Cool Laptops

June 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
More people are buying laptops these days than desktop computers. In this lab where Consumer Reports tests laptops, you can find everything from this mini Asus EEE PC with its seven-inch screen for $400 to a 20-inch HP for $2,000. The HP weighs more than 15 pounds. Compare that to Apple's Macbook air, which is super thin and weighs just three pounds.

Testers also checked out a Lenovo Ideapad that makes logging on a lot simpler. It stores a scan of your face and then uses face recognition to make sure it's really you.

Testers found the laptop did let registered users in and kept everyone else out, although it doesn't work well in dim light for some people wearing glasses.

Chris Lam ran a series of tests on two dozen laptops to see how fast they perform and how long their batteries last. Testers also checked screen quality; some show a lot of reflection, like this one.

Testers also assessed ergonomics, another important consideration. "For ergonomics we examine factors such as how comfortable the keyboard is to use, whether or not the touch pad tracks properly, and the placement of the ports," says Lam.

And don't forget the extras. No matter what the price of the laptop is, you'll probably wind up paying hundreds of dollars more. To upgrade your software so it works with the new Vista operating system.

Another thing to consider: how hot the bottom of the laptop gets after running for 15 minutes. Some get pretty hot.

Consumer Reports found several laptops to recommend, including the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 for under $1,000.

It's fast with a long battery life, though you do have to log on the old-fashioned way.