HP Compaq nc6120 review

17 Feb 2006

Superb battery life, plenty of features and a solid chassis make this a great business choice, particularly at this price

Price when reviewed: 
740(£870 inc VAT)
5

While the Lenovo takes the Labs Winner award this month, no single notebook is ideal for every business. HP's nc6120 offers a better warranty and longer battery life, which could seal the deal for some.

With an overall 2D benchmark score of 0.80, the nc6120 is one of the best in terms of performance. This is due to the 1.86GHz Pentium M 750, and there's a spare socket to add to the 512MB of memory. An 80GB hard disk is generous, and backups can be made using the dual-layer DVD writer.

The nc6120 shares a similar chassis to HP's Labs-winning nx6125, but with the notable omission of a fingerprint reader. HP's ProtectTools utility is still included to give access to BIOS settings and passwords through Windows.

Another strength is the excellent keyboard, which has a full complement of keys that are well arranged. A shortcut button for quickly enabling the VGA output is handy, while volume controls and a Wi-Fi power button are useful too. Plus, nothing else on test comes close to the loud speakers.

The chassis is sturdily built and the 15in XGA TFT has enough protection from the lid. The screen itself is a little dim towards the top edge, which means colours aren't as bright and vibrant as on the Toshiba or Sony.

Communications are handled by the Intel 802.11b/g radio. But while there's infrared, note the absence of Bluetooth. On the front sits a card reader for most of the main media types, including xD-Picture cards. The nc6120 can also accept two Type II PC Cards or one Type III card.

Battery life is superb, topping the class with a light-use lifetime of nearly five hours. It lasted only an hour-and-a-half under intensive conditions, but general use will see far longer times than this.

HP is the only manufacturer to offer an on-site warranty as standard, albeit only for one year. Another two years of return-to-base support complete the cover, but it's worth noting that HP's notebook division received a Highly Commended award in our recent Reliability & Service Survey, so you can be confident in your purchase.

Since HP doesn't sell direct, there aren't a great deal of services on offer compared to Dell's build-to-order system. But, if you don't need a bespoke disk image and are happy to go without Bluetooth, the HP is great value for money.