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Many users today rely on notebooks as their primary office computers because they want all their files with them when they travel or because they have limited desktop space. Using a notebook as a desktop replacement doesn't mean sacrificing power or convenience. Several models in this Buyer's Guide offer 650MHz Pentium III processors, 18GB of hard disk space, and large memory capacities. A convenient three-spindle notebook lets you simultaneously install both a disk and CD-ROM or DVD.

Most vendors offer a variety of optional modules such as second batteries, DVD drives, LS-120 drives, Zip drives, and second hard disks that you can install in the internal disk or CD-ROM drive bay. Some models offer two swappable bays so that you can install more options internally. But support for more internal options and the 15" displays available on a few models add size and weight to these notebooks. Most vendors also offer optional port replicators, which make connecting to and from monitors, printers, and other peripherals quick and easy. For those who need even more expansion space, many vendors also offer docking stations.

A mouse works well in the office, but if you travel, you need to pay close attention to the pointing device each model provides. Some models include a touch pad and a pointing stick; other models include just one or the other. All the notebooks in this Buyer's Guide feature large Thin Film Transistor (TFT) screens, but if you plan to use high resolutions and color depths on a large office CRT, look for models with graphics subsystems that support the modes you want at eye-pleasing refresh rates.

When you've narrowed down your choice of notebooks, take a look at each vendor's warranty offerings. Notebooks tend to break down more often and cost more to repair than desktops. One particular warranty concern that you need to be aware of relates to the TFT screen. Many screens have a few stuck pixels that stay lit or dark when they're not supposed to. How bothersome these flaws are to you depends on the number and position of the defective pixels. Most notebook vendors' policies base the decision whether to replace a panel under warranty on the number and placement of bad pixels on the screen. To protect yourself, ask prospective vendors in advance about their policy for replacing screens with bad pixels.

You'll want to consider the manageability features of notebooks you might purchase. And if you want to limit the number of disk images that your IT group needs, your choices might include only notebook brands that your company already uses. Consult with your current notebook supplier about whether you can share the disk images you use with other models.

Windows 2000 Desktop Replacement Notebooks Buyer's Guide