Notebook computer grows up

It wasn’t too long ago, even in computer time, when a notebook or laptop computer was only suitable for number crunching accountants who had to work in several locations.

Small, often unreadable screens, cramped keyboards, skimpy hard drives and short battery life made notebooks simply unworkable for the average user.

Last week, I moved my computer from one office to another. As I disconnected and later re-connected the maze of wires and cables that a desktop PC requires, the idea of a powerful new notebook seemed very attractive. Do any of us really need a desktop PC any more? Recent advances in miniaturization have made the notebook a viable option for the home user.

Designed for portability
Dell is one of a multitude of computer manufacturers now selling notebooks that offer many of the features once found only on cumbersome desktops. The company’s Inspiron 8000 notebook is a potent combination of processing power, audio and video performance and peripheral support.

This is one of the new notebook computers that can outperform many desktop systems, yet is designed for portability. And, perhaps best of all, like any notebook, idoesn’t have a thicket of cables to hook up each time you want to move it. That’s a boon, whether you’re going to the cottage or for an extended winter vacation down south.

This flexibility does come at a price, though. Prices for the Inspiron 8000 notebook start at $2,799 for a system equipped with a 600-MHz Intel Mobile Celeron processor, a 14.1-inch SXGA+ display, 64 MB of SDRAM and a 5 GB hard disk drive.

Portability advantage
Dell’s many competitors make similar models sold at comparable prices. So this leaves today’s computer shopper with a straightforward choice. Do I spend the extra money on a portable machine?

Desktop computers have never been cheaper on a dollar/performance basis. But you have to look at whether you really want a large beige machine hogging all the space in your den, dining room, or bedroom. One of today’s powerful new portables could deliver the flexibility you’ve been missing, and free up some space in your house.

With the leading edge performance of today’s laptops, it really boils down to a question of what you’re willing to pay for.