Micro Express NP1620A
An attractive tritone notebook with a 14.1-inch screen and reasonable weight of 6.4 pounds, the NP1620A markedly outperformed most other 1.6-GHz/600-MHz Pentium M-equipped notebooks in our speed tests. A partial explanation: Our test unit came with 1GB of RAM--twice the amount we usually see in a notebook. The NP1620A earned a PC WorldBench 4 score of 137, 8 points higher than a Polywell Polynote 3015N with the same CPU and amount of RAM, and a little over 8 percent better than the average score of 125 for similar models with 512MB of memory.
Our only beef with the NP1620A's keyboard relates to the layout of the <Page Up> and <Page Down> keys. They're placed horizontally (instead of the more common vertical arrangement), and the <Page Down> key is to the left of the <Page Up> key--the least intuitive way to arrange them. But Micro Express deserves kudos for the way it set up the three programmable shortcut keys. The first time you press a shortcut, it launches the configuration utility so you don't have to search for it on the Programs list or in the System Tray.
The NP1620A's battery life was unimpressive for a Pentium M notebook. The long, thin power pack lasted just 2 hours and 50 minutes on one charge; that's half the life of batteries on some notebooks with the same class of processor.
The NP1620A accommodates upgradable and is nicely appointed, though its single-purpose, SD card reader is a step down from a five-in-one or six-in-one media card reader. Another minor annoyance: We had to press the spring-loaded PC Card release several times before it latched into place. Our unit carried an internal 802.11g wireless adapter with an external switch. FireWire and TV-out ports top the list of connections. A fixed DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive sits on the notebook's left side.
The NP1620A ships with no printed documentation besides a quick-start sheet; but the electronic manual is thorough and easy to search, and it can be copied from its CD onto the hard drive.
A price of under $1500 is good for a speedy notebook with 1GB of RAM. We don't know whether its performance would hold up, but the NP1620A might be even more attractive with 512MB of RAM and a price closer to $1200.
This slim, smart-looking, and lightweight notebook provides a lot of power at a reasonable price.
Micro Express NP1620A