Test sytem provided by Powernotebooks.com.

The use of desktop components in portable systems has started a new trend in mobile computing. Whereas in the past mobile systems were reserved as systems with limited functionality and speed that catered to a fairly niche market, mobile systems of today are quickly becoming the ubiquitous electronic component. Take the desktop replacement notebook for example. By packing the power of a desktop in a portable system with an LCD monitor attached, the desktop replacement breed of notebooks today aim to do away with that big beige box that sits on your floor and replace it with a (somewhat) mobile computer.

As the desktop replacement model for notebooks evolved we saw the offerings diversify, resulting in two extremes of the concept. On one end of the desktop replacement category are the Compaq Presario 2800 and Dell Inspiron 8200 notebooks of the world that meld together portability with power. These systems are typically not as full featured as a well configured desktop system but often times possess desktop-like speed. They may be missing features such as dual hard drives or internal floppy drives, but what they lack in features they make up for in size. The powerful and portable but feature lacking desktop replacement notebook represents one extreme of the desktop replacement category.

At the other end of the spectrum we have desktop computers masquerading as notebooks. One can imagine a Shuttle XPC with a handle and an LCD as the most brute force "portable" desktop replacement out there. A system such as this may have the speed and features offered by desktops but has a large disadvantage in the size category. We can call our all-in-one Shuttle XPC the other extreme of desktop replacement notebooks.

Clearly lugging an XPC around with an LCD monitor and calling it a laptop is absurd. We bring up this concept not to suggest that Shuttle change their business model but rather to pose a question: what are the size requirements for a "notebook" or "laptop" computer? If Shuttle produced an XPC box with a fold down LCD panel and an integrated keyboard/mouse, would it be a notebook? Our instincts tell us no but it is hard to pinpoint exactly what distinguishes a notebook from a small desktop. Pegging the notebook criteria down to a measurement or weight is next to impossible.

We have seen notebooks before that push the definition of portability. Take the Toshiba Satellite 1905-S277 we looked at last year for example. The system was clearly powerful, offering a desktop Pentium 4 processor and 256MB of memory, but carrying it around did prove to be a problem. Weighing in at 8.3 pounds and measuring 13.2"x11.7"x2.0", the Satellite 1905-S277 is an even bigger pain to carry around than your high school Biology book.

While the Toshiba Satellite 1905-S277 may have been big, today we take a look at a new class of desktop replacement notebooks that pushes the size barrier even further. Measuring in at 14.2"x11.8"x2.15" and tipping the scales at 12 pounds, the Sager NP8886 includes features that would make some desktops jealous. The question is, does it qualify as a notebook and if so is it the right notebook for you?

Construction - Build, Appearance, Size

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