HP Compaq Business Notebook nc4010 review: HP Compaq Business Notebook nc4010

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The Good Solid performance; lightweight design; comfortable keyboard; touch pad and pointing stick; configurable.

The Bad Very limited battery life.

The Bottom Line The HP Compaq Business Notebook nc4010 has satisfying features and performance, but it lacks the battery life to support a true road warrior.

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7.1 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 4
  • Support 8

HP Compaq Business Notebook nc4010

HP Compaq's Business Notebook nc4010, one of the company's two ultraportable business laptops, demonstrates the utmost efficiency in case design. The nc4010, which starts at $1,685 as of October 2004, crams a nearly full-size keyboard, a 12.1-inch display, a touch pad and a pointing stick, plus plenty of ports into a petite and lightweight case. The system made quick work of some stiff competition in CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, besting other prime-time corporate ultraportable laptops, including the Dell Latitude D400 and the IBM ThinkPad X31. The nc4010's fatal flaw, however, is a skimpy battery life: it lasted just 168 minutes in our Labs' drain tests. As a result, despite its many virtues, we can't easily recommend the nc4010 to corporate travelers who need a laptop that'll go the distance on the road.

Minimalism dominates the nc4010's design. The case weighs 3.7 pounds and measures a modest 1.1 inches high, 11 inches wide, and 9.2 inches deep--roughly the same size and weight as both the Dell Latitude D400 and the IBM ThinkPad X31. Yet the sturdily built nc4010 somehow squeezes in a comfortably wide keyboard in addition to a touch pad and a pointing stick, each with its own dedicated pair of mouse buttons. Also featured are a decently sized, 12.1-inch XGA screen and six handy buttons that control the volume and quickly launch applications. Port-and-slot highlights include S-Video out, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports, and a Secure Digital card slot.

The nc4010 is somewhat configurable. Among the fairly average components you can choose are a Pentium M processor running from 1.4GHz to 1.7GHz, 256MB to 1GB of average-caliber 266MHz SDRAM, and a slower, 4,200rpm 30GB hard drive or a faster 5,400rpm drive with a capacity of 40GB, 60GB, or 80GB. This laptop also features a choice of Wi-Fi flavors and Bluetooth; the slightly less expensive nc4000, on the other hand, lacks a built-in wireless option altogether and offers slightly lower-end components. Like most laptops in this class, the nc4010 lacks an internal optical drive, but you can choose from a long list of external drives (though there's no multiformat DVD drive available). Some of the system's parts remain nonnegotiable, including the cost-cutting ATI Mobility Radeon IGP graphics chip, which borrows up to 32MB of video RAM from main memory, and the 12.1-inch display. The laptop comes preloaded with Microsoft Windows XP Professional.

We tested the nc4010 configured with a mixed bag of components: a 1.7GHz PM processor, 512MB of memory, and a 4,200rpm 40GB hard drive. It ran through CNET Labs' test suite much faster than the Dell Latitude D400 or the IBM ThinkPad X31. But the underdog systems got the last laugh in our Labs' battery-drain tests: while the nc4010 endured a mere 168 minutes--barely long enough to watch a movie on a plane--the Latitude D400 and the ThinkPad X31 lasted a respective 220 and 277 minutes.

Like most corporate notebook manufacturers, HP backs the nc4010 with a long, three-year warranty on parts and labor. Toll-free telephone support is available around-the-clock. HP provides big corporations with its Intelligent Manageability application, which helps IS managers remotely track and upgrade countless computers, as well as dozens of other optional support benefits, including onsite, next-business-day coverage both in the United States and abroad and accidental damage protection. Customers can get a tech rep online anytime by initiating a Web chat through the company's support Web site, and the site's customer forums are another excellent resource.

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