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Top 15 Notebook PCs

These charts rank computers based on tests conducted by PC World magazine (www.pcworld.com), which publishes results monthly. System configurations listed were the ones tested, though companies may have changed the products. For an explanation of how the magazine tests, please check its Web site.

Power Notebooks

1. IBM ThinkPad T30: 1.8GHz Pentium 4-M; 14.1-inch screen; 40GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 6.7 pounds. Price when ranked: $2,949. Current prices: $2,024 to $2,394. Comments: Two-spindle machine has dual pointing devices and integrates Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (802.11b) networking.

2. IBM ThinkPad R32: 1.8GHz Pentium 4-M; 14.1-inch screen; 30GB hard drive; 8X DVD-ROM drive; 6.7 pounds. Price when ranked: $2,114. Current prices: $1,603 to $1,749. Comments: This lightweight model has a modular bay, as well as a spacious screen and a comfortable keyboard.

3. Gateway 600XL: 2GHz Pentium 4-M; 15.7-inch screen; 40GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 9.9 pounds. Price when ranked: $2,678. Current price: $2,699. Comments: A generous screen distinguishes this wireless-ready model. Holds two optical drives, three batteries or three hard drives.

4. MicronPC TransPort GX3: 1.8GHz Pentium 4-M; 15-inch screen; 40GB hard drive; 8X DVD-ROM drive; 8.0 pounds. Price when ranked: $2,299. Comments: A fingerprint reader and an impressive keyboard highlight this stylish laptop; but battery life is only 2.6 hours.

5. Toshiba Satellite 1955-S801: 2.2GHz Pentium 4; 16-inch screen; 40GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 11.3 pounds. Price when ranked: $2,399. Current prices: $1,780 to $2,465. Comments: Unit has a detachable wireless keyboard, a huge 16-inch notebook screen and a wireless mouse.

6. Gateway 200: 933MHz Pentium III-M; 12.1-inch screen; 20GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 6.5 pounds. Price when ranked: $2,020. Current price: $1,999. Comments: Reasonably priced, lightweight model has average battery life and weighs just 6.5 pounds with only its docking station.

7. Sony VAIO SRX99: 850MHz Pentium III-M; 10.4-inch screen; 20GB hard drive; 8X DVD-ROM drive; 4.7 pounds. Price when ranked: $2,049. Current prices: $1,289 to $1,599. Comments: Ultraportable unit weighs a mere 2.8 pounds (with a travel weight of 4.7 pounds); it features built-in Wi-Fi and a Memory Stick slot.

Value notebooks

1. Dell Inspiron 4150: 1.8GHz Pentium 4-M; 14.1-inch screen; 30GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 7.2 pounds. Price when ranked: $1,777. Comments: An average performer; for an extra $10, it ships with M-Systems' DiskOnKey, an 8MB USB storage drive, in lieu of a floppy drive (a $20 value).

2. Toshiba Satellite 1905-S301: 2GHz Pentium 4; 15-inch screen; 40GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 9.8 pounds. Price when ranked: $1,799. Current prices: $1,449 to $1,875. Comments: Battery lasted a whopping 4 hours, 11 minutes. Snazzy design includes such amenities as integrated Wi-Fi and front-mounted audio controls.

3. Compaq Presario 2801CL: 1.4GHz Pentium 4-M; 15-inch screen; 30GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 7.4 pounds. Price when ranked: $1,699. Comments: Stylish, neat-as-a-pin case features specialized USB 1.1 connection on the lid for adding a Wi-Fi wireless module.

4. Gateway 450X: 1.8GHz Pentium 4-M; 15-inch screen; 20GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 7.5 pounds. Price when ranked: $1,828. Comments: Called the 450XL last month, this notebook features a single-bay design and a great keyboard.

5. Fujitsu LifeBook S Series: 1GHz Pentium III-M; 13.3-inch screen; 40GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 5.7 pounds. Price when ranked: $1,899. Current price: $1,799. Comments: Wireless-ready lightweight model includes a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. But battery life is only average, at 2 hours, 43 minutes.

6. Dell Inspiron 2650: 1.6GHz Pentium 4-M; 14.1-inch screen; 30GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 8.3 pounds. Price when ranked: $1,746. Comments: A basic all-in-one notebook with a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive, but only average battery life and price.

7. Sony VAIO VX88: 850MHz Pentium III-M; 14.1-inch screen; 30GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 6.5 pounds. Price when ranked: $1,700. Current prices: $1,349 to $2,216. Comments: This lightweight portable has no internal bays to accommodate additional peripherals, but does include a roomy 14.1-inch screen.

8. Compaq Presario 1510: 2.2GHz Pentium 4; 15-inch screen; 40GB hard drive; DVD-ROM and CD-RW combination drive; 8.9 pounds. Price when ranked: $1,999. Current prices: $1,877 to $1,899. Comments: Equipped with a desktop CPU, this is the top performer on the chart, but its battery lasted only 2 hours, 20 minutes.

Reprinted by permission, PC World magazine, December issue. This chart is available online at www.pcworld.com/reviews/ article/0,aid,106169,00.

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