Wi-Fi Notebook Review Roundup

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In this article we take a look at a few Wi-Fi ready notebooks and determine which ones provide the best solution for a truly mobile and wireless experience.  Notebooks included in this overview are:

When looking for a Wi-Fi notebook that provides a truly mobile experience we recommend looking for a notebook with low weight and long battery life.  After all, if you have wireless internet and you want to be free of wires, the assumption is you’ll want to be carrying around your notebook to different locations — so the lighter it is and the more battery life it provides the more mobile you will truly be.

Apple Powerbook G4 (17 inch monitor)

Product: Apple PowerBook G4 (17-inch)
Wireless solution: 802.11g
Specs: 6.8 lbs. system weight; DVD playback: 2:24
Price: $3,299 list
Company Info: 800-692-7753, www.apple.com

The Apple Powerbook G4 was one of the first notebooks to move to the 802.11g wireless standard. During testing this notebooks signal reached up to 140 feet, and its DVD playback lasted 2:24 which is enough for most movies. This system isn’t really meant to be carted around daily. As a desktop replacement, it’s a great system

Dell X300

Product: Dell Latitude X300
Wireless solution: 802.11g
Specs: 3 lbs. system weight; BatteryMark: 2:22
Price: $1,985 direct
Company Info: 800-388-8542, www.dell.com


The Dell Latitude X300 is a very good choice for those who want top performance with premium portability. The wireless performance holds strong out to 160 feet, and its battery performance is decent.


   
eMachines M5310


Product: eMachines M5310
Wireless solution: 802.11g
Specs: 6.6 lbs. system weight; BatteryMark: 2:19
Price: $1,199 list
Company Info: 714-481-2828, www.emachines.com


A little smaller than the Apple PowerBook G4 (17-inch), the eMachines M5310, with its 15-inch-wide screen, is still a bulky notebook that will not travel often far from the office or home. The M5310’s wireless performance is a bit weaker than that of other 802.11g enabled notebooks but still satisfactory. The power drain from its wide-screen display led to less than 3 hours of battery life.

Fujitsu LifeBook S2000


Product: Fujitsu LifeBook S2000
Wireless solution: 802.11g
Specs: 4.3 lbs. system weight; BatteryMark: 3:17
Price: $1,990 street
Company Info: 877-372-3743, www.fujitsupc.com


This 4-pounder has a built-in optical drive a rare find in the ultraportable category. Wireless performance was excellent, especially its throughput at 120 feet. Add to that a 3-hour-plus battery life and this is a top choice for any executive who travels frequently.

Gateway 450X


Product: Gateway 450X
Wireless solution: 802.11g
Specs: 6.1 lbs. system weight; BatteryMark: 4:18
Price: $1,620 list
Company Info: 800-221-9616, www.gateway.com


The thin and light Gateway 450X’s wireless throughput performance is solid, holding an especially strong signal at 120 feet in “g” mode. This is a recent award winning notebook (Editors Choice by PCMag.com) and is an outstanding choice for the business executive or college student on a campus with good wireless coverage.

HP Pavilion zd7000


Product: HP Pavilion zd7000
Wireless solution: 802.11g
Specs: 9.2 lbs. system weight; BatteryMark: 2:17
Price: $2,399 direct
Company Info: 800-752-0900, www.hp.com


Like the Apple and eMachines notebooks, the HP Pavilion zd7000 will probably never commute farther than from the bedroom to the den. Its wireless performance is very solid at the 120-foot and 160-foot range, which makes it better if there’s only one access point shared in a small-office or home environment. Note that this is a preproduction unit; look for an updated review of this model in our issue of November 25, 2003.
 

HP Compaq Presario X1000


Product: HP Compaq Presario X1000
Wireless solution: 802.11b (Centrino)
Specs: 6.5 lbs. system weight; BatteryMark: 3:39
Price: $1,599 direct
Company Info: 800-752-0900, www.hp.com


The HP Compaq Presario X1000 is an very nice system, but you may want to wait for the upgrade. Since it’s 802.11b only, its wireless performance is sub par compared to other notebooks. And though its battery life is decent at 3:39, its 6.5-pound system weight will prove to heavy for some.

HP Pavilion ze5300


Product: HP Pavilion ze5300
Wireless solution: 802.11b
Specs: 8.1 lbs. system weight; Battery Mark: 1: 50
Price: $1,749 direct
Company Info: 800-752-0900, www.hp.com


The HP Pavilion ze5300 is an 8.1-pound beast that is meant to stay plugged in and on your desk, do not try lugging this around to Starbucks! Its battery performance was less than 2 hours, probably due to its desktop processor, and its wireless signal was unimpressive.
 
Toshiba Satellite Pro M15-S405


Product: Toshiba Satellite Pro M15-S405
Wireless solution: 802.11b (Centrino)
Specs: 6.7 lbs. system weight; BatteryMark: 5:29
Price: $1,849 list
Company Info: 800-867-4422, www.csd.toshiba.com


The Toshiba Satellite Pro M15-S405 offers a good blend of power and performance. It posts an unheard of 5:29 battery life, so you don’t need to carry an adapter around, which is good since the notebook weighs in at 6.7 pounds. Its throughput held up quite strongly up to 160 feet, despite its “b”-only wireless solution.
 

IBM ThinkPad R40


Product: IBM ThinkPad R40
Wireless solution: 802.11a/b
Specs: 6.4lbs. system weight; BatteryMark: 5:28
Price: $2,249 direct
Company Info: 888-740-7426, www.IBM.com


The R40 delivers high quality and sturdy design, and its 5:48 battery life is one of the best we’ve seen. It is also one of the few notebooks to incorporate an “a/b” wireless solution, so no matter what network you’re near, you’ve got wireless covered.
 

 

 


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