In your comprehensive report on the current state of laptop computers ("Annual guide to computers," Cover Story, Nov. 4), there is no discussion of how much the various laptops weigh--which is an essential element when you're lugging one around. For a year, I used a laptop that weighed 12 pounds with all the necessary accessories. It was a nice computer, but it was far too heavy for a traveling woman carrying a handbag and carry-on suitcase in addition to the computer.

Now, with a new laptop--weighing in, undressed, at 4 1/2 pounds--my shoulder doesn't suffer for days following my trips. A computer that's too heavy is no help to anybody.

Julie Osler

New York

I found your review of Iomega's Zip drive far too rosy. I'm an admitted propeller-head, but I made a mistake when I fell for the marketing of the Zip drive. Its claims were impressive--fast access, 100 megabytes of removable storage, and portability with the external parallel model. So I went ahead and bought one.

Very shortly after trying to use the product, however, I found out that the drive was as slow as any floppy drive when you factor in the seek time and that initialization required for each read/write session. And it requires you to reboot your computer before you add or remove the drive. This was definitely not plug 'n' play. The last thing I want to do is reboot the computer every time I want extra drive space or access to stored files.

Furthermore, you shouldn't even try to use backup software with the Zip drive unless your backup software allows you to estimate how much disk space you will need. When the disk in the Zip drive fills up, the backup program in Windows 95 reports that the drive won't accept another disk and trashes the 100 megabytes of data already saved. Then it's necessary to start over.

The drive would be a much better product if Iomega added plug 'n' play, increased speed, and added a power switch to the unit. (Currently, you have to unplug the power adapter to turn it off.) Ranking the drive for usability, I would give it a C-.

Chris Bledsoe

Sterling, Va.

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