Performance notebook PC roadtest



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1 April 2005 | 0

Business notebooks have evolved considerably in the year since ComputerScope last carried out its notebooks roadtest. Today you can get an infinitely more powerful machine for less than EUR2,500 whereas previously you could realistically expect to pay at least EUR3,000, the trade-off between portability and performance is less pronounced and wireless networking is fast becoming a standard option. If outright performance is what you need, then take a look at these latest Pentium 4 Mobile offerings:


HP: Compaq Evo N800




Processor: 1.7GHz Pentium 4-M
Memory: 256Mbyte
HDD: 30Gbyte
Screen: 15in (38cm)
Size (W x D x H): 32.8 x 26.7 x 3.6cm
Weight: 2.98kg
Battery Life: 4hr
Price: EUR2,129 ex-VAT
Hewlett Packard: +353 (0)1-6158200

The name Compaq disappeared last year into the behemoth that is Hewlett-Packard, but continues to live on as HP’s chosen brand for its range of notebooks.

HP’s Compaq Evo N800 is a solid notebook aimed clearly at desktop replacement. It is quite heavy at just under 3kg, sports a large 15in screen and the full complement of expansion slots you would expect to find on a desktop.

These include serial and parallel ports, two USB ports, a PC Card slot and a DVD drive. The specification sheet assured us that the hard disk was of 30Gbyte capacity, the computer itself would only admit to having 14Gbyte.

It comes in a stylish black and silver livery and has a detachable wireless module on the lid for wireless communication. Bottom Line: Good.

Maxdata: Pro 7100

Processor: 2GHz Mobile Pentium 4
Memory: 512Mbyte DDR RAM
HDD: 60Gbyte
Screen: 15in
Size (W x D x H): 32.5 x 26.5 x 3cm
Weight: 2.3kg
Price: EUR1,798 ex-VAT
MicroWarehouse: +353 (0)1-6160400

Powered by a mobile Pentium 4 1.8GHz processor, the Max Data Vision 7100X notebook is a sleek, silver and black addition to any corporate desk. The machine comes with 512Mbyte of RAM built-in, but this can be expanded 1024Mbyte, with two DIMM slots. Microsoft Windows XP Professional is the operating system supplied with this machine.

A number of connections are available to users — an IEEE 1394 port, two USB (one USB port on the rear of the machine, one on the side), an infrared data port, Ethernet and wireless communication.

There are a number of one-touch buttons, giving easy access to e-mail and Internet programs. Wireless communications can be activated by a single touch key, allowing workers to access their office network without wires, if the company supports this feature.

Users can take advantage of the combined DVD and CD-RW drive, but there is no built-in floppy drive included with the package. A hot-swap multifunction bay gives users the flexibility to change drives according to their needs.

The notebook may be aimed at the business user, but that doesn’t mean that it sacrifices multimedia functions. The 7100x comes with integrated nVidia Geforce 2 Go 200 32Mbyte AGP. Two integrated speakers located at the front of the machine produce adequate sound, no more than you could expect from a laptop. Bottom line: An attractive notebook with a good spec.

Iqon: Qompanion 9640

Processor: 3GHz Pentium 4-M hyper threading processor
Memory: 512Mbyte DDR RAM
HDD: 40Gbyte
Screen: 15in
Size (W x D x H): 33.5 x 28.5 x 4cm
Weight: 3.2kg
Battery Life: 2.4hr
Price: EUR1,499 ex-VAT
Iqon: +353 (0)42-9386100

Turn on this machine and you hear a loud noise that contrasts sharply with the silent Centrino you have just tested. This notebook needs some serious cooling. It’s got a 3GHz Pentium 4 hyper threading processor which makes it a beast of a machine, but one that should stay in its cage.

As such, it is probably more correct to call this one a luggable than a portable — you can move it easily from A to B, but you wouldn’t want to do it too often. For one thing, it’s heavy. A sturdy 3.2kg. For another, the processor is not of the mobile variety so the battery life won’t last very long if you use it away from the mains.

Having said that, it has a good 15in screen, a rewritable CD-Rom/DVD combo and a neat trackpad mouse with two paddles. Connectivity comprises a built-in modem, four USB ports, a Firewire slot and a PC Card slot. Bottom Line: Loads of power in both senses of the word. Leave it at work.

Dell: Latitude D800

Processor: 1.6GHz Pentium 4-M
Memory: 256Mbyte RAM
HDD: 20Gbyte
Screen: 15.4in
Size (W x D x H): 36 x 27 x 3.9
Weight: 3.17kg
Battery Life:
Price: EUR2279 ex-VAT
Dell: 1850-664656 (Ireland only)

The Latitude D800 is nothing less than a beast of a machine. Powered by the Centrino and boasting a ridiculous amount of goodies onboard, the D800 is quite simply in a class of its own.

Weighing in at a hefty 3.17kg, this notebook is unlikely to be taken out on the road too often, but, other than this minor flaw, the Latitude has so much to recommend about it that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Coming with an impressive looking 15.4in screen, the D800 also has an nVidia GeForce 4 4200 high performance graphics controller with a choice of either 32Mbyte or 64Mbyte DDR video memory, TouchPad and PointStick pointing devices and a stylish Moonlight Silver coloured casing.

The Latitude D800 also has a wide range of connectivity options including parallel, serial, VGA, S-video out, two USB 2.0 ports, an IEEE 1394 port, and a PCX card slot. The notebook includes an integrated Smartcard Reader, an internal modem and Mini-PCI Wireless 802.11 card and a ‘smart’ Advanced Lithium Ion 9 cell battery pack.As with all Dell models, the Latitude can be configured with different drives. Included on the test model was a DVD-ROM drive, but customers can choose between a 24x CD-ROM drive, a CD-RW, 8x DVD-ROM drive, or a CD-RW/DVD combo. Optional accessories for the Latitude D800 includes integrated Bluetooth wireless technology.

Overall, there really is little to complain about with this notebook. It may be a little top heavy, but other than that, this is a great machine. Bottom Line: This Latitude has plenty of attitude.


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