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Wednesday June 1, 2005 4:04 am

A Notebook Fit For A Business Owner

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Business Tools,

It’s time for me to go shopping for a new notebook PC, with all the light business notebooks to choose from, I some free time over several days comparing some of the better options out there. Full story after the jump.

Currently I’m using an eMachines 15” widescreen lead brick with a desktop 64 bit Athalon processor that you can cook your breakfast on the bottom of. It’s a fast machine, it even plays the occasional 3D game quite well and I picked it up for a great price. Now that I’m traveling more and more, I need something that’s not only small enough to be used while sitting in your typical, cramped airline torture chair but has enough battery power to let me get some work done and maybe catch a short movie. While there is a decent selection of notebooks in the light business category, most have XGA resolution screens which I think are no good unless you plan to be doing mostly email and web surfing, or like to scroll and toggle windows all the time. Being a web developer, I need a screen that has at least a 1280x800 resolution and is easy on the eyes for those 10-12 work days. I was skeptical of those glossy screens that go by various names like XBrite and Clear Advanced Super View due to all the glare they pick up, after all, don’t they make anti-glare screens for a reason? Most of the notebooks I looked at with this type of screen were just too glossy and the reflections they picked up were annoying.

I looked at the Fujitsu S7000 which is an excellent travel notebook. Aside from a glossy XGA screen, there was only a non-glossy SXGA+ screen available which in my opinion me made things a bit too small on a 14” screen. I also looked at the Asus W3V which aside from a so-so screen and some reported heat issues is also a nice option. Then, a friend of mine got a Sony S270 with an XBrite screen, I finally got a chance to see one of these glossy screens in real work situations.

Off the bat the S270 is a great pick for a business notebook. It’s around 1” thin, 4.2 lbs, has 95% of a full sized keyboard, plenty of horsepower and battery life stated 6.5 hours (although real world testing showed more like 3 hrs). The screen has an ample 1280x800 resolution screen and the Radeon 9700 graphics card is good enough for playing most 3D games when taking a break from the daily grind. After trying the S270 in several situations and lighting conditions, I was more or less sold on both the S270 and the glossy screen. The screen glare wasn’t as big of an issue as I thought and I could usually get rid of it by adjusting the screen or the position of the laptop. It ran cool and quite and compared to my current 8.5 lb brick it was easy to carry it around for an extended period.

I decided to go buy one but found that Sony no longer sold the S270 and instead was offering the newer S480. Before I dove in to get one of the “new and improved? models, I decided to do some research and I was glad I did. Turns out the S480 has the new Intel Centrino chipset knows as Sonoma which in addition to supporting faster CPUs and memory, has the added feature of cutting battery life in half and increasing heat output considerably. After reading that the performance increase of the new chipset was negligible, I opted to find the older S270 and got a nice deal on PCNation.com which saved me almost $500 over ordering from Sony. I ended up ordering one without the XBrite screen by mistake and got a notebook with what has to be one of the worst looking screen I’ve ever seen. The colors were badly washed out and the viewing angles were horrible so back it went, go with the XBrite! The correct model is on its way thanks to PCNation.com’s great support. I’ll post a review in the forums after I’ve had a chance to really put it through the paces.

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