- Questions to ask yourself
- Desktop PC or notebook?
- How important is mobility?
- What will I be using the notebook for?
- How much do I need to spend?
- Specialised portable computers?
- Ultraportable notebooks
- Tablet PCs
- Palm/hand top computers
- Ruggedised portables
- Processor and chipset
- Intel versus AMD
- Intel notebook processors
- AMD mobile processors
- Other key components
- Questions to ask the retailer
Specialised portable computers
In addition to the common lightweight to desktop replacement notebook models we've already covered, there are a few other interesting shapes and sizes of portable computers plus specialised features on offer.
You may also come across a category of notebook called ultraportable notebooks. Around the 1.5kg-and-less mark, they come with a screen of small-to-medium size, and generally great performance. However, the price tag isn't always as lightweight. With ultraportable notebooks, most things (such as an external DVD writer) that aren't absolutely essential to the machine's operation can usually be detached and left at home or in the office, giving you the choice between functionality and portability.
Of course, some ultraportable notebooks are created more portable than others. Consider whether you want to sacrifice an extra 300g or 400g in favour of a larger screen or more ports and connectors. Also, check that you aren't giving up too much in exchange for portability, as the smaller keys on some ultraportable notebooks can make them difficult to use. Toshiba's Portege R500 and ASUS U1F machines are perfect examples, as are Sony's T-series VAIO machines and Fujitsu's Q2010.
Tablet PCs are just like a normal notebook but with a twist. There are two types of tablet PCs: the first are convertible models that can also function just like a normal (or "clamshell") notebook, complete with keyboard and cursor control pads/sticks. Alternatively, there are also dedicated tablet devices.
Both types of tablet PCs feature touch screens (designed for use with a bundled stylus) that can be rotated between portrait and landscape views. Tablet PCs use the Tablet PC edition of Windows XP or Windows Vista that have been specially tweaked to include handwriting and speech recognition features.
Tablet PCs have a roughly $300-$500 premium over a similarly specified standard notebook and as such is still a very niche product suited best to certain areas of business and design.
Most of the big name vendors such as HP/Compaq, Fujitsu and Toshiba in addition to some lesser known-brands offer tablet PC models.
There are also wireless "tablet" displays that include a built-in processor, but they're not a computer! They need to connect to a PC or the Internet over Wi-Fi to browse content.