HP Notebook Hits Most Marks

Review: but nc2400 comes up short on performance

Hewlett-Packards HP Compaq nc2400 is an ultraportable business notebook that offers good battery life and a built-in optical drive—features that are bound to draw business travelers. However, a single-core processor means users in search of performance may want to look elsewhere.

The HP Compaq nc2400, which was released in May, weighs 3.6 pounds—slightly heavier than Lenovos ultraportable ThinkPad X60s but lighter than the new Lenovo 3000 V100—and sports a 12.1-inch widescreen display. With a six-cell battery, eWeek Labs test unit ran for 5 hours and 42 minutes. (Our review of the Lenovo 3000 V100 is on Page 40.)

The nc2400 measures 11.1 inches wide, 8.3 inches deep, 1 inch thick at the front and 1.2 inches thick in the back. Its slightly larger than other ultraportables we have tested, but we liked the nc2400s widescreen display, which was bright and has a 1,200-by-800 aspect ratio.

Our test unit included a 1.2GHz ULV (ultra-low-voltage) Intel Core Solo processor, 512MB of DDR2 (double data rate 2) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 40GB hard drive and a 12.1-inch WXGA display. This configuration costs $1,599.

While the nc2400s single-core processor will be fine for tasks such as word processing and e-mail, users with more intensive workloads should instead consider laptops with Intels Core Duo dual-core processor. The nc2400 also can be configured with Intels Celeron M processors, and it uses Intels GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 950 with up to 128MB of shared system memory.

The HP system provides good connectivity options—Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g wireless and Bluetooth connections, as well as a modem. However, unlike other ultraportables in its class—including the ThinkPad X60s—the nc2400 does not have integrated WWAN (wireless WAN) capabilities.

We also wish the notebook had more ports. The nc2400 has FireWire and two USB 2.0 ports, but the ThinkPad X60s has three USB ports. Our test unit did, however, come with a docking station that adds four USB ports and an S-video port (as well as $149 to the price).

The nc2400 features a full-size keyboard and a pointing stick mouse. The laptop also has an integrated fingerprint reader and a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) component that encrypts security keys and passwords. The laptop is equipped with HP ProtectTools, a portfolio of security features and tools.

Our nc2400 came equipped with a built-in DVD/CD-RW combo drive, something you wont find on many ultraportable laptops. This is especially handy for users who dont want to carry extra accessories with them when they travel.

We used the MobileMark 2005 benchmark from Business Applications Performance Corp. to test our HP system, which was configured with a six-cell battery. (The nc2400 also can be configured with a three-cell or nine-cell battery.) BAPCOs MobileMark 2005 tests notebook battery life and performance with a core office productivity test that models a mobile professionals workload.

The nc2400 scored a laudable 342 in MobileMark 2005 tests, or 5 hours and 20 minutes of battery life—a big plus for road warriors.

Users also will like that the nc2400 has many features to keep it working well when on the road. For example, HP Mobile Data Protection System 3D incorporates motion detection and helps protect data from shock and vibration. The laptop also sports a magnesium frame and full magnesium alloy enclosure, as well as a scratch-resistant surface to protect the keyboard. The laptop comes with a three-year warranty that includes 24/7 phone support.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

Evaluation Shortlist

Gateways E100-M

This ultraportables performance with a ULV Intel Core Solo processor is not as good as that of units with dual-core processors, but its lightweight and attractively priced (www.gateway.com)

Lenovo Groups ThinkPad X60s

This eWeek Labs Analysts Choice award winner has a winning combo: a great suite of ThinkVantage tools and more than 7 hours of battery life (www.lenovo.com)

Sonys Vaio S160

This laptop has one of the brightest screens weve seen, but it comes at a price—as much as $2,499 (www.sony.com)