Sager 9860

Written by James McLean
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Laptop use is on the rise. These days you can hardly enter any public space--airport, library or coffee house--without being greeted by the sight of a dozen people busily working on their notebook computers. It has become commonplace enough that a number of establishments have begun providing ethernet links at every table for mobile professionals on the run.

The statistics bear out all this anecdotal evidence. Laptop sales continue to skyrocket at a staggering rate, growing every quarter even as desktop sales are finally slowing down. Sales of mobile computers doubled in the three years between 2001 and 2004, and many industry experts believe they won't take that long to double again. Put simply, we are witnessing one of the longest booms in the history of modern technology.

What They Can and Can't Do

Until very recently, however, the desktop was still the machine of choice for avid gamers and anyone with a media bent. Traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, while not half as handsome, were widely believed to do a better job at rendering bright, clear graphics for fast-moving games. And the graphics chips and cooling systems in those freestanding machines were considered far more efficient than any portable version.

That has all changed with the last couple generations of notebook technology. Today you can find bleeding edge Radeon X800 chips, integrated subwoofers and some of the sharpest, brightest UXGA+ screens the LCD community has yet to invent. It all adds up to a generation of mobile computing platforms that have become true contenders for the hearts of even the most hard-bitten media enthusiasts.

The New Way

The old adage about doing one thing and doing it well holds especially true in the tech sector, where developing too many products can rob each of its integrity. Apple has carved out a solid niche by playing by these rules, and a growing phalanx of PC notebook manufacturers is doing the same for laptops. Today many of the finest professional and gaming notebooks are designed and built by second-tier companies whose expertise infuses each new machine with outstanding features.

Probably the most exciting development in this competitive design arena is the recent addition of TV tuner cards to the high-end entries. Because these video adapters can interpret analog cable signals such as those that come out of your wall, users are suddenly free to view and save television programming anywhere their travels take them. With built-in DVR functions, they can even burn the shows they like to DVD for future viewing at any time.

Head of the Class

Want an example of a leaner, meaner company that produces outstanding products quarter after quarter? Sager, which turns out laptops prized by computing aficionados across the country, continues to innovate in a number of areas. Their new 9860 laptop is one of the fastest portable machines, running a Pentium 4 Prescott chip at 3.0GHz and packing ATI's new Radeon X800 card--all for under $2,500.

Smaller companies tend to save on advertising and go straight for the jugular with products that get your pulse racing. If you are in the market for a media-ready notebook computer and want to invest in some of the very best hardware around, you may want to look at the smaller builders making news these days. A little good information can point you toward an exceptional value from a little-known source.

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