Q: What do laptops and toothpaste have in common — besides being two things you never want to leave behind? A: An almost infinite array of consumer-befuddling choices. And new, innovative laptops come rolling out every month. Amid the flood of new offerings, three notable notebooks recently caught our eye.
SHARP PC-UM20 $1,699
PROS: Sharp usually makes gorgeous products, and this handsome unit is no exception. The magnesium-and-
aluminum chassis houses a durable but lightweight
machine that’s just over a half-inch thick and weighs 2.9 pounds. The wide, solid keyboard pops up when lid is raised.
CONS: To use the optional CD drive and floppy disc drives at the same time, you’ll need the optional port bar, meaning lots of external cables.
BOTTOM LINE: For basic business use, the PC-UM20 is a jewel. If you’re a heavy peripheral user, proceed with caution.
MORE INFO:www.sharpsystems.com
GATEWAY 600XL, $2,599
PROS: If you like your eyes, you’ll love this whopper screen meas-uring 15.7 inches diagonally, the largest available on a laptop. Also features a combo DVD-ROM CD/RW drive.
CONS: Extra features mean extra weight. At 9.7 pounds including the adapter, you can pump up your forearms with this lunker.
BOTTOM LINE: With 256MB of RAM, a 40-gig hard drive, and Intel’s mobile Pentium 4-M processor, this road hog handles all your multimedia needs.
MORE INFO:www.gateway.com
DELL INSPIRON 4100, $1,782
PROS:The main draw here is speed, speed, speed thanks to the 1.2GHz Mobile Pentium III processor. We also like the superb resolution on the 14-inch UXGA screen.
CONS: Only one USB port and no Firewire port.
BOTTOM LINE: The 4100’s form factor is organization-man dull, but you’ll forget that when you’re blazing along on the best-of-class keyboard.
MORE INFO:www.dell.com