Back to School 2004 -- School Bytes


For the College Set

Laptops are as ubiquitous on college campuses today as hacky sacks. Students tote them everywhere, taking notes in lecture halls, writing papers at the dorm or chilling out with music on the quad. Send your student off with a light, versatile machine.

Your college-bound kid may gain a freshman 10, but thin is in with higher-ed laptops. Just 1.3 inches thick and weighing a mere 6.5 pounds, this portable PC packs an 80-gigabyte hard drive and a crisp, bright 15.4-inch screen. The integrated wireless networking is not the fastest available, but it's fine for browsing all but the most graphics-intensive Websites on a shared dorm-room Web connection. $999. Available at

Well known and much loved among gaming geeks, Alienware has lately expanded to serve the rest of the computer market. This distinctive-looking laptop is the result of that hybrid experiment. The base model's 20-gigabyte hard drive is dinky compared to some home-office laptops, sure, but you'd be hard pressed to find better graphics performance in a package this size. Assembled to order, each Alienware laptop is backed by the most conscientious and exacting customer service on the market. $2,238. Available at

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