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New notebooks offer portability, speed, and e-business features

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Portability and performance are still big issues for most busy professionals when choosing a notebook computer. Other considerations are service and reliability. During your business travels, you don’t want to get stuck with a notebook that constantly suffers from mechanical failures and requires a lot of repair.

Dell and IBM rank among the best, pound for pound-in the overall product category-offering notebooks for both home and office use. If you are in the market for a new notebook that can match the average desktop computer in performance, then you will want to check out the following models:

IBM’s ThinkPad 600X is one of Big Blue’s most portable, powerful models yet. The sleek black box measures just 1.5 inches thick and weighs 6.2 pounds, including an AC adapter and CD-ROM drive, which can be swapped out for a floppy drive. The unit ships with a 12 GB hard drive and 128 MB of RAM. Other features include a 13.3-inch display and 4 hours five minutes of battery life. The list price is $4,400 (800-426-7255).

IBM’s ThinkPad T series is also ideal for balance, performance, and portability. The thin, light notebook-weighing in at five pounds-has a cover that is strengthened by Titanium composite. It provides one click access to the Internet and wireless support and features a new Ultra port connector. It retails for $2,400.

Hewlett-Packard’s Pavilion N3290 has added some notable office assistant features. Pre-installed online e-center suite of services include an e-copy center that lets you print and bind important documents and presentations and deliver them anywhere in the U.S. You can use e-fax to receive and send faxes directly from your e-mail, and e-backup to automatically back up critical files via a Web browser.

Weighing less than seven pounds, the Pavilion includes a Pentium III 500 MHz processor, 64 MB SDRAM, 6 GB of hard-drive space, a 14.1-inch TFT XGA display and a 6x DVD multimedia drive that you won’t have to swap with the floppy drive. The retail price is $2,199 (800-613-2222).

Dell’s Inspiron 5000 simultaneously holds a zip drive, second hard drive, CD-ROM drive, DVD, and a second battery. In addition to the 18 GB hard drive, the BayManager software allows for peripheral hot-swapping.

What further sets this notebook apart from others is its 15-inch screen and full-size 87-key keyboard. It has the 650 MHz Pentium III processor and 128 MB of RAM. The Inspiron retails for $3,915 (800-388-8542). At 8.9 pounds including the AC adapter, the Inspiron is a little heavier than other systems. But it makes for one of the best desktop computer replacements for anyone on the go.