HP Compaq's nx9010 may not be the slimmest or the fastest laptop on the block, but it's relatively inexpensive, comfortable to use, and attractive and comes in a rainbow of configurations. Sadly, the shared-memory graphics architecture makes it useless as a gaming platform and hurts the notebook's overall test scores. Still, the nx9010 is more than adequate for everyday business tasks and an affordable option for IT departments to fill out those portions of their notebook fleet for which performance isn't critical.
No shy wallflower of a notebook, the silver-and-gray nx9010 is a cumbersome travel companion, with the sizable dimensions of 8.5 pounds, 1.93 inches thick, 10.72 inches deep, and 12.96 inches wide. But we're talking about a budget notebook that trades size for cost, and if you're doing most of your work at a desk, who cares if it's not a svelte travel machine? (Note: CNET includes the optical drive and the AC adapter in its travel weight calculations; HP Compaq quotes the weight without them.)
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Exterior buttons on the front of the nx9010 let you control the notebook's volume.
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We like the silky feel of the nx9010's touchpad.
We like the nx9010's ergonomics. The keyboard has a nice feel, and the layout suffers none of those undersize keys that drive touch typists crazy. We also like the silky feel of the nx9010's touchpad (with scroll area) and the stiffness of the selection buttons better than their equivalents on HP Compaq's more expensive nc6000 and nc8000 notebooks. However, the nx9010 lacks the eraser-head control those units offer.
The nx9010 runs very cool, blowing heat out a thermal port on the left side of the unit to keep your lap sweat-free. Alas, the notebook's sound is mediocre--despite a JBL logo on the deck of the unit. Of course, weak sound is the norm on notebooks, but we'd have had more fun during our listening tests with better bass response.
You'll find the usual assortment of connectors onboard the nx9010: on the front, an infrared port and wireless on/off switch; on the right, an audio mute button and volume controls; on the left, a mini-FireWire and dual Type II PC Card slots, and a v.92 modem port; and on the back, an AC power jack, dual USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100 Ethernet port, a parallel port, and VGA and S-Video outputs.
The nx9010 comes in more flavors than you'll find at Baskin-Robbins. Preconfigured models start at a mere $949, or you can configure your own. Processors range from a 2GHz Celeron to a 3.06GHz Mobile Pentium, but Pentium Ms are not available. You can order your machine with up to 1GB of memory and a 5,400rpm hard drive ranging in capacity from 20GB to 80GB. Displays span from a modest 14.1-inch, 1,024x768-resolution unit to a 15-inch screen with a resolution of 1,600x1,200 and a wide viewing angle. Unfortunately, your only graphics option is an ATI IGP 345M, which uses a shared memory architecture (up to 128MB of main memory is borrowed from your system, draining its resources).
Unlike HP's pricier nc8000 series, the nx9010 has no modular bay; however, it does offer old-schoolers both an integrated floppy drive and a choice between a DVD+RW, CD-RW/DVD combo, DVD-ROM, or CD-ROM drive. Wireless options include 802.11b or g, and a $149, half-size port replicator is available.