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Apple PowerBook G4

If you've ever heard me on the radio or on TV, you know that I'm an Apple fan. So it's no surprise that my favorite laptop is an Apple, in particular the PowerBook G4. I gotta tell ya, Apple knows how to do laptops right.

Let's start with the form factor, which is Apple's real forte. The PowerBook is sleek and slim, and looks as good with the case closed as it does in operation. The keyboard has a nice solid feel, and the screen (no matter which size you go with) is bright with a wide viewing angle. It's just a nice-looking machine, no matter how you look at it.

Apple offers three sizes of PowerBooks, for different on-the-go needs. The 12'' model packs a lot of power into a case that's just 10.9'' × 8.6'' when closed; at just 4.6 pounds, it's ideal for users who like to travel light. The 15'' model is more of a full-featured business machine, but still thin and relatively light (5.6 pounds). The big 17'' model is a multimedia powerhouse, ideal for watching and editing video movies; it's not as portable as the others, but it's a true desktop replacement machine.

All three of the PowerBooks are super-thin, only 1.18'' from top to bottom with the case closed. They all come with 512MB memory and Apple's DVD/CD SuperDrive; depending on the model, you get either a 1.5GHz or 1.67GHz PowerPC G4 processor. Hard disk capacities range from 60GB in the 12'' model to 100GB in the 17'' machine. (And here's something super-neat; the 15'' and 17'' models come with full-size illuminated keyboards!)

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Apples are notoriously easy to use, and not as incompatible with Windows PCs as you might think. I know lots of folks who use a Windows desktop PC in the office and an Apple PowerBook on the road; it's a workable—and stylish—combination.

Model: PowerBook G4 Manufacturer: Apple (www.apple.com) Models: 12-inch Combo Drive (12.1'' screen, 1024 × 768 resolution, 1.5GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 512MB memory, 60GB hard drive, 10.9'' × 8.6'' × 1.18''), 15-inch SuperDrive (15.2'' screen, 1280 × 854 resolution, 1.67GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 512 memory, 80GB hard drive, 13.7'' × 9.5'' × 1.1''), 17-inch SuperDrive (17'' screen, 1440 × 990 resolution, 1.67GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 512MB memory, 100GB hard drive, 15.4'' × 10.2'' × 1.0'') Price: $1,499 (12-inch Combo Drive), $2,299 (15-inch SuperDrive), $2,699 (17-inch SuperDrive)

HP Compaq nc8230

Okay, so most of you prefer a Windows machine to an Apple, and that's okay. When you want a business-oriented Windows laptop, you can't do much better than HP's Compaq nc8230 series. You get a nice big 15.4'' screen, 1.86GHz Intel Pentium M 750 processor, 1GB memory, 60GB hard drive, DVD/CD-R drive, and built-in 802.11g WiFi—all for less than two grand. The whole thing weighs just 5.8 pounds, and it's only 1.1'' deep—a decent compromise between size/weight and performance.

Model: Compaq nc8230 Manufacturer: HP (www.hp.com) Screen: 15.4'' Processor: 1.86GHz Intel Pentium M 750 Memory: 1GB Hard drive: 60GB Weight: 5.8 lbs. Price: $1,849

Averatec 6240

You might not have heard of Averatec, but I have, and I really like their products. What you get with the 6240 is a lot of performance in a decent-sized package (1.18'' thick)—and an extremely affordable price. Even better, Averatec's PCs don't use a lot of power, so you get lots of battery time—more than 7 hours, if you're listening to audio CDs. Spec-wise, you get a 15.4'' screen, 512MB RAM, 80GB hard drive, dual DVD burner, and built-in 802.11g WiFi. It might not be a name brand, but you get a lot for your money!

Model: 6240 Manufacturer: Averatec (www.averatec.com) Screen: 15.4'' Processor: Mobile AMD Athlon64 3000+ Memory: 512MB Hard drive: 80GB Weight: 6 lbs. Price: $1,199

Sony VAIO T250

Many road warriors prefer an ultracompact laptop, like the Sony VAIO T250. This puppy measures just 10.7'' (w) × 8.1'' (d) × 1'' (h) with the case closed, and weighs in at a paltry 3 pounds—just the right size and weight to carry in your briefcase. It features a 10.6'' screen and Intel Centrino technology, so you get extremely long battery life—even with the DVD/CD burner. The only drawback is that the T250 is a tad pricy, but you gotta pay extra to make something this good this small.

Model: VAIO T250 Manufacturer: Sony (www.sonystyle.com) Screen: 10.6'' Processor: 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M 753 Memory: 512MB Hard drive: 60GB Weight: 3 lbs. Price: $2,299

Toshiba Portege M200

And now for something completely different. Toshiba's Portege M200 is a combination tablet/notebook PC; just swivel the 12'' screen around to write on it with a stylus, or leave it in place for regular typing. For tablet use, the screen rotates into either portrait or landscape orientation. Feature-wise, you get Centrino technology with built-in 802.11g WiFi and a 60GB hard drive; one drawback is that the base machine doesn't come with an optical drive (Toshiba offers an external USB DVD/CD drive, if you like).

Model: Portege M200 Manufacturer: Toshiba (www.toshiba.com) Screen: 12'' Processor: 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M 735 Memory: 512MB Hard drive: 60GB Weight: 4.5 lbs. Price: $1,899

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