Mobile broadband is really starting to take off. You have two options here: you can either opt for a laptop with SIM support built in or buy a laptop and add a ‘dongle’ from your favourite operator, which will slot happily into any USB port. Hewlett Packard’s 6730b fits into the former category, and Orange is giving it away if you take out a £45-per-month mobile broadband contract.
The contract itself provides you with unlimited data as long as you are in the UK, subject to the usual fair use policy (in this case it is 5GB of data per month). The contract ties you in for 24 months, which is a long time in the currently fast-moving world of mobile technology. The laptop without mobile broadband costs in the region of £800.
The laptop weighs 2.7kg so you may not want to carry it around all that often. Though of course the broadband will work as well at home as it does on the move; provided you have network coverage, that is.
The laptop is one of HP’s less stunning-looking models. Its 15.4-inch screen is sharp and its viewing angles are adequate but not outstanding. Its resolution of 1200 x 800 pixels is no surprise. The keyboard feels solid and there is no flex. Above the keyboard is a touch-sensitive area with a bar for controlling speaker volume and a mute button, as well as further touch buttons for adjusting settings and turning the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth on and off.
The touchpad incorporates a vertical scroller but not a horizontal one. In between its two buttons is a fingerprint scanner. Meanwhile, above the keyboard there is a webcam for those all-important video conferences.
Specifications are quite strong with an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 providing the main oomph. Windows Vista Business is pre-installed but there is a downgrade to Windows XP Professional in the box should you prefer to use that.
With the SIM housed under the battery, all four USB 2.0 ports are free for you to add peripherals. However the ports are in two pairs, one on the left and one on the right edge of the casing, and the pairs are quite close together. If your peripherals have large connectors you may not have access to all the ports at once.
Firewire and ExpressCard are also present, and there is a flash memory card slot for SD and compatible formats. VGA and S-video connectors are on the back edge. The optical drive supports LightScribe for writing your own CD designs to compatible media, and there is a 160GB hard drive.
Company: Hewlett Packard
Contact: 0800 079 4000