Ultraportable notebooks have become more popular, a direct result of the Pentium-M mobile processor and Centrino technology. As we mentioned before, system designers had two options available when producing a notebook with a manageable size. For one, they could use the low voltage Pentium III-M chip, which provided to be good speed, but wasn't very forgiving on the power side of things. The other option was to choose Transmeta's Crusoe processor, which proved to use very little power, but at the sacrifice of speed. The Pentium-M mobile processor combines the best of both of these processors, resulting in a power conscious chip that has plenty of performance.

As a result, the Pentium-M fits perfectly into the thin, light and ultraportable designation. Mobile systems of this nature don't have a large amount of space with which to work, nor a large battery. Considering this and the performance needed, processors in these systems need to match a unique set of characteristics.

In our Centrino based notebook roundup, we looked at four notebooks, mostly thin and light notebooks (though, one vaguely could fall between the thin and light and the desktop replacement classification). Since that time, we have only been able to check out one true ultraportable notebook: IBM ThinkPad X31. We also looked at the Acer TravelMate C110, which could be considered an ultraportable notebook only because it is a convertible tablet PC with the footprint of a typical slate tablet PC.

It really hasn't been too much of a surprise to see ultraportable notebooks sold better overseas. As it stands in the North American market, we typically want the fastest computer now and, many times, are willing to sacrifice battery life to get it. This is why desktop replacements systems fare better here than overseas. While this is due to a mix of cultural and demographic reasons, the popularity of ultraportable notebooks is on the rise domestically. Many of the same obstacles that tablet PCs are facing also apply to ultraportable notebooks, as the price tag still is too high for many to consider in addition to a primary system.

The most popular of the ultraportable systems come from the big three: IBM, HP/Compaq, and Dell. We have already seen ultraportable systems from all three system vendors, but have yet to put all of them through the paces. Today, we look at a notebook style that we hope will continue to populate the market, a sub 4-pound ultraportable notebook with all the trimmings that we come to expect from an on-the-go solution: high performance, ultraportable, and a much needed boost in battery life. Dell calls theirs the X300, and it comes from the Latitude product line meant for business users.

Construction - Build, Appearance, Size


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  • DL2 - Saturday, March 20, 2004 - link

    I currently have an x300. I travel a great deal and have had a problem with a spot appearing on the screen. I have already had the screen replaced once and soon to be again. My question is would the IBM x31 be more durable than the Dell 300? I have not been able to find a x31 to compare to.

  • Shalmanese - Saturday, November 1, 2003 - link

    When anyone says Centrino, the basically mean the Pentium-M. Its just that Centrino is the more recognisable brand name. Technically, half the machines out there aren't real Centrinos since they use a 3rd party 802.11a/b/g chip.

    And I wasn't saying that the R50p was comparable to the X300, I just wanted it on the waiting list for reviews. IBM haven't had a serious Desktop replacement machine since the A31p over a year ago. (The G series doesn't count due to its sucky onboard graphics). It should be interesting what it brings to the table.
  • RichieZ - Saturday, November 1, 2003 - link

    "BTW, the T40 isn't all that much bigger than the X31.... I like mine :)"

    Um the T40 is quite a bit bigger than the X31, I had a T40 at work and have an X31 as my personal machine.

    Isn't this X300 acutally made by samsung?
  • Randalmaker - Saturday, November 1, 2003 - link

    "Centrino technology continues to breathe a breath of fresh air into the market with a marriage of performance and portability."...omg stop this blue-eyed intelback-scratchin plz. we all know that the real innovation here is the banias only and that intel is using their marketing power and money 2 wipe out its mainboard competition once more. i shouldnt have 2 tell u that. centrino is a joke but it worx Reply
  • Souka - Friday, October 31, 2003 - link

    R50p is a "monster" in size compared to these ultra-portables.... review, yes...comparable, no.

    anyways....yeah, the X31 rulz....more expensive, but going cheap on laptops is often not worth it. BTW, the T40 isn't all that much bigger than the X31.... I like mine :)

  • Shalmanese - Thursday, October 30, 2003 - link

    "The X31 rains supreme in the battery life department."...

    Anyway, the feature set looks a lot like the Sony ultra-portables, right down to the blocking of the VGA port when you stick the media bay on.

    quick request: would it be possible for you to review the IBM R50p when it comes out? Exected release date is november some time. Thanks

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