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Introduction

I recently decided that my 7-or-so pound Dell Inspiron 4100 notebook was getting too heavy to lug around trade shows. Fortunately, even though notebooks still command a price premium over similarly-powered desktop machines, a notebook buyer's dollar goes much further today than it did even a year ago. And the deals that abounded during this past holiday buying season finally spurred me into action.

But how to choose? Anyone who has gone through the exercise of buying a notebook computer knows that it's a highly personal process. One person's "slim and light" is another's "big and heavy" (not that you'd find the latter used in a notebook marketing pitch...) and in the end, the machine that's right for you might not light someone else's fire.

Since my prospective mobile partner would not be my main machine and used only when I travel (or am testing wireless adapters), my key selection criteria boiled down to weight, battery life, and touchpad mouse control. And since I expected to replace my purchase within 2 years or so (technology marches on...), I didn't want to pay a lot to ease the strain on my back at shows. "A lot" in my case meant that I was looking to part with something in the neighborhood of around $1000, with the lower-rent part of the neighborhood being more desirable.

What follows is a mostly subjective, but partially objective look at the process I went through to decide on the machine that would be my next travel partner.

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