Micron TransPort XT2
WHAT'S HOT: Micron's latest midsize laptop is one of the most well-designed one-bay laptops you can buy. The XT2 is done mostly in soothing blues and grays, and weighs about 6 pounds without the floppy drive and AC adapter. (You can insert the Air Bay weight saver to drop the weight to 5 pounds.)
The optical drive, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination model in our test unit, sits toward the front of the right side, easily reachable when you want to pop out the tray. All of the audio ports, including a volume wheel and an S/PDIF port, are located above it. In the lower-right corner of the keyboard, in a spiffy silver panel, sit the XT2's dedicated music controls, which let you use the notebook as a stand-alone CD player. We liked this configuration better than the typical arrangement of controls on the front, which can be awkward to press.
Hate squinting to make out labels? Micron slaps big block letters on almost every part of its notebooks, including the memory, the hard drive, the Mini-PCI compartment, and even the optical drive, just so you don't have to guess.
WHAT'S NOT: The design stumbles in just two minor places. One is the lid release, a big blue latch that could be easier to work. The other is the battery, whose silver pull handle sat so flat against the end we had to pry it up with the tip of a screwdriver. The protective end cap comes off completely, so be careful not to lose it. Fortunately, you'll rarely need to remove the battery.
The XT2 doesn't come loaded with any applications at the $1999 price, so you'll have to pay extra for them.
WHAT ELSE: The XT2 offers all standard notebook connections, with a long, sturdy flip-down cover protecting the parallel, VGA, and serial ports on the back. A sliding door in the cover opens a window on the port for connecting a docking station.
The XT2 is easy to upgrade and can accommodate a second battery, a second hard drive, or a Zip 250 drive in the modular bay, if you remove the optical drive. The keyboard, which feels solid and easy to type on, has three application-launch buttons and nonskid textured palm rests. The speakers (located above the keyboard) are loud, but their sound is not as robust as that from an external set. Also on the XT2's long list of multimedia extras are an IEEE 1394 port (for connecting DV camcorders and external hard drives) and, on the left side beneath a rubber plug, a composite video-out port for using a TV as a monitor.
The XT2 did well in our performance tests, turning in a battery life of a little over 3 hours. Using a 1-GHz/733-MHz Pentium III-M CPU and running Windows XP Home, the XT2 earned a PC WorldBench 4 score of 96, in line with the only other similarly equipped laptop we've tested, the Compaq Presario 1720, which scored a 95.
UPSHOT: The Micron TransPort XT2 almost does it all, and for a very reasonable price. It doesn't weigh a lot, it includes a big screen and a combination drive, and it looks good.
By Carla Thornton