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Notebook processors are keeping up with desktop speeds.

Notebook computer technology has just about caught up with desktop computing. Over the past 12 months, processor speed nearly doubled, a new generation of video controllers appeared, and the amount of system memory and hard-disk capacity skyrocketed.

The most fundamental change in laptops has been the simultaneous availability of notebook and desktop processors with the same clock speed. Vendors are pairing high-speed CPUs, like Intel's 166MHz Pentium MMX, with large active-matrix color screens, 2GB hard drives, state-of-the-art video and internal modems.

Today's value-class notebooks are nearly every bit as capable as yesterday's top-of-the-line models. Most include a 133MHz Pentium--some have 16MB of RAM. It's hard to find a hard disk under 1GB, and many now ship with 11.3-inch active-matrix color screens. All this can now be had for less than $2,000.

The coming year holds even more promise as Intel rolls out faster processors, and manufacturers take advantage of falling memory prices and new screen technologies. Over the next 12 months, expect to see notebooks with MMX processors capable of running at 266MHz, along with video adapters designed to drive 3D displays and connect to televisions. Some manufacturers say they'll ship notebooks with 32MB of RAM and hard disks that hold more than 2GB.

Additionally, count on notebook makers to launch a new generation of ultra-compact products similar to, but more powerful than, the 3.75-pound HP OmniBook 800CT (a long-time member of our WinList of recommended products).

Another advancement will be the widespread availability of NT as a primary OS for notebooks. It's already offered as an option on laptops like Toshiba's Tecra line and some members of IBM's ThinkPad family. Manufacturers say falling memory prices and native support of power management in NT 5.0 could drive the further acceptance of NT among corporate road warriors.


Notebooks: The Winners

Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.