If you thought the extent of segmentation in the PC market amounted to desktop, laptop and tablet, then the existence of a form factor known as the ‘ultraportable’ will probably come as a surprise. Compact by name and by nature, HP’s Compaq nc2400 (pictured) is officially classed as such – too sturdy to be a subnotebook but certainly smaller and lighter than your average mobile PC.
Another surprise is that this is the first ultraportable to feature in HP’s portfolio. It definitely packs a lot of power into a small casing: literally in fact. The nc2400 is less than 25mm thin and has three battery options depending on whether you care for something lighter to carry (the device has a starting weight of 1.29kg) or one that will last a full working day. A useful touch is HP Fast Charge Technology, which takes just an hour and a half to charge the primary battery up to 90pc.
The keyboard isn’t noticeably smaller than standard laptops, although I found it a little awkward. The sacrifice instead has come with the loss of a trackpad in favour of a pointer located between the keys. Purely on personal preference, I reckon HP made the right call here. The pointer’s default setting is a touch on the slow side but again, I think this is a better option than to have the cursor whizzing around the screen.
Whatever the category of portable computer you choose, widescreen displays are here to stay and the nc2400’s 309mm (12.1in) screen serves a double purpose here. On the one hand it allows the housing to be small and neat, while on the other offering a decent viewing area for documents such as spreadsheets or Word files in reading layout format.
Our review model came with Windows XP Professional but HP promises that it will run the new Vista operating system no problem; in fact this is now the recommended OS on its website. The machine also came with a built-in DVD drive which added slightly to the weight but clearly makes it a more attractive option for the business traveller who may want some downtime by watching a movie, or burning a disc with digital photos.
With security at the forefront of many computer users minds – and if it’s not, it should be – the nc2400 has a feature that automatically prompts the user to create a backup disc in the event of a loss of data. There are also a host of additional security features that come with the machine.
The unit has Intel’s Centrino Mobile Technology and is running on the Core Solo Processor. Arguably its 30GB hard drive is a little on the small side, as is its basic memory configuration of 512MB, although the latter is expandable.
The ultraportable is available to buy now and a list of retailers is available at www.hp.com/ie/howtobuy.
Value for Money: ****
By Gordon Smith