As we count our blessings today, we can't help but give thanks for something gadget heads couldn't do without: old fashioned competition. Calling out Dell's XPS M1710 (and similar) as overpriced and packaged with subpar technical support (aw snap), WidowPC is giving hardcore mobile gamers a choice in their purchasing decisions by offering up the Sting 517D. Touting a nearly limitless list of component selections, this 17-inch beast houses your choice of Intel's 1.66GHz to 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA's GeForce Go 7950 512MB graphics card, up to 200GB of SATA goodness, a WUXGA display, dual-layer DVD burner, up to 4GB of DDR2 RAM, built-in WiFi / Bluetooth, TV tuner, 4-in-1 flash card reader, "$400 in free software," and a lifetime's worth of free, American-based phone support. The fleshed-out machine also boasts an army of ports, including 4-pin FireWire, IrDA, serial, ExpressCard slot, DVI / S-Video outputs, S-Video input, audio in / out, 56k modem, gigabit Ethernet, and four USB 2.0 connectors. Thankfully, WidowPC found a way to shave three full pounds from its 917X2, bringing the LAN-ready machine in at a fairly respectable 8.3 pounds. While pricing for the Sting 517D starts at just under $2,200, upping the innards to 1337 status could put your credit limit in serious turmoil, but the wicked spider logo across the lid definitely makes it worthwhile.

Pogue's perspective: megapixel numbers don't matter