A light touch

This is it. I've found a laptop I don't want to let go of. I'm sure there will be improvements in a year or so that I will just have to have, but for now, Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.'s new Portege 2000 is it.

The Portege 2000 has it all: It is ultralight and ultrathin with strong performance and stylish elegance. About my only unfulfilled wish is that it came free inside a box of cereal. Still, the estimated street price for the configuration we tested is a reasonable $2,199.

As soon as we lifted the Portege 2000 out of the box, we knew we were holding something special. For starters, at little more than half an inch thick, the unit is the thinnest we've ever booted up. And because it weighs in at only 2.6 pounds, you'll barely feel the difference when you add it to whatever else is in your briefcase.

The Portege 2000 is nothing if not stylish. The elegant silver matte magnesium alloy case opens to display a user interface that is almost completely matte black, which nicely sets off the sharp 12-inch thin-film transistor display. The generously sized keyboard has excellent tactile response, and the bank of indicator lights — also visible with the display closed — is easy to see and decipher.

The Portege 2000 isn't the fastest notebook in its class, built as it is around Intel Corp.'s 750 MHz Pentium III Processor-M. Modest differences show up in benchmark testing, but during actual use, we couldn't perceive any difference in the processing speeds of other notebooks running the faster — and significantly more expensive — 1.13 GHz Pentium III processor.

The Portege 2000 comes standard with 256M of system memory, which can be expanded to 512M, and a 20G hard drive. Should you need more storage, you can employ the Portege's Secure Digital media slot for an optional 256M memory card.

We were also impressed with the unit's connectivity. Despite its slim lines, the Portege 2000 offers two USB ports, an RGB port, an Ethernet port, an infrared port, a built-in 56 kilobits/sec modem and integrated wireless (802.11b) connectivity. As soon as we booted up, the Portege 2000 detected the presence of our wireless network.

Although the Portege 2000 does not come with a docking station, you can attach optional disk drives, including a DVD or CD drive, via USB ports or the single PC Card slot. Also, Toshiba offers a port replicator that provides an additional four USB ports.

Last, but hardly least, Toshiba offers a three-year warranty on the Portege 2000.

The bottom line: From start to finish, the Portege 2000 is a class act. The unit's design sets a new standard for ultralight computers.

REPORT CARD

Portege 2000

Score: A+

Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.

(800) TOSHIBA

www.toshiba.com

The estimated retail price of the configuration we tested is $2,199. Overall, the Portege 2000 is the most appealing ultralight notebook we've seen. The unit combines a sleek 0.6-inch-thick case, stylish design and strong performance in an affordable package.

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