The new Compaq nc2400 is decidedly cute for a ‘boring’ business ultraportable. And with a screen that’s only 12.1 inches wide and a weight of just 1.3kg it’s almost pocketable too. Despite being small, it’s very solid and well built, although the screen can flex just a little too much for our liking – don’t drop it on its lid.
What really impressed us was how, despite staying so small, it remains practical to use. The keys are mostly full sized, well laid out and, though a little stiff, comfortable to use. The screen is bright, clear and well lit. It’s the first notebook we’ve seen without a trackpad, though, so nipple-phobic mouse users would do well to buy a USB mini mouse companion. The speakers get quite loud but are very tinny.
HP has really packed in the features too. The DVD writer supports both dual layer discs and DVD-RAM. There’s a finger print reader and a TrustedPlatform Module (TPM) for ultra-secure hardware encoding and security. Networking options boast 802.11a/b/g WiFi, Bluetooth 2, Gigabit Ethernet and there’s a Type I/II PC Card slot (a Smart Card reader is optional). There are only two USB 2 ports, but mini FireWire is included.
Under the bonnet is 1GB of RAM and a 60GB hard disk. However, don’t expect much oomph from the 1.2GHz Core Solo processor: it scored just 0.52 in our benchmarks. This is 48 percent slower than our reference PC and while you won’t have any performance issues with mundane office tasks, a multitasking score of just 0.40 is rather low.
But there is an upside to the low power. The six-cell battery ran our intensive test for an impressive four hours and 40 minutes before dying. It lasted six hours 22 minutes in our light-use test, which isn’t quite a full working day, but HP will be offering a 9-cell battery for it soon.
So far it’s a great little business notebook but it comes at a very hefty price. At three and a half grand it’s almost as much as Sony’s deluxe VGN-TX27GP/B (see A-List) and even more than last month’s Labs Winning business ultraportable, Lenovo’s X60 (September 2006, page 77). The latter offers a better keyboard, battery, self-support features and a dual core processor. However, it has no integral DVD writer and weighs 400g more. The three year warranty is the same duration but Lenovo’s is collect and return rather than HP’s return to base. As such we recommend road warrior business folk and traveling typists stick with the X60. But if that’s too heavy, then this is a good bet too.