Choosing A Notebook Computer; Indispensable Tools For Photographers Page 2

Dell's Precision
The Dell Precision M90 ($3001 as customized) features an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7600 operating at 2.33GHz, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and a bright 17" widescreen WXGA+ LCD display. It includes a 100GB, 7200 RPM hard drive and an 8x DVD burner. Graphics are powered by an NVIDIA Quadro FX 1500M engine with 256MB of dedicated video RAM. Size-wise it's a middleweight, tipping the scales at 8.6 lbs and measuring 15.5x11.3x1.6" (WxDxH), but performance-wise it's a heavyweight, once you add up all of the specs.

Toshiba's Qosmio
Desktop replacement--and then some--the Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV650 Notebook Computer has a 2GHz Intel Core Duo CPU, 1GB RAM, a pair of 100GB hard drives (more on that later), and a DVD SuperMulti Combo Drive that reads and writes DVDs and CDs. Add to that a 17" widescreen display, Bluetooth, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, and you have a fantastic, fully loaded 10-lb package with a surprisingly reasonable street price of $2250.

You can organize the pair of 100MB internal hard drives in either RAID 0 or RAID 1 configurations. RAID 0 stripes the data for speedier read-write operations--great for gamers. RAID 1, the preferred configuration for data protection, writes exactly the same data on each drive, effectively creating a mirror image on the second drive. If one drive crashes, the other still has all of your images, safe and sound. If you don't know, RAID is an acronym for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives.

The Qosmio G35 even has a built-in TV tuner so you can record television programs directly to your hard drive. You can also play back content from HD DVD video discs at full 1080p resolution. Among the many other features we don't have room to list here is a 5-in-1 card reader for image downloads--so you have one less thing to pack. It's a truly nice machine.

Sony's VAIO
What can you get for under $1000? Quite a bit, as a matter of fact. How about a Sony VAIO VGN-N130G/W Notebook Computer with a 1.6GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, dual-layer DVD burner, FireWire connectivity, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005--and--a 15.4" widescreen display. The keyboard is comfortable, and although this model is not ultra-portable by any means, at 14.4x10.5x1.5" and 6.8 lbs it travels well. If you need more portability, for $200 extra you can step up to a Sony VAIO VGN-SZ340 Notebook. It's 1" thick and weighs just 4 lbs; still it provides a 13.3" widescreen display and offers long battery life, integrated wireless, and an optional double-layer DVD burner.

If you can't upgrade to a new notebook, you still may be able to squeeze a little more performance out of your current machine by adding more RAM. First determine the maximum memory your computer will support, then find out how many of the memory banks are populated. A good place to find out how much RAM you can add (and how much it will set you back) is Kingston Technology's website, You can search for your computer by name and model number and you'll learn everything you need to know.