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I’ve never been a big fan of laptop computers for a number of reasons, but recent advances in technology have me recommending them for more users than ever. In the past, laptops have always been more expensive than desktops, not as fast, susceptible to damage, with small screen displays, annoying trackballs, bulky to carry and usually missing something you need. Unless there was a compelling reason to get a laptop, I’ve always steered users away from them. While all of those caveats remain in place, I can now say that the marketing promise of a “desktop replacement” is actually true. The impetus for this change in philosophy is the introduction of the Centrino mobile chip by Intel earlier this year. The chip allows manufacturers to design lightweight, fast laptops with wireless network connections and long battery life. In the past, manufacturers were getting away from accessories such as built-in CD burners or DVD drives in order to cut down on cost and weight. But now these items are essential to any computer, desktop or laptop, and the lightweight business models being produced by manufacturers including IBM and Dell can, for the first time, be used comfortably at both the office and on the road. So how do you decide if you need a laptop or not? Everyone’s situation is different, but here are some things to consider:

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