Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Hewlett-Packard Australia Compaq nc6400
- Good performance, Exceptional battery life, Fingerprint reader.
- Fairly standard design.
The HP Compaq nc6400 performs well with exceptional battery life.
Price$ 2,499.00 (AUD)
Targeted at business users, the Hewlett-Packard Compaq nc6400 forgoes flashy design and high-end graphics capabilities to deliver excellent performance and exceptional battery life at a reasonable price point.
The nc6400 is a 1.83GHz Intel Centrino Duo T2400 based notebook with 512MB of DDR2 RAM (expandable to 4GB), an 80GB hard disk and a dual layer DVD±RW/±R optical drive. There are three USB 2.0 ports, a SmartCard slot, SD and MMC memory card reader, headphone/microphone ports and 15-pin D-sub output to connect an external monitor. Networking options include a dial up 56Kbps modem, a Broadcom NetXtreme Gigabit (10/100/1000Mbps) PCI Express Ethernet controller and an Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG 802.11 a/b/g WLAN. Bluetooth 2.0 and Infra-red wireless are also included.
The display is a 14.1in (diagonally) widescreen LCD with a maximum resolution of 1280 x 800 that easily handles office applications. The panel has an anti-glare finish rather than the increasingly popular glossy designs we have reviewed of late which is great for working under fluorescent office lights. The vertical viewing angle is reasonable, although it could have been better as colour shift occurs at around 35-40 degrees. There is no backlight bleeding and the colours are bright and vibrant.
The HP is also equipped with a biometric security fingerprint scanner which worked well. In addition to using the scanner to log in to windows, you can also register your fingerprints to replace any program where passwords are required for authentication. The included security management software worked well in this regard.
Like the Lenovo ThinkPad series, this notebook comes with a blue "pointstick" which can be used in place of a mouse. It is located in the middle of the keyboard and we found the default settings to be a little too sensitive. Slightly touching the pointing device sends it careening across the screen. We turned down the sensitivity but it was still over-sensitive and hard to use accurately. Compared to other notebooks with similar pointing devices, the "pointstick" was below par. The nc6400 also comes with a touchpad that includes scroll zones that make web navigation much easier. The mouse buttons are a little unusual as they are made from a rubberised material which we have not seen in many notebooks and offered very little resistance when pressed. We found the design to be quite functional although they did take some getting used to.
Aesthetically, the nc6400 exhibits nothing remarkable. Both the exterior and interior are finished in a gun metal grey plastic which extends to the bezel of the display. The keyboard is a slightly darker, charcoal colour and has an almost porous finish. We weren't particularly taken by the design as we found it plain and felt it lacked a level of sophistication often found in notebooks targeted at business users.
We tested the overall performance and it achieved a very respectable World Bench 5 score of 90, which is above average for a notebook at these specifications. We weren't expecting anything fabulous from the graphics processor in this unit as it is an ATI Mobility Radeon X1300 with 256MB of RAM, but it showed reasonable performance under 3DMark 2001 with a score of 9308. This is not suitable for playing modern games but should be more than adequate for older games or graphically demanding software such as image editing.
The HP Compaq nc6400 has a 55Whr six-cell lithium-ion battery which lasted 299 minutes during our MobileMark 2002 productivity test. When playing back DVDs we found this was reduced a little to 201 minutes. This is an excellent result and will be more than adequate for business use or watching the odd DVD.
The 2kg weight of the HP compares well and it is small enough to fit in a messenger bag or even under the arm. It is also fairly quiet - the only noise coming from the optical drive when in use, and we noticed no instances of excessive heat during our testing.
While the design does not make this notebook stand out from the crowd, the HP Compaq nc6400 is a good quality notebook at a reasonable price. The machine is not suited to sophisticated graphics work or high-end games, it did score well in our performance tests and offers quite impressive battery life.
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