CD-ROM Laptops: Time to Upgrade Is Approaching

Article excerpt

So many good things are coming out on CD-ROMs, it's hard to leave them behind. National phone books. A full encyclopedia. I want them all when I hit the road.

Until now, that was nearly impossible. Portable computers with CD-ROM drives built in were very expensive. And stand-alone drives that plugged into the computer were slow and bulky.

No longer. Nearly every major manufacturer of notebook computers is coming out with CD-ROM equipped models. External drives have also become much faster and more useful, thanks to PC Card slots. So is it time to make the move to portable CD-ROM computing?

For the past several weeks, I've been experimenting with a CD-ROM-equipped Toshiba laptop to answer that question. Of course, the answer depends on how you use your portable computer.

I'm a heavy user of CD-ROMs. So when Toshiba sent me a Satellite Pro 400 CS with a CD-ROM upgrade, I could hardly wait to try it out.

Granted, such information usually isn't vital during business trips. It usually serves as background, handy only on those long trips when the outlines of the project are not entirely clear. Still, there are times when having the right disk eases life on the road.

Even if you don't travel with your portable machine, the reasons to get a CD-ROM are growing. As programs get larger, software developers are getting tired of sending out all those floppy disks. They're switching to CD-ROMs.

Already, some nine out of 10 desktop computers are sold with CD-ROM drives, says Mike Wagner, director of customer marketing for Toshiba America Information Systems. By the end of next year, the company expects that 60 percent of all portable computers will include the drives as well.

So the technology is coming. "You will see it become quite popular," says Robert Abraham, vice president of Freeman Associates, a Santa Barbara, Calif. …