Portable not as powerful as other air conditioners
The Internet is full of consumer reviews of portable air conditioners, and virtually all express disappointment that portables aren't as powerful or efficient as wall units. On the other hand, a portable unit can be rolled from room to room, which is more energy-efficient than expensive central AC with ducting.
The primary thing is to get a portable based on your space-cooling requirements, which are expressed as British thermal units, or BTUs. Too small a capacity, and the portable can't keep up. Too large, and it burns energy wastefully and cools unevenly.
Keep in mind that because portables are less efficient than window units, they require about 50 percent more BTU ratings. Don't use BTU requirements for a window AC to choose a portable unit.
With a portable unit, 7,000 BTUs will cool about 150 square feet. Most portable are rated at about 10,000 BTUs, enough for a modest bedroom. When in doubt, buy more BTU-age than you think you need.
There are dozens of models, and a good buy today could be obsolete tomorrow. If you're interested, chances are you live in a condo or apartment. Ask your neighbors what they have and whether they recommend them.
Consumer Reports last did a comprehensive survey of portable AC units in the early '90s, and compared only three models last month. The publication made no real recommendations, determining that most portable ACs really are less efficient than window units. (Looking for a lot of feedback? Sears' Royal Sovereign model drew dozens of customer kudos and complaints, posted at www.sears.com (search for Royal Sovereign).
Consumer Reports' Web site also gives some excellent general advice on air conditioner operation: www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/heating-cooling-and-air/air-conditioners/expert-advice-and-tips-on-how-to-save-money-and-energy-on-air-conditioning/ overview/ 0706_tips-on-how-to-save-money-and-energy-on-air-condtioning_ov.htm. For the most up-to-date and largely unbiased evaluations of specific models, try the consumer comments at Sears.com, HomeDepot.com, Amazon.com and Target.com. This is true of any appliance.