At 6.2 pounds, sporting a spacious 15.4-inch screen, this is a surprisingly well-equipped unit for the price. The widescreen 16:9 format makes watching DVDs a real pleasure. The generous keyboard features a dozen customizable Hotkeys. And Microsoft's OneNote software is on board for easily capturing short notes. The graphics muscle won't handle today's most complex 3-D games, but you're good to go on anything short of that. One tip: If you're planning long road trips, opt for the 12-cell battery.



HP Pavilion zv5000z
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$850-$2,500, www.shopping.hp.com
No, that price isn't a misprint. The zv5000z has more options than a 1999 dot-com exec, so you can say "stop" at many different places on the price spectrum, depending on hard drive (up to 80GB), memory (up to 2GB), and media drives (24x CD-ROM, 4X DVD+RW/R, and more).

This workhorse is hefty - 8.7 pounds without the AC adapter; 10.3 with - all the better to prove multimedia has gone mobile in a big way. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the healthy sound quality of the Harmon Kardon speakers; there's also a six-way flash memory card reader and WinDVD Creator for making movies. AMD's Athlon 64 processor, the cause of much techie buzz over the past few months, guarantees that whatever you do, you'll do it fast.



Dell Inspiron 9100
$1,300-$2,800, www.dell.com
The 9100 is a big boy, yes, but that's because it's two computers in one 8.9-pound, desktop-replacement body. You get a reliable machine for standard business tasks, but you'll probably spend more time exploring this unit's amazing multimedia capabilities - gaming, photography, music, and movies.