Typically, business laptops lag behind their consumer counterparts in features, to provide maximum compatibility across companies whose update cycles are a little ... protracted.
Indeed, some business models haven't been updated since last year, showing the pace at which the industry moves.
Still, as of Centrino 2 mid last year, we've started seeing the venerable PCMCIA slots make way for the newer ExpressCard, eSATA ports have turned up on some due to the hybrid USB/eSATA ports, charging has been enabled over USB ports while the laptop sleeps, and 802.11n and gigabit Ethernet are the standard, along with Bluetooth to cover all forms of communications.
Lately, some companies in Australia are even starting to get built-in WWAN sorted out, meaning a 3G internet connection wherever you go without having to rely on a soap-on-a-rope style USB dongle or ExpressCard with an antenna sticking out the side.
You still won't find a trace of an HDMI port on these things, as most vendors will ardently tell you that that's reserved for consumer-land. As a result, VGA ports are still everywhere, so you can plug into whatever projector may cross your path. Still, Dell is now including DisplayPort on its Latitude models (despite a relative dearth of products that support the standard), and just about any business laptop will plug into a dock or port replicator that gives you DVI capability.
There's also a hidden bonus: if you buy business, you'll get a matte screen instead of a shiny one, reducing reflections and glare to a minimum.
We've rounded up the laptops from each vendor closest to AU$2500 and thrown them in the ring to compete on the machine's merits alone — let's see who comes out on top.