Over the last year or so, the hype surrounding solid-state hard drives has increased exponentially. Laptops that utilise SSDs tend to have several advantages over those that use traditional 2.5-inch drives. These include faster boot times, quicker application launching, lower noise levels, lower read and write latency times, and lower power consumption -- which theoretically improves battery life.
Laptops that use SSDs are relatively thin on the ground, but there are some you can purchase right now. Apple's MacBook Air comes in two flavours. The base model ships with an 80GB parallel ATA drive with a spin speed of 4,200rpm. In other words, there's really not an awful lot of room to stash your files, and those files you do manage to squeeze onboard will be accessed very slowly. The premium model comes with a 64GB solid state hard drive, which does speed up the system. A word of warning, though: you'll have to pay an extra £829 for the privilege, which is excessive as far as we're concerned.
Next up is the Asus Eee PC, which occupies the opposite end of the price spectrum. The base model starts at £179 and for this you get a basic, but highly portable laptop that comes with 2GB, 4GB or 8GB of solid-state memory. We know that's not an awful lot, but the Linux-based operating system doesn't take up nearly as much space as Windows or OS X, and you can always connect an SDHC memory card to provide extra storage -- up to 32GB at the time of writing.
SSDs also have a place in high-end gaming machines like the Alienware M9750. In systems like these, the SSD is used to store the operating system and other files you're likely to need quick access to. The M9750 can accommodate a single 64GB SSD or dual 64GB SSDs -- but you'll pay for it. It's overkill if you ask us, but you'll get an awful lot of kudos from your buddies.
Our final recommendation is the Toshiba Portege R500 -- reportedly the world's lightest laptop. If ever there was a laptop that would benefit from a solid state drive, it's this one. The SSD version is lighter than the standard model, has a longer battery life -- according to Toshiba -- and provides faster disk access. Toshiba has also proven the theory that SSD drives are more resilient to extreme conditions by asking world-famous explorer David Hempleman-Adams to take an SSD-equipped R500 on a transatlantic hot air balloon flight. Apparently, it survived.