Acer TravelMate 4150LMi
Dell Latitude D610
LG LW60 Express
MSI Megabook S260
MSI Megabook S270
Samsung M40 plus
Toshiba Tecra M3
How we tested
CPU -- Intel
The HP is one of the biggest notebook submitted, with a display big enough to satisfy most desktop users. At 2.84kg the charcoal grey HP is no lightweight, but given the features set this is in line with comparable notebooks.
It sports a solid Magnesium alloy case, but in spite of the stiff, flex-resistant display, it only takes a mild tap on the back to unsettle the image, but it would take rather excessive force before any damage would result.
The 15in widescreen display features backlighting and a native resolution of 1280 x 800 resulting in Windows text that is large and readable. However, the non-glare, non-reflective finish does introduce some "speckle" that can render the white on light blue text a little harder to read, which is in contrast to the highly-reflective displays of the LG for example.
Driving the display is an ATI Mobility Radeon X600 processor that undeniably has plenty of grunt, the HP had the highest score in 3Dmark 2001 and the third highest score in 3Dmark 2005 -- just pipped by the LG for second place.
The NC8230 is not quite as wide as the Samsung so we cannot criticise the lack of numeric keypad as there is simply not enough space. Instead HP located the speakers on either side of the keyboard. The speakers performed well, with surprisingly loud and rich audio quality -- arguably only eclipsed by the Samsung.
The keyboard is rather standard fare for a notebook with a row of special function keys along the very top including quick launch buttons, WLAN enable/disable and volume control. The HP features both a three-button trackpoint and a three-button touch pad. The third button in both cases activates horizontal and vertical scrolling via the pad or pointer, and the pad also has a vertical scroll area on the far right side.
The WLAN covers b, g, and a and while the LAN was inexplicably not working on our unit it apparently is a gigabit adaptor.
The HP has three USB2 ports and a Firewire port, we were surprised that the notebook also had a DB9 serial connector which is a rare breed nowadays but very useful when consoling into routers and the like.
The notebook only caters for SD memory sticks but to be fair, it is the most popular and widely prevalent form of memory for cameras and MP3 players. However, where many of the other vendors provided DVD burners the HP only has a DVD ROM CD-R/RW combo.
The HP's single memory expansion slot was unoccupied so the 512MB of DDR2 resides on the motherboard. It can be expanded to a maximum of 2GB.
At 1.73GHz, the CPU is clocked slightly below some of the other Intel-based units tested however it performed well in our tests. Unfortunately we were unable to run our business application benchmark on the HP -- we had a slight software problem that we were unable to resolve in time -- however the Content Creation application benchmarks were slightly below average.
The battery benchmark is based on the same test scripts as the business application benchmark and as a consequence we were unable to run our battery life tests however HP claim the 14.4V 4.8Ah battery is good for four hours and we can see no reason why the HP could not achieve this when compared it to similarly featured notebooks.
In winter the HP would keep your lap cosy and warm; its peak temperature of 38.9°C was the third highest measured.