Who Needs A Desktop PC?

Powerful and versatile laptops can replace the average workstation

Thinking about buying a new computer, but can’t decide whether to buy a laptop or a desktop? For many who would like to make a laptop their primary PC, the main sticking point has been the laptop’s notorious lack of power. Until recently, laptops powered by Intel chips hit the wall at a top speed of 150MHz, while high-end desktop PCs continue to push the envelope, achieving speeds of 300MHz. Now, laptops are available at up to 233MHz with enough power and performance to suit the most demanding road warrior. We put a couple through the paces to let you know what to expect from these workhorses in show pony guise.

MICRON TRANSPORT XKE
Micron’s new TransPort XKE offers excellent performance, continuing in the tradition of the company’s first notebook offering last year. However you slice it, the XKE is a heavyweight. It’s 9.1-lb., $5,149-unit has the design, performance and construction to put it in a class by itself. Micron didn’t skimp on the components for this machine. Powered by a 166MHz mobile Intel Pentium with MMX, the XKE also boasts a 128-bit graphics accelerator with a standard 56k integrated modem.

The unit has a 13.3-inch XGA TFT display, which rivals many desktop monitors, and both a pointing stick and a touch pad for the undecided. Users can switch between the devices by pressing a function key. Zoomed Video and CardBus support, S-Video and NTSC video capabilities and front-and-back IrDA make the XKE a good choice for presentations. The floppy disk and CD-ROM drives are swappable, but you may want to leave the CD-ROM drive in because of its full multimedia controls. Besides, there’s more than enough storage space in the unit’s 2.9GB hard drive. While the unit we tested had a built-in 33.6-Kbps modem, 56.6-Kbps modems are now standard. Micron’s XKE is worth its price and its excellent performance is worth the weight.

TransPort XKE, Micron Electronics Inc., Nampa, ID, 888-634-8799; www.micronpc.com. . SHARP PC-9800T
Sharp Electronics Sharp PC-9800T is a more affordable unit featuring a 12.1-inch TFT display and a Pentium/166 MMX CPU. Fully multimedia capable, the PC-9800T has two swappable bays that can accommodate any combination of a hard drive, floppy drive, CD-ROM or second battery (which doubles as an AC adapter). Like the Micron XKE, the PC 9800 T includes both a USB port and CardBus support. In fact, the two notebooks feature many of the same components, including a PC card that holds two type II (or one type III) PCMCIA cards.
A 33.6-Kbps modem comes standard on this 7.5-lb. laptop. The system’s XGA display has a resolution of 1,024 x 768 dpi and features Sharp’s Super High Aperture technology, which the company claims increases screen brightness while offering longer battery life than standard TFT screens permit. The system’s video-out port supports both NTSC and PAL. Performance, however, is not this unit’s strong suit. It ran noticeably slower than the Micron XKE but, at $1,200 less than the Micron, a drop in speed is understandable. The unit has a three-year warranty

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