Laptops of Luxury

A truly decked-out notebook is the ideal traveling companion. We lab-tested six new portable powerhouses, and picked accessories that let them do even more.

Part 1 of a special five-part series. -->

By Carla Thornton, PC World; Testing by Thomas Luong and William Wang

Thursday, July 26, 2007 10:00 PM PDT

The Sony VAIO VGN-FZ180E/B (above) has a vibrant 15.4-inch screen, while the HP Pavilion HDX's 20.1-inch screen can tilt up, off the notebook's base.

Laptops have gone extreme. Some of the latest models come loaded with giant screens, massive hard drives, dual processors, Blu-ray or HD DVD drives, and even designer lids, if you so desire. Laptops have also become incredibly popular in recent years--major vendors say that portables are on track to outsell desktop PCs by 1 million units this year. Laptop companies must be doing the right things to make their machines so enticing.

We rounded up six of the biggest, baddest laptops we could find to see which are worth your hard-earned dollars. We tested three desktop replacement models (the Apple MacBook Pro, Dell Inspiron 1720, and HP Pavilion HDX) and three all-purpose laptops (the Lenovo ThinkPad R61, Sony VAIO VGN-FZ180E/B, and Toshiba Satellite A205-S4639). We ran our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 benchmark test suite--as well as our battery tests--on the notebooks, and we also put them through our rigorous hands-on evaluations. In the end the HP notebook came out atop the desktop-replacement category, while the Lenovo portable bested the other all-purpose models.

In addition to looking at some of the most decked-out portables available, we examined the latest mobile broadband options to help you stay connected when you're on the road. We also checked up on solid-state technology and how it's changing the way laptops perform. We peeked a bit into the future to see where laptop technology is headed. And finally, we rounded up a number of carry-on bags for protecting your machine and looked at some accessories that can help increase your productivity when you and your notebook are traveling.