capsule review

HP Compaq nx9420

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder HP Business Notebook nx9420

    PCWorld Rating

    This mobile workstation offers top performance and better-than-average battery life.

HP Compaq nx9420
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

HP's new flagship business portable has a 17-inch WXGA screen and weighs 7.4 pounds, so it ranks among the lightest notebooks in its category. If no other surface is available, the HP Compaq nx9420 feels perfectly comfortable perched on your lap, huge screen and all.

The nx9420's keyboard is terrific: Its mouse buttons are extremely comfortable because of their soft texture and ability to depress deeply. The separate numerical keypad is topped by a button that handily launches the Windows calculator.

The notebook's battery life is above average at 3 hours, and its speed is excellent. Equipped with the fastest of Intel's new dual processing chips (the 2.16-GHz Core Duo T2600) and 1GB of RAM, the nx9420 earned a WorldBench 5 score of 101, one of the highest marks we've ever recorded for a portable.

The nx9420's design is as elegant as its charcoal-colored case, with pale but readily discernible icons stenciled on top of the case to identify side connections, and with a plastic bottom sleeve to hold your business card.

Our $2399 (as of March 27, 2006) review unit included a smallish 80GB hard drive (100GB is the largest size available), a fixed DVD burner, a FireWire port, four USB ports, a front-mounted seven-in-one memory card slot, and a SmartCard reader. The nx9420 lacks the great sound and music buttons of the notebook it replaces, the 2-pounds-heavier Compaq nx9600. It also omits the nx9600's side connection for HP's xb2000 docking station with stereo speakers (though it does work with a different HP docking station that offers a modular bay and an ExpressCard slot.)

Still, with its superb combination of weight and a big screen, the nx9420 will probably soon have its own loyal fans among on-the-go professionals who need a great presentation notebook.

For several hundred dollars more, you can buy "business protection services" from HP; these include such things as the company's HP Smart Desktop Management Service (for protecting multivendor networked offices with data backup and restore), Symantec Anti-Virus software, patch management, and health checks. You can also get an extended warranty featuring accidental damage protection, including pickup, fix, and delivery and covering spills, drops, and so on.

Carla Thornton

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This mobile workstation offers top performance and better-than-average battery life.

    Pros

    • Great WorldBench performance

    Cons

    • Smallish hard drive
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.