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The Holiday Guide to


an Personal Technology eBook
[ ]
Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers

This content was adapted from's Hardware Central, and SmallBusinessComputing Web sites.
Contributors: Eric Grevstad and Jamie Bsales.

3 Acer Aspire One:
No. 1 in Value
Eric Grevstad

6 Lenovo IdeaPad U110:
An Attractive Idea
3 Eric Grevstad

8 Lenovo ThinkPad X200:
A Three-Pound Hatchling
Ready to Fly
Jamie Bsales

6 8 10 Gateway M-1626:
64 But Not Hardcore
Eric Grevstad

14 Lenovo ThinkPad X300:
You Know You Want It
Eric Grevstad

10 14 17 HP 2133 Mini-Note:
Eric Grevstad

20 HP EliteBook 6930p:
Keep Your Data and
Hardware Secure
17 20 Jamie Bsales

Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.

[ Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers ]

Holiday Guide
to Laptop
Computers's editors review dozens of gadgets from

aybe you've got a laptop user on your holiday
shopping list, or maybe you want to take desktop computers to mobile accessories throughout
advantage of holiday deals to update your the year. Here's a look at some of the laptops they
existing system. Either way, we created this guide for tested in 2008. Use them to educate yourself before members researching mobile computers you start buying. Good luck and happy holidays!
that keep them in touch wherever they go.

…we created this guide for members researching
mobile computers that keep them in touch wherever they go.

2 ”
Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
[ Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers ]

Acer Aspire One: No. 1 in Value

By Eric Grevstad
book wars, the Aspire One. True, "impressed" doesn't

e have a winner, if not in the sales competition at
least in the nomenclature contest: The low-priced, mean "enraptured"; Intel's new Atom processor's per-
lightweight laptops inspired by last fall's Asus Eee formance is underwhelming, and our test unit delivered
PC and since described as everything from mini-notebooks disappointingly brief battery life.
to kneetops to Microsoft's catchy acronym ULCPCs (ultra-
low-cost PCs) are now universally called netbooks, after their But the Acer is a handsome and classy ultraportable
primary purpose of simple Web and e-mail access. with a high-quality 8.9-inch display, a remarkably usable
keyboard, and the familiar environment of Windows XP
They're also selling like mad to students Home Edition with an ample 120GB hard disk for
and traveling professionals who don't installing applications and storing data,
want to carry a heavy full-sized laptop music, and image files.
just for going online or doing some word Considering that it cost the
processing or presentation work -- and same $399 as the 7-inch, key-
who don't want to pay big bucks for an board- and storage-cramped
upscale ultralight such as Apple's Eee PC 4G we cheered last
MacBook Air or Lenovo's ThinkPad November, we decided fairly
X301. That's why Asus has been joined quickly to give it a thumbs up.
by HP, Acer, MSI, and (soon) Dell
and Lenovo, all trying to find the And that was before Acer low-
sweet spot of reduced-but- ered the price to $349.
not-too-reduced features
and performance ver- Go Get Your
sus price.
Own, Kid
Trouble is, the plunging prices of full- Actually, Acer has introduced what it
fledged notebooks are screwing with the sweet calls back-to-school savings on two
spot. HP offers a bare-bones, Linux-based configuration Aspire One models. Our review system,
of its 2133 Mini-Note for $499, but the top-of-the-line model AOA150-1570, combines Windows XP
Windows Vista Business model is a hefty $829. with 1GB of memory and the abovementioned 120GB
hard disk.
And while the original 7-inch-screened Eee flew off the
shelves at $400, Asus' current 10-inch Eee PC 1000 For $329, the Aspire One AOA110-1722 stays closer to
costs $700. That's not even mentioning the online buzz the first Eee recipe with the Linpus Linux Lite operating
about an Asus presentation this summer that outlined a system, 512MB of RAM, and an 8GB solid-state drive
confusing crop of more than 20 Eee-branded PCs at (SSD) instead of a hard disk. Like the Eee 4G's variation
prices up to $900. Can you say "losing sight of simple on Xandros Linux, the Linpus platform hides the open-
and affordable"? source OS' complexity behind point-and-click icons in
categories such as Connect (browser, instant messen-
That's why we're impressed with Acer's entry in the net- ger, e-mail), Fun (media player, photo manager), and

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Work (the word processor, spread- Like all netbooks, the Acer's keyboard reflects some
sheet, and so on). downsizing -- the A through apostrophe keys span 7.25
inches, compared to 8 inches for a desktop keyboard
Both of the above Aspires come with a three-cell bat- and 7.5 inches for the category-leading HP 2133.
tery pack that fits flush with the back of the case. Acer
has assigned the $399 price point to a new Win XP But it's considerably more comfortable than the 6.5
configuration (AOA150-1447) with a 160GB hard drive inches of the original Eee PC 4G, with a sturdy, first-
and six-cell battery. class typing feel that encourages almost-full-speed
touch typing after just an hour or so of practice or con-
We'd like to get our hands on the six-pack, because we sciously precise fingerwork.
rarely got the One to run for more than two hours
unplugged -- maybe two hours and ten minutes doing Considering that we could come up with only one
light productivity work with the Wi-Fi radio turned off, minor gripe about the layout -- the lack of dedicated
but that proved the best-case scenario. Two hours is all PgUp and PgDn keys (they're Fn-key combinations with
right for a luggable desktop replacement, but a toss-it- the Home and End keys) -- you're left with a keyboard
into-your-briefcase-or-backpack netbook should last that ranks near the top of the netbook category.
much longer.
Unfortunately, we can't say the same for the cursor-con-
At least Acer's advertised lifespan for the three-cell trol touchpad below the space bar -- it's awfully small,
pack -- a maximum two and a half hours with the hard with stiff and noisy mouse buttons mounted on either
disk, three hours with SSD -- is less exaggerated than side rather than beneath the pad's perimeter.
most notebook vendors' battery claims. So when the
company estimates six hours for the six-cell, we can Tinkering with the controls enables handy features such
hope for an honest five. as virtual scrolling (moving your finger either up and
down along the right edge of the pad, or in counter- or
Am I Blue? clockwise circles next to the edge), but these reduce
the already cramped room to maneuver. Overall, the
The Aspire One measures 6.7 x 9.8 x 1.1 inches and touchpad is tolerable, but a notebook mouse would
weighs 2.3 pounds -- an even three pounds with its AC make a good holiday gift for an Aspire One owner.

It's also available in white, but we vote for the Aspire in
our test unit's deep blue, which manages to be both Speaking of scrolling, the Acer's screen's 1,024 x 600
one of the best-looking and best fingerprint- and resolution will oblige you to do a bit more vertical
smudge-collecting shades we've seen. There's no pol- scrolling than you're used to, but at least spare you the
ishing cloth in the box for buffing the netbook's lid and chore of having to move horizontally to see a whole
palm rest, but there's a soft, snug-fitting carrying Web page as the 7-inch Eee's 800 x 680-pixel panel
pouch. did.

A tiny slider switch on the Acer's front edge turns the The 8.9-inch Aspire One display is crisp and bright, at
802.11b/g wireless on and off. Microphone and head- least with the LED backlight on the top three or four of
phone jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, and an its ten brightness settings. Colors looked great, albeit
SD/MMC/xD/Memory Stick flash-card slot are on the sensitive to nudging the screen tilt a few degrees for-
system's right side, with a third USB port, VGA and ward or back, with less of the shaving-mirror effect
Ethernet ports, and an additional SD card slot along we've seen with other glossy LCDs. If you do want to
the left. look at your reflection, there's a bare-bones 640 x 480
webcam above the screen.
On the Linux model, this slot performs the nifty trick of
merging a memory card with the SSD as seamless main Under the hood, you'll find 1GB of DDR2/667 memory
storage, rather than appearing as an additional drive. and a 120GB, 5,400 rpm Hitachi SATA hard drive, as

4 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
[ Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers ]
well as Intel's Atom N270 -- a single-core, 1.6GHz A Real Deal
processor with 512K of Level 2 cache and a 533MHz
front-side bus. While the netbook has 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, neither
Bluetooth nor 3G wireless broadband are included.
The watt-saving CPU revives the Hyper-Threading Plugging in a USB dongle can get you the former; Acer
Technology that Intel touted before it had true dual- has mentioned an internal upgrade for the latter, but
core processors, giving at least a modest boost for mul- there's no hard news as of yet. It's 3G we're thinking of
tithreaded applications or multitasking -- the Acer ren- when we say we wish the Aspire One had an
dered Cinebench 10's sample scene in a bit over 27 ExpressCard slot like Lenovo's IdeaPad S10.
minutes without Hyper-Threading, but less than 18 min-
utes with the feature enabled. Acer's software bundle is modest. Sixty-day trial ver-
sions of Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student and
To be sure, 18 minutes for Cinebench 10 -- or 1 minute McAfee Security Center are preinstalled, as are
and 15 seconds to boot XP and load the preinstalled Microsoft Works, Yahoo Toolbar, and InterVideo
utilities and taskbar icons, or four seconds' wait after WinDVD, presumably for users who'll buy a USB exter-
right-clicking the desktop and clicking Properties to see nal DVD drive. The day we registered our McAfee trial,
the Display Properties dialog box -- is not dazzling per- we were amused to get an e-mail offering the full ver-
formance. Overall, the Aspire One is clearly faster than sion of the security suite for 29 percent off the list price,
the VIA C7-based HP 2133, and perfectly adequate for followed a few hours later by an offer for 36 percent
everyday applications, but occasionally feels a bit slug- off. We figure if we wait another day or two we'll get a
gish. better offer.

Plugged into an external monitor for the sake of our By contrast, we doubt that netbook shoppers will see a
benchmark tests' XGA resolution -- the system can better offer than the Win XP Aspire One for $349
either clone its LCD display on an attached monitor or (though we're equally tempted by the six-cell model for
work at higher resolution with the LCD switched off -- $399). Right now, the Acer saves you at least $100 and
the Acer posted a PCMark05 score of 1,501 (CPU in some cases over $200 compared to competitors
1,478; memory 2,350; hard disk 3,872; graphics 549). from HP, Asus, and MSI. It also seems likely to undercut
the latecomers from Lenovo and Dell, unless those ven-
And we cry "Oh noooo!" like Mr. Bill whenever we dis- dors come in significantly below their announced or
cover that a PC has the old Intel 945GME chipset's anticipated prices.
GMA 950 integrated graphics. The Acer upheld the
video platform's molasses reputation by meandering to Along the way, it turns the "Since a netbook nowadays
3DMark06 and 3DMark05 scores of 109 and 248, costs the same or more, why not get a real notebook?"
respectively, and stumbling through the DirectX 9.0 argument upside down: If you can settle for a plug-in
game simulation AquaMark3 at 4 frames per second. optical drive and slightly subpar touchpad, why should
you spend more than $400 or carry more than three
pounds? This may be the year's best PC value. I

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[ Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers ]

Lenovo IdeaPad U110: An Attractive Idea

By Eric Grevstad

mon with ultralights, there's a larger, longer-lived alter-

o you change clothes when you come home from
work? You probably trade your conservative duds for native battery -- a seven-cell pack that protrudes slight-
something more colorful and comfortable (unless ly at the rear and below and hikes system weight to 2.9
you're Superman, who dresses more colorfully when going pounds.
to work).
If you winced when you read the U110's price, you
Lenovo does the same thing: When it supplemented its should take into account that both batteries, like the
ThinkPad business laptop line with a series of consumer USB optical drive and a soft carrying pouch,
notebooks dubbed IdeaPad, the company gave the come with the system instead of hiding as
ultralight IdeaPad U110 not a matte black but a options or asterisks on a lower advertised
vivid red case lid, garnished with an ornate tex- price. Also, though the IdeaPad has a
tured paisley pattern that's even echoed on the smidgen less sex appeal, it costs the
underside with artfully cut cooling vents. same as an Apple MacBook Air with
no optical drive or swappable bat-
But there's more to the U110 than flash and splash. tery.
Once you admit that it's a splurge at $1,899, the 11.1-
inch-screened compact is an appealing civilian alterna- On the minus side, while
tive to the super-elite $3,000 ThinkPad X300 slimline Lenovo estimates that the lit-
we love. tle and big batteries can last
as long as two and six hours,
Extreme Portability respectively, our U110 fell far
short of such endurance. The
While the X300 is remarkably four-cell lasted barely an hour and
light for a notebook that a quarter in our real-world work ses-
includes an onboard opti- sions. The seven-cell averaged about
cal drive, the U110 is three hours in mixed-use stints without
lighter still, because (spoiler the DVD±RW attached and two hours
ahead) it doesn't. Instead, the IdeaPad comes with a when using the drive to watch a DVD.
13-ounce external DVD±RW drive that plugs into the
two USB 2.0 ports on the system's left side. (One port Besides the two USB ports, the notebook's left side
isn't enough to power the AC-adapter-less drive.) offers a VGA monitor connector and an exhaust-fan
vent that can get pretty warm. A third USB port,
Setting aside the DVD burner and the system's AC FireWire and Ethernet connectors, microphone and
adapter (11 ounces), the Lenovo measures 7.7 x 10.8 x headphone jacks, a six-format memory-card reader slot,
0.9 inches and tips the scales at 2.4 pounds with the and an ExpressCard slot are at the right. Bluetooth is
provided four-cell battery pack, which fits flush with the standard, along with 802.11a/g Wi-Fi.
notebook for a sleek and trim appearance. As is com-

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The small laptop makes room for a full-sized keyboard 2,891) -- decent numbers except for the last, reflecting
(8 inches from A through apostrophe), except for half- the leisurely 4,200-rpm Toshiba 120GB hard disk.
sized function, Delete, and cursor-control keys. The
only layout quirk that takes a little adjusting to is that, The slimline scored 3.5 on its Windows Vista Home
while there are dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys instead Premium (Service Pack 2) operating system's 5.9-point
of the common and clumsy Fn-key-plus-cursor-arrow Experience Index scale. It rendered Cinebench 10's
combinations, there aren't dedicated Home and End sample image in 4 minutes and 36 seconds with both
keys -- those are the Fn key plus PgUp and PgDn. CPU cores active.
(Pressing the Fn key along with the cursor arrows dials
the LCD backlight and audio volume up or down.) The U110's integrated Graphics Media Accelerator
X3100 (Intel GM965 chipset) graphics do disqualify it
We had to adjust to something else during our first for all but the most casual gaming -- 10 and 23 frames
hour or two with the U110 -- the keys, like the palm rest per second in the old, low-octane AquaMark3 and
below them, are a glossy black that becomes smoth- Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, respectively, with a
ered with smudgy fingerprints after about five minutes. 3DMark06 score of 593 (1,280 x 768 resolution with no
They actually felt a bit slippery at first, like walking on antialiasing).
freshly waxed floor tiles, but our fingers quickly adjust-
ed. Call the result a medium-good but not exceptional Take a Look at Me Now
typing feel.
Most of the IdeaPad's software bundle is what you'd
The IdeaPad breaks from Lenovo's ThinkPads in not expect -- trial versions of Norton AntiVirus and
having a center-of-keyboard nub or pointing stick for Microsoft Office; CyberLink's Power2Go for burning
mouse control, just a smallish touchpad with good- music, video, and photo DVDs and CDs; a handy
sized mouse buttons below it. It worked smoothly and EasyCapture utility for taking snapshots with the 1.3-
nearly silently in our tests. megapixel webcam above the screen. Shuttle Center II
is an eye-candy alternative to Windows Media Center
At the risk of getting spoiled, we're rapidly losing our for perusing and using your MP3s, images, and other
affection for laptop LCDs without the latest LED back- multimedia files.
light technology. The notebook's 11.1-inch, LED-backlit
display is crisp and clear, at least at the top two or We were disappointed, however, by one of Lenovo's
three of its brightness settings -- when we first read the touted features -- VeriFace, a software solution that
system specs we feared that squeezing 1,366 x 768 res- uses the webcam to identify your face and automate
olution into the relatively small widescreen panel would your Windows login and Web site passwords, as many
make text and icons too tiny for tired eyes, but the dis- notebooks' fingerprint readers do.
play proved first-class, superbly sharp with colors that
pop. It also fits flush with the surrounding black border It turns out we have a forgettable face. Sometimes
instead of having a traditional bezel -- Lenovo calls it VeriFace recognized us and proceeded to Windows
"frameless" -- for an even cooler appearance. after just one or two passes of its on-screen scanner
(which puts creepy circles over your eyes as part of its
It's not just in size and style that the IdeaPad U110 face mapping), but sometimes we spent a frustrating
stands comparison with the ThinkPad X300. Thanks to five minutes trying different positions, angles, and gen-
a faster CPU -- Intel's 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo L7500, with erally playing peek-a-boo with a scanner determined,
an 800MHz front-side bus and 4MB of Level 2 cache -- Mission Impossible-style, to disavow any knowledge of
the consumer compact beat the professional model in our actions. We switched the feature off after a couple
many of our benchmark tests. of days.

Fitted with 2GB of DDR2/667 memory (one 1GB module Still, the IdeaPad U110 has plenty of attractive features
on the motherboard and one in the system's sole memo- for someone seeking an ultralight with more pizzazz
than your average ThinkPad or Portege. And if red's
not your color, it also comes in black. I
ry slot), the IdeaPad posted a PCMark05 score of 3,476
(CPU 4,007; memory 3,737; graphics 1,628; hard drive

7 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
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Lenovo ThinkPad X200: A Three-Pound
Hatchling Ready to Fly
By Jamie Bsales

integrated graphics via a faster Graphics Media

f you've been schlepping around a too-heavy, too-slow
notebook for too long, Intel and Lenovo have given you Accelerator X4500HD chip with hardware-based high-
even more reasons to buy a better laptop. The new definition video decoding. Intel boasts that Centrino 2
ThinkPad X200 is Lenovo's latest ultraportable notebook, a both improves notebook performance and extends
three-pound hatchling that's ready to fly thanks to Intel's new battery life.
Centrino 2 mobile-PC platform.
Indeed, in our informal testing, the Core 2 Duo
The X200 replaces the ThinkPad X61, slotting below P8400-powered (a 2.26GHz
the rave-reviewed but hyper-pricey ThinkPad processor with 3MB of Level 2
X300 in Lenovo's lineup. Instead of the latter's cache) Lenovo generally out-
13.3-inch display, the X200 is built around a performed other ultraportables
12.1-inch screen that gives the system a foot- in the three-pound weight
print about the size of a sheet of paper. range, launching and running
applications at speeds tradition-
Its slim profile tapers from less than an inch ally reserved for larger laptops. A
to 1.4 inches thick, and its light weight 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo P8600 CPU is
makes it easy to tote to meetings an option.
or slip in your bag. The
exterior is the familiar If you spend a lot of time away from
ThinkPad matte black; an electrical outlet, you'll also
it won't turn heads, but does appreciate the X200's battery life,
give an appropriately professional which Lenovo estimates at 3.2 hours
impression. with the standard four-cell battery and more
than nine hours with a nine-cell battery that
Beauty on the Inside hikes system weight to 3.6 pounds.

While the X200's exterior is buttoned-down, its sex
appeal lurks on the inside. Intel's Centrino 2 platform
Business-Friendly Features
marries the latest generation of speedy Core 2 Duo The ThinkPad has other features a business pro would
processors to a faster front-side bus (1066MHz, up crave. Unlike other ultraportables, which make you
from 800MHz in previous Centrino solutions), which suffer with an undersized keyboard, the X200's key-
helps eliminate performance bottlenecks at the board is full-sized, with the famous feel and respon-
system level. siveness long a hallmark of ThinkPad portables.
Lenovo also provides dedicated volume and mute
Centrino 2 also delivers an improved Wi-Fi wireless buttons (no more fumbling with a Fn-key combo) as
chip including 802.11-DraftN support, as well as well as the handy ThinkLight, a white LED above the
embedded Gigabit Ethernet networking and improved screen that gives off just enough light to illuminate

8 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
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the keyboard in a dark room. The Tradeoffs
The 12.1-inch, 1,200 x 800-resolution screen is bright While the X200 has a lot going for it, it does necessi-
and exceedingly sharp. Compared to its X61 prede- tate a few tradeoffs typical of the ultraportable class.
cessor's 1,024 x 768-pixel panel, the widescreen First and foremost, unlike the pricier X300, the note-
aspect ratio keeps the height of the panel fairly squat, book doesn't have a built-in optical drive. You'll have to
which makes the X200 ideal for use on an airline tray invest in a USB-based external drive or opt for Lenovo's
table. You can equip the X200 with an 80GB, 160GB, snap-on UltraBase accessory, which adds a modular bay
or 320GB hard drive; a 200GB, 7,200-rpm drive with for a CD-RW/DVD-ROM, DVD±RW, or Blu-ray drive or
Full Disk Encryption; or a 64GB solid-state drive (SSD) a second battery second hard disk.
that uses indestructible flash memory instead of spin-
ning platters. If you've ever had a traditional hard The small size of the X200 also means there was only
drive die on you, the allure of an SSD is obvious. room for the familiar ThinkPad TrackPoint pointing stick,
not the touchpad most portable users have grown
With the exception of FireWire, the X200 has all the accustomed to. And while the notebook's built-in
ports you're likely to need, including three USB 2.0 speaker is fine for personal use, you'll want to rely on
ports; a VGA connector for hooking up a projector or your projector's speakers if you're given a presentation
monitor; modem and Ethernet jacks; and a PC Card in any but the smallest conference room.
slot. Options include a fingerprint reader for added
login security, a Webcam for videoconferencing, and a But these compromises can be said of most every
five-format memory-card reader. three-pound PC, and the X200 does away with two of
the biggest shortcomings of previous examples: so-so
Lenovo also offers optional wireless broadband, which performance and a cramped, substandard keyboard.
lets you connect via cellular carriers' high-speed net- Even better, the base configuration starts at a reason-
works; the WWAN option has a handy option of its own able $1,199. Considering its cutting-edge features and
horsepower, that price makes the ThinkPad X200 a bar-
gain to boot. I
in GPS navigation. If you often find yourself paying for
wireless access at airports, hotels, and other W-fi hot
spots -- or find yourself someplace without Wi-Fi alto-
gether -- this feature can pay for itself quickly.

9 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
[ Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers ]

Gateway M-1626: 64 But Not Hardcore

By Eric Grevstad

Nearly Compatible
C prices have come way down? A thousand bucks will
buy you a first-class desktop? Even less will buy you a
Technically speaking, we're tickled to see mainstream
capable notebook? This is incredible! What's that you
consumers board the 64-bit computing bandwagon.
say? Why yes, my name is Van Winkle. How did you know?
Practically speaking, we're not sure it's worth it: The
number of 64-bit x86 programs is still exceptionally
Obviously it's no longer news that even non-tech-
small and still skewed toward specialized and/or enter-
savvy, non-wealthy consumers are buying PCs at
prise applications. Heck, there are still disappointingly
which even experienced power users can't sneer (well,
few multithreaded applications that take full advantage
can sneer only at their lack of gonzo gaming
of multicore processors.
graphics or ponderous
power supplies). The shelves
Until that changes, the main benefit of 64-bit
of Staples or Best Buy or
Windows for M-1626 owners will be better mul-
Wal-Mart or [insert retailer
titasking for their 32-bit wares, and -- in some-
here] are full of such
thing likely to puzzle retail consumers more
than it will power users -- they'll give up a
small but significant amount of driver and
Nor is it a shocker to find ven-
application support to get it. Indeed,
dors better known for direct
the laptop comes with a DVD
online and phone sales, such as
with both 32- and 64-bit fla-
Dell and Gateway, at your nearest
vors of Vista Home Premium,
superstore, often selling slightly
along with documentation say-
different, prepackaged configura-
ing, "The powerful, preinstalled
tions of the systems you see on their
Windows Vista 64-bit edition is not for every-
Web sites. The Gateway M-1626 is one
one" and giving drive-reformatting instructions for
such machine -- a version of the company's M-
those who "prefer to install 32-bit Windows Vista for
Series 15.4-inch laptop with a sober black instead of
comprehensive hardware and software compatibility."
some models' snazzy red or blue case, available for
$850 at Office Depot.
And as far as megatasking is concerned, the supplied
4GB of system RAM is the Gateway's hardware ceiling.
It's still a bit out of the ordinary, however, to find a 64-
That will disappoint geeks who might dream about the
bit operating system between the toner-cartridge and
operating system's support for up to 16GB.
ballpoint-pen aisles. The AMD Turion 64 X2-powered
Gateway comes with 4GB of dual-channel DDR-2/667
So, 64-bit Vista aside, what does the M-1626 have to
memory, a chunk more than 32-bit Windows Vista can
offer? Basically, bread and butter: a capable, full-sized
use but a good amount for the preinstalled Vista
notebook with nice features and decent performance
Home Premium 64-bit edition.
for any productivity (as opposed to gaming or video-

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Microsoft Wireless
editing) job.

Laser Mouse 6000 2.0
Our biggest complaint is that, though the Gateway is
more portable than some of its 15.4-inch peers, it has

the poor battery life of a larger desktop replacement --
an hour and a half in our disk- and multimedia-intensive
sessions, peaking at an hour and three-quarters for By Eric Grevstad
undemanding word processing and spreadsheet work.
t's hardly a radical
idea, but you wonder
We were also bemused to see Windows' low-battery
why no one thought of
warning pop up every time we booted the laptop on
it before. Microsoft, like
battery power, even if the battery was actually full.
its rival Logitech, makes
Basic Black numerous mice designed
for use with notebook
Clad in matte black with a grippable if slightly smudge- PCs -- scaled-down devices that don't take much
prone textured lid, the Gateway measures 10 x 14 x 1.5 space in a traveler's briefcase, usually with a niche
inches and tips the scale at 5.9 pounds -- just under our or cubbyhole on the underside to hold the cordless
mouse's USB receiver so the latter is less likely to
get lost in said briefcase.
this-is-too-much-to-carry threshold -- with the AC
adapter bringing total travel weight to 6.7 pounds.
Fancy styling touches are limited to a flush-fitting strip However, according to Microsoft, more than a third
of Windows Media Center and multimedia control keys of consumers prefer to buy full-sized desktop mice
above the keyboard. to use with their laptops, to avoid having to adjust
from a hand rest to a fingertip grip when leaving
the office or home. Presto, the Wireless Laser
Mouse 6000 -- a full-sized, $50 mouse with a USB
You'll find microphone and headphone jacks on the
adapter that snaps into a bottom slot just like its
front edge of the system, with the Optiarc dual-layer
miniature siblings.
DVD±RW drive -- with LabelFlash technology to etch
labels onto special CDs, as with the LightScribe drives
in many HP computers -- joined by a USB 2.0 port on To forestall any confusion among mouse model
the right. VGA and modem ports are at the rear. memorizers, we should note that the new mouse
takes the name of the model it replaces in
Microsoft's crowded lineup, the Wireless Laser
Mouse 6000. The label on the mouse's bottom adds a
On the M-1626's left side are two more USB ports; an
v2.0 suffix, but it's safe to assume nobody will expe-
Ethernet connector; a flash-card slot for SD, MMC, xD,
and MS/Pro storage formats; and an ExpressCard/54 rience déjà vu upon seeing the 6000 in a store.
expansion slot. The left side also offers a not-yet-com-
mon feature -- an HDMI port for connecting the A Slippery Slope
Gateway to many HDTV sets. Unfortunately, the ATI Measuring a conventional 2.8 x 4.9 inches, the 6000
follows recent Redmond rodents in offering a right-
hand-only ergonomic design that slopes downward
Radeon 1270 integrated graphics hit the wall at the
from left to right as you look at the mouse from
screen's native 1,280 x 800 resolution instead of sup-
behind, so your index finger is at the summit and
porting any 720- or 1080-line HDTV modes.
your pinky fingertip brushes your mouse pad or
It's not one of AMD's new Turion X2 Ultras, but the desk or airline tray table.
Gateway's Turion 64 X2 TL-60 processor is a
There's a trough or scoop on the right that feels like
it's supposed to support your ring finger, though it's
respectable 65-nanometer-process, 2.0GHz CPU with
too shallow to hold the latter in place; it's all too
512K of Level 2 cache for each of its two cores. It's
easy to let that fingertip slip downward so that it,
paired with an ATI RS690T chipset, which is paired with
128MB of dedicated memory (and can borrow more too, brushes the desktop. On the other hand, or
from system memory) for its Radeon X1270 integrated rather the other side, there's a roomy, concave rub-
graphics. berized grip for your thumb.
The latter is an old and humble DirectX 9.0 graphics

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Apart from the ring-finger quibble, we found the
solution, which put on a slide show (6 frames per sec-
ond) in our DX9 benchmark test Gun Metal 2 at XGA mouse perfectly comfortable even through long
resolution. It improved to 9 fps in the OpenGL test days of working overtime. Sliver-sized Forward and
Lightsmark 2007 at 1,200 x 800 resolution. Back buttons (more like one long button bisected;
programmable for other functions via Microsoft's
software driver) ride just above your thumb atop the
mouse's left edge.
Other results weren't quite as rock-bottom, with a
3DMark06 score of 311 at full-screen resolution with no
antialiasing. The Gateway rendered Cinebench 10's As with most side-mounted Forward and Back duos
sample scene in 4 minutes and 20 seconds with both we try, clicking Forward involves a much more natu-
CPU cores firing. ral flick of the thumb than the tiny but awkward up-
and-back motion required to get your thumb on the
Back button. In fact, when we flexed our thumb, it
often hit the strip dead center and pressed both but-
As for overall performance, our usual SysMark 2007
tons, so we assigned Back to both buttons in our
application benchmark doesn't run under 64-bit
Windows, but the Gateway gets a Windows Experience browser.
rating of 3.0 on Vista's 5.9-point scale. The notebook's
suitability for gaming graphics is the low point, but it The 6000's scroll wheel has a smooth, seamless feel
earns relatively high ratings for both system memory that will disappoint users accustomed to slight
clicks or detents during scrolling, but with a little
practice we were elevatoring up and down through
and the 250GB, 5,400-rpm Western Digital hard drive.
our e-mail inbox with no under- or overshooting a
Image and Input target.

The wheel also tilts left and right for horizontal
Speaking of graphics, the M-1626's widescreen display
is reasonably bright (at its top two or three backlight scrolling through spreadsheets or zoom views of
brightness settings) and colorful, if not particularly vivid images or Web pages, though (as we've grumbled in
despite its glossy coating. None of our test unit's 1,280 many another review) Microsoft's driver doesn't let
you reprogram left and right tilts to other functions
as Logitech's does. The latter's quick sideways flicks
x 800 pixels were bad, and Gateway's wise/thrifty deci-
remain our favorite Back and Forward.
sion to forgo any higher resolution for its 15.4 diagonal
inches made easy reading of even small icon and menu
text, even in dimly lit rooms. The IntelliPoint 6.2 driver does let you reassign all
five buttons, counting a click of the scroll wheel, to
The laptop's keyboard is spacious and holds no layout other functions ranging from the usual undo, cut,
surprises -- all right, the Ctrl key is second from left copy, paste, or zoom to Flip 3D -- Windows Vista
Aero's pretty shuffle-stack of active windows -- or
Instant Viewer -- a tamer Win XP version of the same
instead of far left in the bottom row, as we inevitably
that arranges current program windows on the
grouse about, but Delete is in the top right corner
where it belongs, and there are real Home, End, PgUp, screen like a geeky art gallery.
and PgDn keys instead of Fn-plus-cursor-arrow impos-
tors. More options include launching a specified applica-
tion or creating and running a macro combination
of keystrokes. And Microsoft didn't forget the con-
venience of program-specific settings, so the same
We wound up disabling horizontal scrolling, which
button that's Back in your browser can be Undo in
seemed to pop into play whenever we wanted simple
your word processor.
horizontal cursor movement, but both the touchpad
and twin mouse buttons below it are amply sized and
comfortably smooth to use. A Magnifier function opens a zoom window that you
can drag around the screen for a zoom view of the
pixels beneath. A slightly awkward process of hold-
ing the assigned button while moving the mouse or
In addition to Vista Home Premium 64-Bit, the Gateway
scrolling the wheel lets you resize the magnifying
comes with 60-day trial versions of Symantec's Norton
lens or switch among several levels of magnification.
Security 2008 and Microsoft's Office Home and Student
2007 plus Works and Money Essentials. The Wild
Tangent game service and Napster music player are continued
also standard, as is Gateway's consumer-friendly BigFix

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Set loose on a crowded desk, the 6000 turned in a
upgrade notice utility. A nice pull-out sidebar at one
side of the screen controls the 1.3-megapixel webcam fine performance. Its 1,000 dpi resolution -- what
centered above it. Microsoft calls High Definition Laser Technology --
gives sufficient room to move even with just two and
Frankly, mainstream 15.4-inch notebooks are getting a half or three inches of free space next to a note-
book. After a few minutes' practice, we were maneu-
vering as precisely as a Smart car in city traffic.
squeezed between 14- and 13-inch and smaller light-
weight travelers and 17-inch deluxe desktop replace-
ments. That said, the M-1626 (or another Gateway M It worked smoothly on every surface we tried except
Series model, some with Intel and some with AMD that nemesis of optical mice, a mirror, while its
power), is a solid, workmanlike choice for its $850 price, interference-resistant 2.4GHz radio connection kept
especially for anyone shopping for 64- rather than 32- the mouse and PC in contact even from the next
bit Windows. The trouble is, we don't think there'll be room with a wall in between.
swarms of such shoppers at Office Depot. I
Travelin' On
A light on top of the mouse glows when its two AA
alkalines are growing weak, which we didn't have
time to observe -- Microsoft claims some users will
see up to six months between battery replacements
(or refills if you're doing the green thing and using
rechargeable NiMH cells). Such users probably get
in the habit of unplugging the mouse's flash-drive-
sized USB transceiver from the PC or laptop and
snapping it into its niche on the 6000's underside,
which automatically turns the mouse off.

Basically, the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 breaks a
decade of silence in exposing the secret shame of
so-called notebook mice: It's not that much harder to
find room in your briefcase or laptop case for a
mouse that's two inches larger. As such, the 6000 is
a first-class candidate to be your only mouse -- to use
both when you're at your desk and when you're
mobile. I

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Lenovo ThinkPad X300:
You Know You Want It
By Eric Grevstad

cially when coupled with what Lenovo calls glass- and

e can't keep it. Our eval loan has run out and we
have to return this Lenovo ThinkPad X300 review carbon-fiber "roll cage" construction and a
unit next week. But that's all right. We'll find a way. ThinkVantage Active Protection System that automati-
We can follow it back to Lenovo's address in North Carolina. cally turns off the drive when the X300 is jolted or
We can stalk it. Someday it'll be in our arms again and we dropped. The latter feature isn't nearly as necessary for
can tell it how we feel. We'll say those three little words we an SSD as for a mechanical drive, but it has a cute real-
thought we'd never say, words no level-headed PC reviewer time display window in which you can watch an animat-
should swoon and say: ed image of the ThinkPad jiggle and jump as you mis-
treat it.
Best notebook ever.
But the real reason the X300 inspires devotion is that
If You Have To Ask ... it's the PC market's closest thing to Apple's celebrated,
skinny status symbol, the
They say love is blind, and MacBook Air. At 9.1 x 12.5 x
we were struck blind by our 1 inches, it isn't quite as
first look at the X300's price svelte as the Apple, but has
tag: At retail, our test config- essential features the Air
uration (model 6478-1VU) lacks -- a DVD±RW drive,
costs as much as four ade- for example, along with an
quately equipped, full-sized Ethernet port and a user-
laptops -- $3,000 equipped removable battery.
with 2GB of DDR-2/667
memory, Bluetooth, webcam, fingerprint reader, and a The Lenovo is also light enough to make briefcase-lug-
Verizon mobile broadband module with GPS. ging a pleasure: Our test unit tipped the scale at 3.4
pounds (an even 4 pounds with the AC adapter). You
When we configured a matching model on Lenovo's can add a few ounces by replacing the optical drive
Web site, it came to $3,400. The best discount we with a second battery pack for, Lenovo says, up to 10
found was from Datavision, offering the X300 for hours of battery life.
And, to return to the MacBook Air, the ThinkPad's
Part of the system's high tariff is that it features a 64GB $3,000 price may be daunting but is $98 less than
solid-state disk (SSD or flash-memory drive). That's Apple charges for its slimline with the same size solid-
much less storage capacity than most notebooks' con- state drive but no optical drive. And while both have
ventional hard disks, but it gives the Lenovo a fast start- 13.3-inch displays, the X300 offers higher resolution
up time (about 30 seconds) and extra reliability, espe- (1,440 x 900 pixels versus 1,200 x 800).

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A DVD Drive Hardly Thicker some practice to adjust to their location in the key-
board's top right corner.
Than a DVD
On the notebook's left side are two USB 2.0 ports and Lenovo also offers travelers a choice of IBM's famous
microphone and headphone jacks. At the rear are a original or today's most common mouse alternatives --
third USB port and Ethernet and VGA monitor ports. a textured TrackPoint micro-joystick stub embedded at
the intersection of G, H, and B, plus a touchpad in the
We were disappointed not to find a flash-memory card palm rest with vertical and horizontal scrolling zones
reader or an ExpressCard slot, though Lenovo would along its right and bottom edges.
likely say there's no urgent need for the latter since
what's under the hood already includes mobile broad- Both the TrackPoint and touchpad have their own left
band; a GPS chip; and support for WiMax, should and right mouse buttons below. We found that, when
Intel's chosen long-range wireless standard overcome using the X300 in our lap, the latter's mouse buttons
the apparently long odds against it ever being were often too close or pressed against our belly to
deployed. use, so we happily relied on the joystick's buttons just
above the touchpad.
One of the ThinkPad's most remarkable features is on
its right side -- a super-duper-slim, swappable Let's Go Green
DVD±RW burner. The dual-layer Matsushita drive is just
7mm (a quarter of an inch) thick; we found ourselves Lenovo boasts that the X300 is the most environmen-
wishing it would pull out just a fraction further but it tally friendly ThinkPad to date, consuming 25 percent
proved easy enough to slip a disc into the tray inside- less energy than older X Series models and meeting
edge first. both Energy Star 4.0 and EPEAT Gold standards for low
power consumption and minimal impact on Mother
The latest thing in skinny screens is LED backlighting, Earth. Along with the LED backlit display and no-mov-
which helps make the X300's 13.3-inch display crisp ing-parts SSD, one of the key contributors to this status
and vivid for black text and color images alike. On the is Intel's Core 2 Duo SL7100, a 1.2GHz processor with
other hand, to be frank, the 1,440 x 900-pixel panel an 800MHz front-side bus, 4MB of Level 2 cache, and a
didn't seem super-bright or show whiter whites under thrifty TDP (thermal design power) of 12 watts.
office fluorescent lighting, unless we left the backlight
on its highest setting. The CPU specs should clue you in that nobody's going
to use the X300 for hardcore gaming or video encod-
Working at home, with just one or two lamps at oppo- ing, but the notebook's performance is perfectly fine
site sides of the living room, made things look better. for office applications. It scored 3,305 on PCMark05
Under such less-than-sunny conditions, or on a dark- (CPU 3,279; memory 3,262; graphics 1,042; hard drive -
ened airplane beside a snoring seatmate, you can press - wildly skewed by solid-state -- 15,787), and rendered
a Fn-key combination to activate the cutest little night Cinebench 10's test scene in six and a quarter minutes.
light you ever saw, tucked into the top bezel beside the
1.3-megapixel webcam and shining down on the key- Intel's GMA X3100 integrated graphics handled our
board. benchmarks about as well as you'd expect, managing
70 frames per second in our nostalgic Quake III Arena
The keyboard lives up to the high standard of other test and 10 fps in the more demanding AquaMark3; its
ThinkPads, stretching back well before 2005 when 3DMark06 score at native 1,440 x 900 resolution with
Lenovo acquired the matte-black brand from IBM. It's no antialiasing or other eye candy was 362.
virtually full-sized (spanning 8 inches from A through
apostrophe, just like our desktop keyboard) and deliv- A View Without Vista
ers a smooth, yielding-just-enough typing feel. There Lenovo's array of models with just slightly different ID
are dedicated Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys codes (6478-1VU versus -1TU, for instance) can make it
instead of shifted cursor arrows, as well, though it takes hard to spot the exact configuration you'd like, but we

15 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
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must confess that one thing we liked about our test different networks and logons), hardware configuration,
unit was that it came with the simpler, quicker Windows and security options presented so as not to frighten
XP Professional instead of Windows Vista. even the technophobiest.

A page on Lenovo's Web site (under the banner head- Finally, the X300's light weight doesn't indicate a
line "It's hard to say goodbye") says that systems with wimpy battery pack as with some slimlines. The sup-
XP preloaded were available for purchase only through plied six-cell battery lasted a good four hours during a
May 20, 2008, but that customers will be able to buy a multimedia-heavy DVD-viewing and music-playing ses-
downgrade DVD that wipes out the newer and installs sion, while a less demanding word processing
the older operating system. One of the company's tech marathon stretched to five hours.
support pages adds that the downgrade kit will be
available (though "fees may vary") until January 31, So what do we mean by best notebook ever? Simply
2009. the best-engineered, most desirable, thin-and-light-
without-compromises laptop we've seen in many long
The rest of our ThinkPad's preinstalled software ranged years of testing, reviewing, and not infrequently buying.
from the predictable (trial versions of Norton Internet Out of all the PCs that have occupied the Labs,
Security and Microsoft Office) to the Picasa2 image Weather, & Sports Desk, the ThinkPad X300 is the one
organizer, Diskeeper Lite defragment utility, InterVideo we most hate to send away.
WinDVD, and an impressive stack of utilities and con-
trol settings arrayed under the ThinkVantage label. Ah, well. If you love something set it free. I

A pop-up ThinkVantage Productivity Center offers
maintenance, wireless (including location profiles for

16 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
[ Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers ]

HP 2133 Mini-Note: Eee-clipse?

By Eric Grevstad
glossy 8.9-inch display with 1,280 x 768 resolution and

alk to HP executives, and they'll tell you that the HP
2133 Mini-Note PC targets the educational market. a scratch-resistant coating.
Ask about its place in the mainstream laptop segment,
and they'll tie you to a chair and tell you it's meant for Asus' second-generation Eee has a larger screen, too,
instructional use. Comment on its VIA processor or choice of but won't come close to what HP boasts is a 92-per-
operating systems, and they'll wrestle you to the ground and cent-full-sized keyboard: The A through apostrophe
tell you it's designed with K-12 classrooms in mind. keys on the 2133's home row span a bit over seven
and a half inches, versus our desktop's eight inches and
They're not fooling anybody. the Eee's six and a half.

While it does compete with The Mini-Note's Ctrl and
Intel's Classmate PC (and, to Delete keys are in their prop-
a much lesser extent, the er bottom left and top right
$200 One Laptop Per Child corners, respectively, instead
notebook), the 2133 is unmis- of being relocated on some
takably HP’s response to the designer's whim. And while
two-pound, $400 Asus Eee the Insert, Delete, and func-
that's been winning over busi- tion keys and the cursor
ness travelers -- and putting arrows are half-sized, the
“Sold Out" signs in retail alphanumeric keys seem as
stores -- since its debut. big as floor tiles at first
glance, as well as styled to
Like the Eee, the HP handles match the 2133's aluminum
daily productivity tasks such case.
as spreadsheeting, e-mailing, and Wi-Fi Web browsing
instead of trying to be a multimedia or gaming And Four To Go
machine; it relies on a humble, single-core CPU and
At rollout HP offered the system in four configurations,
lacks a built-in optical drive; and it's priced far below
with custom tailoring presumably available at the
the thinnest and lightest notebooks from the likes of Web site.
Sony, Lenovo, Toshiba, Dell, or Apple. The base model
is $499, with our loaded, top-of-the-line test unit slated
The $499 model is the most Eee-like: It runs Novell
to cost $749.
Suse Linux instead of Windows and has a 4GB solid-
state drive instead of a hard disk. Its modest 512MB of
If that's a couple of hundred bucks above the various
memory and 1.0GHz VIA C7-M processor ensure its
Eee models, it's because the Mini-Note gives you more
entry-level status, although budget buyers enjoy the
PC, beginning with a considerably more stylish and
same spacious keyboard and screen as their deeper-
solid-feeling aluminum instead of plastic case. It sur-
pocketed peers.
passes the Eee's 7-inch, 800 x 640-pixel screen with a

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Next up are a pair of twins -- two Mini-Notes with a right luxurious for a subnotebook -- its practically full-
1.2GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 120GB (5,400-rpm) sized span makes up for a good-but-not-great (slightly
hard drive, as well as the 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and three- flat and soft) typing feel. The touchpad is wider than
cell lithium-ion battery pack seen in the $499 config. you'd expect, too, with large, rubbery mouse buttons
The difference is that the $549 model comes with Suse on either side. Except for a finger repeatedly straying
Linux, the $599 unit with Vista Home Basic. into the vertical scrolling zone at the right of the pad, it
worked fine.
For $749, the fourth and fanciest version offers a swifter
1.6GHz version of the VIA processor; Bluetooth as well Take a Long Look
as Wi-Fi; the system maximum 2GB of DDR-2 memory;
Windows Vista Business; and a larger six-cell battery Your first sight of the 2133's screen will be a dim one --
pack that, instead of fitting flush, props the HP's rear an every time the system restarts or awakes from hiberna-
inch or so off your desk to form a fair typing angle. tion, it's turned the backlight brightness off rather than
retain the level you set earlier for the sake of babying
Our preproduction version had a 160GB Hitachi hard the battery. And we were happy with the LCD's bright-
disk (and an "HP Compaq 2133" label instead of the ness only at the highest or second highest of the set-
correct, Compaq-free moniker), but company spec tings available.
sheets list the $749 Mini-Note as having the same
120GB hard drive as the middle two models. Options Once it's brightened up, however, the display is clear
will include a 160GB, 5,400-rpm drive and faster 7,200- and colorful, if a bit prone to doubling as a makeup
rpm drives in the same sizes (120GB and 160GB). mirror. We're torn between cheering and complaining
about its impressively high 1,280 x 768-pixel resolution
With the 4GB flash drive installed, HP says, the 2133 -- images and fonts look ultra-sharp, but small pull-
tips the scales at 2.63 pounds. Since our system had a down-menu text (and the cursor, until we resized it) was
hard drive instead, it weighed in at 2.88 pounds with almost too tiny for our middle-aged eyes. Yes, we wear
the smaller or 3.25 pounds with the larger battery pack. bifocals, but we'd never found ourselves sliding them
up and down our nose and bobbing our head like a sit-
That's heavier than the 2.06-pound Eee, but not com geezer before.
enough to notice the difference when lifting your brief-
case; the Mini-Note is as much a pleasure to travel with Speaking of the battery, the 6-cell, 55-watt-hour battery
as are far more costly featherweights like Lenovo's is an option that should be standard. The flush-fitting 3-
ThinkPad X300. At about 6.5 x 10.3 x 1 inches, the HP cell, 28-watt-hour pack averaged just an hour and a half
is almost as easy to fit into that briefcase as the Eee, in our real-world work sessions, while the protruding
though its AC adapter is bulkier and heavier (14 battery/keyboard prop lasted for a solid three hours,
ounces). stretching to three and a quarter in non-heavy-duty
word processing and Web surfing sessions.
Power and wireless on/off switches are handily located
on the laptop's front edge. On the left side are head- Of course, we always wish for longer battery life, but
phone and microphone jacks, a VGA monitor connec- that isn't our greatest wish for the Mini-Note. Our
tor, and a powered USB 2.0 port for an external storage greatest wish would be more horsepower under the
device. hood.

A second USB port is on the right, as is an Ethernet To be sure, the 2133 doesn't pretend to be a high-end
connector (what's that you say, Apple MacBook Air gaming or video-editing platform, and it feels ade-
owners? You don't have these things?). You'll also find a quately responsive while you're typing documents or
slot for an SD flash-memory card and an putting together presentations -- the 2GB of system
ExpressCard/54 slot -- suitable for the 3G broadband memory sufficient to bear the ponderous weight of
wireless adapter the HP definitely needs. Windows Vista, although we're dismayed that the HP
can't be upgraded above 2GB.
As we've already noted, the Mini's keyboard is down-

18 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
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But our test system took a lazy two minutes to boot up Mini-Note with VIA's faster "Isaiah" replacement for the
in the morning, with even its audio stuttering or skip- current C7-M "Esther" CPU, or -- even more likely --
ping a note in Vista's startup tune, and barely limped with one of Intel's elegant new Atom (nee
through a small subset of our usual benchmark tests. "Silverthorne") ultraportable processors. But that would
Given the oldest and easiest game in our toybox, have missed school districts' budgeting and buying for
Quake III Arena at 1,024 x 768 resolution, the Mini this September.
managed 26 frames per second. PCMark05 refused to
issue an overall score, but the HP's processor and Size, Price, and Style
memory subtotals of 908 and 1,408 trail even the
Samsung Q1 Ultra UMPC with 800MHz Intel A110 So should you buy an HP Mini now, or wait for a proba-
processor that we tested last summer. bly improved version? That depends. The Eee still has
its picture in the dictionary under cute, but the 2133
The 1.6GHz C7-M and Chrome9 chipset graphics car- should be listed under style or glamour. You won't see
ried the subnotebook to a ground-floor 3DMark05 a more chic handheld this year.
score of 175, while Cinebench 10's scene-rendering
test -- handled in one to two minutes by even the Against that, when Asus unveiled the Eee at $400, the
entry-level laptops we've sampled lately -- took 36 min- conventional notebooks available at that price were
utes. easy to shun -- or to rationalize, "Yes, I know I could
have more screen, keyboard, speed, and storage, but
Just for kicks, we compared the 2133's numbers to I'll trade that for the convenience and portability of the
those of the revved-up, quad-core Gateway gaming Eee." Today, the fully loaded HP faces some pretty
tower we reviewed a couple of weeks ago. PC Wizard darn nice conventional notebooks available at $750.
2008's global performance score showed that the feisty
underdog was, well, more than one percent as power- But show us a configuration with a faster CPU,
ful as the Gateway. Windows XP instead of Vista, broadband wireless, and
even a smaller (80GB?) hard disk if necessary to stay
The bottom line? Seems those HP execs weren't entire- under $600, and we are so there. I
ly kidding about selling to the educational market:
They could have waited until summer or fall to ship a

19 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
[ Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers ]

HP EliteBook 6930p: Keep Your
Data and Hardware Secure

By Jamie Bsales

heads from impacting the drive surface, avoiding

or mobile pros, skimping on a laptop purchase could
certainly prove penny wise and pound-foolish. Budget potential data loss.
notebook PCs are fine if you only occasionally tote the
machine in a padded bag, but they lack the durable con- Add in a spill-resistant keyboard that can help the
struction and security features offered by a higher-end machine withstand a few ounces of errant liquid, and
model aimed at road warriors. That could spell disaster if you have a machine that is as tough as it is handsome.
your machine takes a hit — or takes a walk — when you’re In fact, HP notes that the EliteBook 6930p meets
traveling. Military Standard 810F for drops from 30 inches,
vibration, dust, high and low tem-
So if you spend most of the time out of the perature and humidity.
office, you need a notebook like the HP
EliteBook 6930p. This business-rugged Peace of Mind
machine has features to keep its components
The EliteBook 6930p also has the
safe from knocks, as well as hardware and
latest security features to keep your
software security measures to keep your data
data safe. You can set the machine
so that it requires a password, a
swipe of your fingerprint, or both
Sleek, Handsome before it will boot or resume to
Design Windows. You can also use the
included Privacy Manager utility to
The first thing you’ll notice about the
automatically encrypt e-mail and instant
EliteBook 6930p is its anodized aluminum skin.
The brushed metal looks tasteful, gives the 4.7-pound
machine a solid feel, and it conveys a professional, pol-
HP has also included its File Sanitizer applet to let you
ished air to clients. Vanity aside, the aluminum cladding
be sure that deleted files are truly and completely
also protects the notebook’s 14.1-inch screen better
deleted. When you delete a file in Windows, its name
than the typical plastic lid. The aqua LEDs used spar-
is removed from the hard drive directory and its space
ingly around the unit add to the machine’s modern feel.
is made available for new files. But until a new file is
actually written in that space—and with today’s large
For added strength, HP employs lightweight magne-
hard drives, that could be a while — the deleted file
sium alloy for the chassis, which makes the notebook
continues to reside on the hard drive and can be recov-
less prone to bending and thus better protects interior
ered. File Sanitizer overwrites a deleted file up to seven
components. The hard drive's accelerometer senses if
times with random data, permanently expunging the
the machine falls or bounces (as during turbulence on a
flight) and parks the hard drive heads. This keeps the

20 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
[ Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers ]
Helpful Software ing applications. HP’s easy-to-use utility lets you set the
camera’s resolution to eight different levels ranging
Beyond the security utilities, HP has included other from 160 x 120 (good for grabbing a tiny snapshot of
thoughtful software that makes your life a little easier, yourself to append to your e-mail signature line) all the
especially if you don’t have a dedicated IT department. way up to 1600 x 1200 (for taking a photo as good as a
Press the “i” icon above the keyboard to launch the HP 2-megapixel camera might). At the default 640 x 480
Info Center. Here you’ll find links to a host of useful resolution, the camera showed good color accuracy,
applets, including the though lots of motion resulted in lots of blur. Icons at
the bottom of the utility let you take a still picture, cap-
• HP Connection Manager and HP Wireless Assistant ture video or capture audio only.
for easily setting up network connections
• HP ProtectTools Security Manager to help you set
backup and recovery options, fingerprint authentica-
Choose Your Hardware
tion, data encryption, passwords and more The EliteBook 6930p has all the requisite ports and
• Presto BizCard electronic Rolodex connectors, including three USB ports, a memory card
reader, a FireWire connector, LAN and modem jacks
Another button above the keyboard launches the and an ExpressCard/54 slot. It includes 802.11a/b/g/n
Presentation Settings utility to help you quickly set the Wi-Fi, and the platform supports the addition of an
machine for use with a projector or other external dis- integrated wireless broadband module to let you con-
play. In addition to the components that come with the nect to the leading high-speed 3G cellular data net-
computer’s Windows Vista Business operating system works.
(you can also opt for Windows XP), HP includes
Starting at $1,199, the base configuration includes an
• Roxio Creator Business for creating CDs and DVDs Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor (running at 2.26-
• InterVideo WinDVD for plying DVDs GHz), 2GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, Mobile Intel
• PDF Complete for creating documents in that for- GMA 4500MHD graphics chip and a multi-format DVD
mat burner. Those components have more than enough
power to run even demanding business applications
A Pleasure to Use without breaking a sweat. If you need even more
speed, the top EliteBook 6930p configuration comes
In our hands-on evaluation, the EliteBook 6930p with a 2.4GHz processor and dedicated ATI Mobility
proved a pleasure to use. Its full-size keyboard has a Radeon HD 3450 graphics.
crisp feel ideal for long bouts of typing, and HP has
included both a pointing stick nestled in the keyboard HP backs the EliteBook 6930p with a generous three-
and a touchpad below. Because of the two sets of year warranty on parts and labor and toll-free 24/7 tech
mouse buttons, the touchpad is a tad smaller than support. That alone goes a long way to making the few
usual on a machine this size, but it’s still usable. Above hundred extra dollars you’ll spend on an EliteBook
the keyboard you’ll find a touch-sensitive strip for con- worth it compared to a budget laptop. Figure in the
trolling the volume for the notebook's stereo speakers. powerful components, extra security and durability fea-
tures plus the great looks, and the machine begs to be
The EliteBook 6930p uses a 14.1-inch widescreen LCD, on your short list. I
and the high-resolution (1440 x 900 pixels) panel is
bright and exceedingly crisp. You can even read tiny
on-screen text, although the high resolution means
default text sizes on some Web sites and in Windows’
menus (like the All Programs list) can be pretty small.
The LCD delivered vibrant colors in Windows apps, as
well as good motion reproduction for video.

Above the screen you’ll find an integrated Webcam,
ideal for video chat, video e-mail and videoconferenc-

21 Holiday Guide to Laptop Computers, An Personal Technology eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.