to get a hard drive with at least 30GB of storage space but go for
the largest and fastest one you can afford.
Get Windows XP Pro (not XP Home) for your operating
Get a minimum of 256MB of RAM and 512MB if you can talk the boss
Get a DVD ROM / CD-RW combo optical drive so that you can play
DVDs and burn CD’s which is especially useful for backing up data if
for no other reason.
For ports get a 10/100/1000 NIC, two pc card slots, and three
v2.0 USB ports (SD & FireWire are nice extras).
And seriously consider the extended warranty offered with the
notebook to cover you for a full three years if the notebook you want
comes with a one year warranty.
brands we recommend you first look at IBM, Toshiba, and HP Compaq and
stay with their business models. We have found the consumer models to
include too much unneeded software that just slows down the pc over time
and creates problems.
you at the local hot spot!