HP Compaq nx7400 review
A well-built and attractive notebook for a reasonable price, but there's little in the way of extras
Review Date: 21 Jul 2006
Reviewed By: Dave Stevenson
Price when reviewed: (£939 inc VAT)
Some laptops were born to do business. Take the Dell Latitude D620, with its plentiful power, a great screen and comprehensive security options. You can also customise virtually every detail of it on Dell's website. The HP Compaq nx7400 has its fair share of professional credentials too: the sober styling, sensible 15.4in widescreen and comparatively low 2.6kg weight. But there's also the glossy finish on the screen, the 100GB hard disk and the lack of any real security features - all traits of a more consumer-oriented machine.
The biggest positive to the nx7400 is its superb build quality. While the keyboard isn't quite up to Lenovo's finest ThinkPad efforts, it's still incredibly solid and makes typing for hours as pleasant an experience as can be. The chassis is also beautifully constructed. It may not be the most stylish laptop around, but the midnight blue, matte finish is clean and understated. The dimensions are practical too: with the lid closed, the nx7400 is under 4cm thick and easily compact enough to pop into a bag.
Battery life is another obvious plus: under light use, the nx7400 ran for 4 hrs 24 mins, although the 1 hr 10 mins under intense use will be a drawback for those who want to get full use from their laptop on the road.
The glossy screen has a resolution of 1,280 x 800, although you can compromise on other areas of the specification and get a non-reflective 1,440 x 900 screen for less cash - part codes EY295ET and EY447ET, for example. While the reflective screen on our model (part code EY252ET) is good for looking at photos or watching films, it's a distraction in a brightly lit office environment. Reflections from lights and people moving around behind you quickly become diverting, and we can't help but wish that the nx7400 had the higher- resolution, non-reflective screen. Otherwise, there's little to complain about.
Due to the gloss finish, the panel appears to have a greater contrast range, which gives images greater impact. Films and photos look good, even if the screen doesn't show absolutely accurate colour linearity in our technical tests. There are other advantages to the EY252ET model too. For a start, it features a decently fast Core Duo processor, the 1.83GHz T2400, as well as 1GB of RAM, which added up to a final benchmark score of 1.02. In practice, word processing and email will barely cause it to stir, but if your requirements are more intensive - say, applying effects to a whole folder full of images or video editing - the nx7400 fits the bill perfectly. The only thing it won't be able to do is play modern 3D games with Intel's modest integrated graphics processor onboard.
There's a distinct ThinkPad feel to the nx7400, but HP's machine falls down significantly on security, particularly when compared to either Lenovo's machine or the Dell D620. While both of the latter come with fingerprint readers and TPM chips for convenience and hardware encryption, the nx7400 comes with neither. For home users, this isn't much of an inconvenience. But for serious business users, powerful encryption is a tool whose value shows if your laptop is ever stolen - lose the nx7400 and all the data contained on it will be there for the taking.
With a huge 100GB hard disk and a dual-layer DVD writer, there are plenty of options for storage and backup. Networking comes courtesy of Intel's 801.11a/b/g wireless, although Broadcom's integrated chip only caters for 10/100 Ethernet connections. Bluetooth comes as standard, though. Expansion options are just a little limited - three USB ports will prove too few if you want to adopt the nx7400 as your primary PC, and a memory card reader remains on the wish list.
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