I had the occasion recently to research laptops to replace my four-year-old machine and discovered in the process that the new, wide screen machines, more specifically the 17-inchers, make great desktop replacements for lawyers on the go! In the model I purchased, an HP dv9000t, the width of the screen translated to the width of the keyboard, and I got a conventional numeric keypad in the bargain! This was great for me, as my practice deals with numbers quite a bit. Also, the wider screen leads to more screen real estate for wider spreadsheets (did I mention that my practice deals with numbers quite a bit)? Although at first blush these machines might not strike you as good for business, with their DVD player software, TV tuners, Media Center software, and the like, you should consider them as a better portable office than machines with smaller, conventional screens.

Another recomendation I would make is a cordless optical mouse. Although I have used touchpads for years, I bought the BlueTooth mouse at the same time I got the laptop and have loved it ever since. Although the keyboard is comfortable, the mouse makes using the machine so much easier, especially when I am using it for long periods of time.

The one drawback to this choice is that carrying cases for 17″ laptops are in short supply. My machine didn’t come with one, and I have been searching for a decent bag ever since (I happen to like a “top load” or “slipcase” model, while most bags are the “briefcase” or “lunchbox” variety). Hopefully, as the popularity for widescreen laptops increases, companies like Targus and Kensington will make a wider variety of carrying cases to go with them.