HP Compaq nc6140
The nc6140 Notebook PC is HP's first laptop with WWAN capabilities, and it rounds out the company's lineup of business thin-and-lights, which includes the , the , and the nc6120 (see our "Down the line" feature for a detailed comparison of them). In addition to its integrated EV-DO cellular card, the nc6140 offers a nice design, a double-layer DVD burner, and endless connectors. Though the nc6140 lacks the performance power and long battery life of other WWAN laptops, such as the , it also costs a few hundred dollars less. If the ThinkPad is out of your price range, the nc6140 offers a second-best combination of features and performance, plus a lower price.
Measuring 12.9 inches wide, 10.8 inches deep, and 1.2 inches high, the black and gray HP Compaq nc6140 is big for a thin-and-light. At 5.9 pounds, it's also heavy for a thin-and-light, and frequent travelers may want to look for something lighter. The $2,299 ThinkPad Z60t weighs about a half-pound less than the HP, and the $2,166 thin-and-light Dell Latitude D610 weighs 5.34 pounds (though both the ThinkPad and the Dell have smaller screens). Plan to tote another 0.9 pound when you take along the nc6140's AC adapter.
The HP Compaq nc6140's solid if not stunning design will leave you well equipped to handle any basic business task. Its wide, comfortable keyboard provides particularly crisp feedback. The right edge of the standard-size touch pad has a strip for scrolling through documents and Web pages, and the bottom edges of both mouse buttons are slightly raised to help your fingers feel where the buttons end and the wrist rest begins. Though the nc6140 lacks external multimedia controls, six buttons above the keyboard let you adjust volume, turn wireless radio on and off, access the preloaded help application, and launch presentations at predetermined display settings. The nc6140's two speakers sound better than the average laptop's, offering good dimension if not a lot of bass.
While all HP Compaq nc6140 models ship with a 15-inch screen, our evaluation system included a high 1,400x1,050 native resolution that enables graphics to appear in fine detail but makes text a bit tiny. The WWAN antenna is integrated into the plastics above the display--a sturdier design than the Sony VAIO TX670P's, whose antenna sticks off to the side. After purchasing a WWAN account through Verizon (account prices vary but start at $59 per month), the nc6140's antenna and internal EV-DO card help you connect to the Net wherever cellular networks exist--that is, just about everywhere. However, beware that cellular data networks occasionally suffer from poky performance.
The HP Compaq nc6140 includes almost every connector available. Along with a built-in optical drive (our unit shipped with a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive), the right edge provides headphone, microphone, serial, and two USB 2.0 ports. Two more USB 2.0 ports are on the opposite edge, joined by two Type II PC Card slots plus VGA, four-pin FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet, and 56K modem ports. Parallel and S-Video-out ports sit on the back edge, while an IR port and a six-in-one flash media-card slot are on the front edge. Last but not least, a docking port lies underneath the laptop. About the only connectors missing from this list are an Express Card slot and S/PDIF audio.
HP preloaded our evaluation system with the Windows XP Professional operating system. The nc6140's software bundle is fairly typical for a business laptop; while it lacks a productivity suite, it does include Sonic's RecordNow 7 and DLA 4 and InterVideo's WinDVD Creator 2 for burning discs, as well as HP ProtectTools for managing the system's security settings.