Apr 25, 2007

The Best Vista Notebooks

Right now could be a great time to splurge on a laptop, given that many come with Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system to sweeten the deal. But is the new OS reason enough to jump now, or should you hang on to your trusty Windows XP laptop for a while longer?
To find out, we rounded up 15 Vista-equipped laptops from Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Micro Express, and Toshiba, in two categories: desktop-replacement models powerful enough to serve as your Primary PC, and ultraportables weighing less than 5 pounds. We tested speed and battery life and carefully evaluated screens, keyboards, and other vital features.
We ranked the best five notebooks in each category and awarded Best Buys to the $2301 HP Pavilion dv9000t, a desktop replacement, and the $2150 Dell XPS M1210, an ultraportable. The jazzed-up dv9000t is a snazzy multimedia laptop with a 17-inch screen and designer exterior, while the M1210 is Dell at its best in a 4.9-pound package complete with a dedicated entertainment interface, smoking speed, and great battery life.
This roundup also marks the debut of WorldBench 6 Beta 2, the latest version of PC World's test suite for computers. Our PC World Test Center team refreshed the benchmark with Vista support and expanded tests that give multicore systems a workout. We also improved our battery test with a new automated script that rotates simulated typing with full-screen DVD-quality videos. (In view of its various updates, of course, WorldBench 6 Beta 2 scores are not comparable to previous WorldBench 5 results.) Visit PC World Test Center InfoCenter for more information.
So what can you expect from this first batch of Vista-enabled portables? Though graphically busy and a memory hog, Vista and its Aero 3D environment look great and run well on these suitably powerful laptops; most models in our roundup came with 2GB of memory. If you buy a Vista notebook now, however, you'll encounter more problems with hardware and software compatibility than you would have with an early Windows XP laptop; for example, some docking stations currently disable Aero. But most sources of incompatibility are identical to those you'd run into with a Vista desktop PC, and they should soon fade as vendors update their drivers and software applications

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