Looking for a new laptop? Thin is in

But, how do you decide which portable machine best suits your needs and budget?

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch Ric Romero's review of new thin laptops, including exclusive abc7.com Extra video clips

Apple guru Steve Jobs calls the MacBook Air the world's thinnest notebook.

At three pounds, the Air is a high-tech lightweight. But it's not the lightest laptop.

So we asked CNET's Editor at Large, Brian Cooley, to give us the lowdown on popular portables under four pounds from Apple, Toshiba, Sony, and Lenovo.

We measured them, weighed them, and looked at their best and worst features.

The lightest of the lightweights: the Toshiba Portege. On our scale, it weighed 1.6 pounds.

"I thought this might be one of those display dummies you see at the store. This guy weighs nothing because it has a solid state drive in it," Cooley said.

Because it has fewer moving parts, the Portege boots up faster and uses less power. But it's expensive, starting at $2,100.

The MacBook Air is generating a lot of buzz for its ultra-thin, cooler-than-hip style. But there is no CD or DVD drive and it only has one USB port.

"It's a minimalist portable machine and a lot of folks are concerned there are not enough accessories or drives or connections in this thing."

The keyboard is slim and flat, and like many laptops, may not be easy to use for some people. Prices start at $1,800.

The Sony Vaio TZ series laptops have wafer-thin monitors. Unlike the Mac, the Vaio has a variety of ports and connections and an optical drive for CDs and DVDs. The price range: from $1,900 to $3,700.

Lenovo's ThinkPad is bulkier and geared for business users. Depending on the models, prices range from about $500 to $3,000. It has a bigger screen, and a keyboard that's more like a desktop. It also has a fingerprint reader.

"If you've got sensitive corporate data or your small business is all on here, it's nice to have extra security -- a fingerprint reader that's really hard to crack."

The best features on the laptops we looked at: the MacBook for its cool and ultra-thin look, the Toshiba Portege, an ultra lightweight, the Sony Vaio's extra ports and connections, and the Lenovo ThinkPad's bigger screen and keyboard.

Cooley says the worst features of the MacBook: its limited connections; the Portege: it's expensive; the Vaio's flat keyboard may be difficult to type on; and the ThinkPad is bulky.

In all we found the lightest machines often have the biggest price tags and the fewest features.

Check out these Web sites for more information about the featured laptops:


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