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A Buyer's Guide To Ultramobile PCs

Ultraportables used to sacrifice too much performance. They're beefing up on features--not weight.

Ultraportable laptops have been criticized for underperformance, lack of features, and short battery life. That's kept them a tiny niche of the PC market. Most businesspeople rely on smartphones for access to the Web and wireless e-mail on the go, and carry standard laptops when they need more computing power. Ultraportable laptops have been caught in the middle.

But 30% of 687 company PC buyers surveyed by Forrester Research expect to increase buying ultralight laptops in the next two years, while just 4% expect a decrease. Laptop makers have made significant improvements in newer models, with faster processors and more system memory, plus batteries that can, in some cases, keep a laptop running for up to 12 hours on a single charge. And they're packing in more features--especially ones focused on mobility.

Fujitsu Siemens Computers, for example, will bring to market in August a new line of ultraportable laptops, the Esprimo Mobile Series, with integrated 3G. With a 12.1-inch or 14.1-inch display, they'll have built-in Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, or UMTS, technology, a 3G standard that allows Internet connections of up to 2 Mbps. That kind of embedded technology is what businesses will increasingly want, as employees grow dissatisfied with spotty Wi-Fi access via public hotspots, according to Yankee Group.

So what are the options today for mobile pros who want to go ultraportable? Here's a buyer's guide to some of the top choices.

Fujitsu LifeBook P7230
Fujitsu LifeBook P7230
Fujitsu LifeBook P7230
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Price: Starting at $1,599
Fujitsu in February unveiled the LifeBook P7230 laptop, targeting mobile professionals who want elegance and functionality. It features a 1.17-inch frame and a 10.6-inch LED backlit display, and it comes with three operating system options: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Business, or Windows XP Professional.

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