Who needs a desktop PC? A powerful new crop of laptops makes it easy to hit the road. These mobile machines easily connect to the Internet via wi-fi or with special modems from cell-phone carriers. Since it's rough on the road, both physically and virtually, safety measures like personal firewalls, data encryption and rugged cases are now a major part of the mobile package.
• Itronix Rugged Hummer Laptop Like the SUV, it's built to take a beating. It has a magnesium case, removable hard drive, plus optional touch screen, GPS receiver and wireless modem. www.hummerlaptops.com $2,990 to $4,550
• USB Security Keys
Kingston's Data Traveler II Plus USB key has 256 MB to 1 GB of storage and Migo software that lets you save your Windows desktop and bring it to any computer. kingston.com $34 to $168
The Lexar JumpDrive Secure II has software to encrypt any file you drag to it, plus a "shredder" for permanent deletion. 256 MB to 1 GB. lexar.com $40 to $100
Kensington's Personal Firewall for Notebooks helps you keep personal data private when using your PC at a public wireless hot spot. kensington.com $50
• Sony Vaio TX Mobility meets high performance: the TX weighs less than 3 lbs. but gets up to 71/2 hours of battery life and has a built-in DVD drive and a Cingular wireless modem. sonystyle.com $2,000 to $2,600
• Iomega Mini Drive This hard drive is USB-powered, so you can back up data anywhere--no wall plug required. Capacity ranges from 20 GB to 60 GB, and drives include auto-backup software. iomega.com $150 to $290