- Slim, lightweight design
- good battery life.
- Moderate performance
- not all that inexpensive.
Compaq is playing the value-for-money card with the new Evo N150c, which is the least powerful and most affordable of the new Evo notebook range. It's aimed at people who want the convenience of a portable computer without paying a fortune for desktop-equivalent performance. It's not the cheapest notebook available, but the N150c does offer a good balance between price, portability and performance.
For your money you get a 800MHz Mobile Pentium III processor, 128MB of RAM, a 14.1in. TFT display, a 15GB hard drive and a DVD-ROM drive. Modem and Ethernet connections are also built-in, so you won't have to shell out separately for connectivity. Two USB ports, a standard serial port, a parallel port and a PS/2 connector complete the wired connectivity. As far as wireless connections are concerned, there's just an infra-red port -- this end of the market doesn't yet offer built-in 802.11b networking.
The display has a native resolution of 1,024 by 768, and is driven by a Trident CyberBlade 2x AGP graphics chipset, which shares 8MB of main memory for graphics. You can configure the chipset to use less system memory for graphics should you need it for applications. Although it's perfectly adequate for normal 2D work, the N150c isn't a 3D gaming machine by any stretch of the imagination.
The case design is neat and trim, measuring 30.9 by 24.8 by 34cm. The notebook itself weighs 2.7kg, so it's not going to break your back to carry around.
The Evo N150c has a 3,600mAh Li-ion battery, and the Mobile Pentium III processor features Intel's SpeedStep power saving technology. This combination delivers a BatteryMark score of 2 hours and 55 minutes, which is good for a machine in this price range.
The Evo N150c has built-in speakers and microphone, but you can attach external ones if you wish. The sockets for these are conveniently situated at the front of the notebook. The modem connector, one of the USB sockets and the PC Card slots are on the left-hand side, and the DVD-ROM drive is on the right. The DVD-ROM drive is a modular unit, so you can replace it with a CD-RW drive if necessary. Everything else is on the rear of the unit. There's no port replicator or docking station available, but this isn't meant to be a desktop replacement machine. You do get cables for both the modem and network connections, though.
Our review system came with Windows 2000 Professional installed, although you also have the option of specifying Windows ME. This configuration gives a Business Winstone 2001 score of 23.8, which is typical for a low-cost notebook but is available from cheaper units.
The Evo N150c isn't as feature-laden as some competing notebooks, but it's perfectly well equipped for normal business computing. Similarly, performance isn't outstanding, but is enough for business applications. However, we've seen low-cost notebooks with similar performance for less, such as the Sony PCG-FX301, which also has more connectivity options. However, this is a light and compact system with good battery life. Which machine you choose should depend on which of these factors is most important to you.