There are one or two compromises with the keyboard though – the Tab, Caps Lock and left Shift keys are all smaller than they should be, and the backslash key is absolutely tiny. Likewise, all the function keys are miniscule. But these are compromises that I’d be willing to live with and despite size of the left Shift key, I didn’t miss it once when typing at speed. On the plus side, the Ctrl key is located at the bottom left of the keyboard where it should be and the cursor keys are dropped away from the main keyboard to facilitate easy access. Also, the right Shift, Return and Backspace keys are all large, as they should be.
I’m glad to say that HP favours trackpoints rather than touchpads, and the example on the nc2400 is very good. Once again, this is probably the best trackpoint that I’ve used outside of a ThinkPad. The trackpoint itself is constructed from a soft and tactile rubber that your finger just sticks to. The movement is very smooth and the speed increase as you push it harder is pleasantly progressive – accurate pointer manipulation is a breeze.
Below the Spacebar are two large, rubber selector buttons that again feel good to the touch, as well as being responsive. If there’s one thing missing, it’s a central scrolling button like the one seen on the ThinkPads – the result being that you need to use the scroll bar at the side of each window to move up and down through pages.
In the bottom right corner of the wrist rest there’s a fingerprint scanner. Biometric security is fast becoming a standard feature on notebooks and anything that adds more security is fine by me. You can replace existing passwords with your fingerprint, which should put an end to forgotten passwords. It’s also worth remembering that a lot of notebook users don’t password their machine at all, for fear of forgetting – since it’s unlikely that anyone will forget their finger, biometric security could potentially receive wider adoption.
On the right side of the chassis you’ll find a docking connector, a D-SUB output, a USB 2.0 port, headphone and microphone sockets, a four-pin FireWire port and a Type II PC Card slot. The latter is particularly important, since it allows you to use a 3G data card with the nc2400 – something that I can’t live without. That said, HP did tell me that it will be producing notebooks with integrated 3G/HSDPA modules towards the end of the year.