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Smaller notebooks offer ream of features

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Hardware

Most of the attention in notebook computing has been on full-size models, the hefty laptops with 15- or 17-inch screens that can replace desktop units. But a spate of new ultraportable notebooks have also recently emerged, in the category often called subnotebooks or ultralight laptops.

These much smaller notebooks have screens of 12.1 inches or less and are compact enough to use in cramped places like airplanes. They are also light enough, in the range of two to four pounds, to tote for extended periods without much strain.

The new models include features like built-in optical drives with DVD burners, improved battery life, fingerprint readers and new processors. Wi-Fi wireless networking is a standard feature.

With all the ultraportables, the laws of physics still have not changed, so the smaller you go, the more screen and keyboard space you will need to sacrifice. But if you like things small, the choices are getting larger.

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