capsule review

HP Compaq nc2400

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At a Glance
  • Compaq nc2400

HP Compaq nc2400
Photograph: Chris Manners

HP's latest ultraportable, the HP Compaq nc2400 comes with a moderate $1649 price (as of 6/26/2006). This business-minded model should appeal to road warriors who need a laptop with long battery life--but it's no performance powerhouse.

Business users may find the nc2400's fingerprint reader appealing; the reader sits on the right edge of the handrest. Unlike other HP notebooks, this model eschews the familiar touchpad in favor of an eraserhead pointer, which sits in the center of the keyboard. The 12.1-inch wide-screen display looked nice, with good color and detail. Ports and connections--including a FireWire port, two USB 2.0 ports, and a PC Card slot--adorn the sides of the notebook. A gigabit ethernet port sits on the back. For connecting wirelessly, the nc2400 has both 802.11a/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The notebook lacks parallel and serial ports (common omissions on ultraportables), and includes only a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive, rather than a rewritable DVD drive. However, HP does offer an optional $149 docking station, which provides those missing ports along with three more USB 2.0 ports, an additional ethernet port, and an S-Video connection.

Despite the notebook's small size, the keyboard feels big and spacious, with a good key pitch. Its comfortable keyboard layout made typing easy.

Because of its manageable 3.6-pound weight (4.5 pounds with the AC adapter), the nc2400 should be easy to carry on the road. In our tests, the nc2400 chugged along for 4 hours and 52 minutes, a lengthy time that will appeal to hard-computing travelers who need to get a lot of mileage--or across the country--on one battery charge.

Unfortunately, the nc2400 didn't fare as well in our WorldBench 5 tests: Using an Intel 1.2-GHz Core Solo U1400 processor and 512MB of DDR2-533 SDRAM, it mustered a score of just 58, placing it at the bottom of the pack of all notebooks we've recently tested. Granted, the nc2400 will suffice for undemanding tasks like writing e-mail and Word documents, but with more demanding jobs such as video editing, you will definitely feel a performance pinch.

Despite its performance shortcomings, the nc2400 does have attributes that make it appealing, including its light weight, excellent battery life, and a great keyboard--all for a reasonable price. Just don't expect the notebook to power through lots of demanding apps.

Kalpana Ettenson

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At a Glance
  • Lightweight ultraportable offers a comfy keyboard and excellent battery life, but sluggish WorldBench performance.


    • Lightweight, with a nice widescreen


    • Sluggish WorldBench performance
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