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Most Laptop Computers Pass the Torture Test

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RALEIGH — A third of all personal computers sold these days are notebooks-- machines favored by traveling business people. Newer portable computers are more powerful and can do most anything a desktop machine can do. But because they are portable, they can be easily damaged. OnLine reporter Tom Lawrence has some tips on keeping your laptop alive.

PC Computing magazine has completed its torture test on 16 popular models using everything from toddlers to ovens. Notebook users spend thousands of dollars on machines that have to stand up to life on the road. Mark Van Name, Vice-President of Product Testing for Ziff-Davis says for the most part, the machines are living up to the daily grind: People are using new materials, better materials to make the laptops. And I think they are getting more durable because they're getting more popular, more widely used.

Ziff-Davis' labs simulate extreme temperatures like what may be found in a hot car. Computers were baked for two hours at 180 degrees, then they were frozen. Most machines survived these tests, Van Name said.

For security reasons, some people leave their laptop or notebook in the trunk of their car. That's not a bad idea, but on hot days when you take it out, there are some things you should remember.

For example, leaving a computer in a hot car all day, then bringing it into a cool house can cause moisture to build up and destroy the disk drive.

Certainly, dropping computers creates visible and invisible damage. Accidental spills can create havoc too. Still some models tested survived these tests, even a heavy play session with toddlers. Modern notebooks are better than ever but it pays to treat them well.

Repairs on notebooks are expensive because of their small size. It's often better to replace a notebook computer than to repair it.