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HP Compaq Business Notebook nc8230 review: HP Compaq Business Notebook nc8230

Our $2,105 nc8230 test configuration featured a middling selection of components, including a 2GHz Pentium M processor; a 60GB, 5,400rpm hard drive; 1GB of swift 533MHz memory; and an ATI Mobility Radeon X600 graphics chip with 64MB of dedicated memory. On CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, the nc8230 delivered solid though not mind-blowing performance. It scored about even with the $2,299 ThinkPad Z60m but considerably behind the $1,149 TravelMate 4650. That said, the nc8230 should offer plenty of power for all but the most resource-hogging corporate applications. During two weeks of use that included video editing, spreadsheet computations, and 3D simulations, the nc8230 never got bogged down or crashed.

Though its case is too big for frequent fliers, the nc8230's battery life was impressive, lasting 4 hours, 25 minutes on a charge. The TravelMate lasted slightly more than 4 hours, while the ThinkPad Z60m's massive battery lasted 5 hours, 43 minutes. Long-distance travelers will be disappointed that the nc8230 lacks the option to swap the optical drive for a second battery, though HP does offer a $150, one-pound secondary travel battery that the company claims can add 4 hours of computing time.

HP stands behind the nc8230 with a traditional three-year warranty that's two years longer than the coverage Acer and Lenovo provide; adding a fourth year costs $100, while three years of onsite service costs $150. The company provides an easy-to-navigate Web site chock-full of downloads, tips, and troubleshooting, and a very helpful user forum to swap horror stories and help. If you need to communicate with a technician, the best bet is to use HP's chat room, but the company also has a toll-free, 24-hour support line and promises next-day answers to e-mail queries.

Mobile application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2005 performance rating

Battery life
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2005 battery life in minutes

Find out more about how we test Windows notebooks.

System configurations:
Acer TravelMate 4650
Windows XP Pro; 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 533MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS 910GML Express 128MB; Seagate ST9100822A 100GB 5,400rpm

HP Compaq nc8230
Windows XP Pro; 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 400MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon X600 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AH PL 60GB

Lenovo ThinkPad z60m
Windows XP Pro; 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760; 1GB DDR2 PC4200 SDRAM 533MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon X600 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 100GB 5,400rpm

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