The economical Compaq nx7400 brings a brand-new form factor to HP's corporate laptop family. Lighter than the nc8230, the nx7400 combines the benefits of a big 15.4-inch wide screen and Intel Core Duo processors with a low price (configurations start at $749). Missing from this equation are some higher-end features, such as biometric security (a fingerprint sensor), dedicated graphics cards, and wireless WAN, found on more expensive portables. But for employees who use their portables to perform mostly basic office tasks and who don't handle highly sensitive data, the HP Compaq nx7400 provides a decent combination of performance, battery life, and features.
The nx7400 weighs only 5.7 pounds, yet its sweeping 15.4-inch wide-aspect display stretches its measurements to 14.1 inches wide, 10.2 inches deep, and 1.4 inches thick. These specs straddle the line between midsize and thin-and-light laptops, making the system light enough to take on the occasional jaunt. The AC adapter adds another 0.8 pound. On average, competing laptops with the same size screens weigh a bit more than the nx7400. For example, the Lenovo 3000 N100 comes in at 6.1 pounds, while the TravelMate 4650 weighs 6.4 pounds.
Designwise, the nx7400 is a stripped-down version of the nc8230. Both feature a crisp 15.4-inch wide screen, and our nx7400 evaluation system shipped with a standard 1,280x800 native resolution and reflective coating that blocks out extra light, making colors appear especially vivid. Like its more expensive sibling, the nx7400 features a spacious keyboard flanked by two passable speakers, a broad rectangular touch pad with vertical scrolling functionality, and convenient extra buttons for controlling wireless connectivity and volume. However, the nx7400 lacks some of the nc8230's design highlights, such as a dedicated scroll button between the touch pad's two standard mouse buttons, a pointing stick with its own set of mouse buttons, and a button that links directly to help information. The nx7400 also omits some of the higher-end features, including a fingerprint sensor and a built-in WWAN card, that are present in pricier HP laptops such as the nc6400.
In keeping with its minimal price, the nx7400 features a fairly limited selection of ports, jacks, and slots: FireWire, VGA, docking, and three USB 2.0 ports; microphone and headphone jacks; and a lone Type II PC Card slot. Networking options include Ethernet, 56Kbps modem, and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi. Common connectors--a smart card slot, an S-Video-out port, and a flash card media reader--are conspicuously absent. HP also neglected to include a Trusted Platform Module chip for data security--not exactly surprising for a budget system such as this, though HP did include hard drive antishock protection. Our evaluation system came preloaded with the ubiquitous Windows XP Professional operating system, as well as a handful of utilities and disc manipulation programs--a typical software offering for a business laptop.