HP – Compaq nc6400 review

secure business laptop with long battery life
Photo of HP – Compaq nc6400
£825 + VAT

Part of HP’s extensive line-up of business notebooks, the Compaq nc6400 (RM100ET) is a well built, well featured laptop offering good performance and – very importantly for a business machine – a good deal of integrated security, including a fingerprint reader.

HP has been busy updating its business notebooks to make them thinner and lighter, and the nc6400 is a good example of this policy, with a high build quality throughout. Measuring 330 x 241 x 35mm and weighing in at just over 2kg, it is an ideal tool for the mobile exec to carry around all day.

There’s plenty of grunt to sort out the everyday office apps too. At the heart of the Compaq nc6400 lies an Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 processor clocked at 1.83GHz, with a FSB of 667MHz and 2MB of L2 cache, all of which gives a healthy SYSmark score of 200.

This isn’t the only choice of CPU, as the nc6400 product line includes a number of options, both slower and faster, depending on whether you want more performance or to cut down on the cost. Backing up the CPU is a single 1GB DDR2 memory module sitting in one of the two SO-DIMM slots. The two slots combined support a maximum of 4GB of memory.

The graphics are provided by Intel’s integrated GMA950, part of the i945GM chipset, and can use up to 224MB of system memory which is perfectly adequate for office use. This outputs to a really good 14.1-inch WXGA screen with a 1,280 pixel by 800 pixel resolution. Despite its lack of coating this display is very bright, provides clear, sharp images and is a joy to use.

Another plus point is the keyboard. The Compaq nc6400′s full-size keyboard is very well put together, with no noticeable flex to the bed, and the keys allow for fast and accurate typing. As well as a trackpad (complete with scrolling bar) there is a trackpoint embedded in the keyboard and as a result you get two sets of mouse buttons.

For storage there is a 5,400rpm, 80GB Hitachi hard drive, and to help in backing up data there is a dual format, dual layer DVD burner. The front of the chassis is home to a SD/MMC card reader and you also get a PC Card slot. Other ports include three USB 2.0 ports, VGA and S-Video out but surprisingly no Firewire port.

When it comes to connectivity, there’s not much the Compaq nc6400 can’t connect to; 802.11a/b/g wireless and Bluetooth, Gigabit LAN, 56Kbps modem and it also supports 3G Broadband Wireless, available as an extra.

From an IT manger’s as well as a mobile business user’s standpoint, one of the best features of the Compaq nc6400 is the embedded security. On top of the right-hand wrist pad there is a fingerprint reader which is controlled by HP’s own ProtectTool software suite and, when used in conjunction with the Smartcard reader, you have a pretty near foolproof security system. If that lot isn’t enough the system also has a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) security chip embedded in the motherboard.

As with all the best business notebooks available at the moment, battery life is very good. Running MobileMark 05′s productivity test with all the power saving measures turned off, the nc6400 still managed to last a very creditable five and a half hours.

HP provides a three year pick-up and return warranty with the Compaq nc6400, but it would be good to see HP offering an on-site service as standard (it’s only available as upgrade) as many of its competitors do.

Company: HP

Contact: 0845 270 4222

A very well built and feature-rich laptop which pulls together good performance and great battery life for a decent price. The icing on the cake is the built-in security that HP has added to the nc6400.