The nx7000 does appear to have a bit of an identity crisis though. Above the screen is the HP logo, but below the screen it says Compaq nx7000. Now everyone knows that HP bought Compaq a few years back, but it seems that someone in the notebook division is still a little confused. That said, it’s only recently that the iPaq pocket PCs started sporting HP branding, so maybe HP feels that having the Compaq name on notebooks is still beneficial.
At the top left corner of the keyboard area is a conspicuous power button that glows green when the unit is switched on. The front of the chassis also sports a green indicator when the notebook is on as well as for hard disk activity and mains connection. To the left of these lights you’ll find headphone and mic sockets, while to the right is the button that turns on Wi-Fi.
Since the nx7000 is based on an Intel Centrino specification, wireless networking is integrated. Pressing the Wi-Fi button turns on the wireless adapter and illuminates the blue light above it to remind you that it’s on.
In my opinion, making integrated wireless connectivity part of its mobile strategy is the best decision that Intel has made in years. There’s no doubt that wireless networking is going to be huge, and having it integrated into a notebook is a bit of a no brainer. You can already find Wi-Fi hotspots in all manner of places from airports to coffee bars, making life much easier for the mobile business user. But I honestly feel that more and more home users will be installing a wireless network once they realise how easy it is. With broadband connections becoming common place and the price of wireless ADSL routers dropping every day, it’s just a matter of time before we’re all sitting in our gardens checking our email on our laptops.
But the Centrino specification isn’t just about integrated wireless networking, it’s also about a truly mobile processor solution. In the past mobile processors were just cut down desktop chips, but with the Centrino standard Intel developed a chip specifically for the mobile market place. These new mobile CPUs don’t run as fast as their desktop counterparts, but most mobile users are far more interested in battery life than they are in raw power. The nx7000 has a 1.5GHz CPU inside it which is more than powerful enough for anything anyone is likely to use a machine like this for. The good news though, is that our battery rundown test turned in a time of over three and a half hours.
As well as the 1.5GHz processor, you’re also getting a hefty 512MB of memory and a 40GB hard disk which should keep most users happy for a good while. If you do find yourself needing to free up some hard disk space it won’t be too much of a problem. Mounted in the left hand side of the chassis is a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive, so you can offload data to CD-R whenever you need to.
Graphics are pretty well taken care of with the inclusion of an ATi Mobility Radeon 9200 chipset. This isn’t the latest Mobility Radeon chipset with the recently released 9600 superseding it, but the performance is still pretty good. The 3DMark results were commendable for a notebook, but to get a more hands on feel I installed Tomb Raider Angel Of Darkness onto the nx7000 and gave Lara a bit of a workout. Overall the nx7000 coped well although resolutions had to be kept down to keep the frame rate up. Trying to push things up to the 1,680 x 1,050 native resolution resulted in screen corruption in the menu before I even tried to start the game, but to be honest most cutting edge desktop systems will struggle at that kind of resolution.
Connectivity is well taken care of and at the rear you’ll find three USB ports, a FireWire port, a modem port, an Ethernet port, an S-Video output, a D-SUB connector and most surprisingly a parallel port. The right hand side of the case is quite barren apart from the power socket and an IrDA port, while the left side houses the optical drive and single PC Card slot. Another interesting feature is the SD card slot located at the front of the unit. This isn’t really surprising since HP has adopted SD as the storage medium for its iPaq range of PDAs, so it makes sense to have a corresponding slot in its notebooks. I have to say that being an iPaq user I would find this feature quite handy.
Overall performance is pretty good and the nx7000 should have no problem running anything that you’re likely to throw at it. The fact that it can also be used to play games will be seen as a big bonus for anyone wanting a notebook as their sole computer. As is always the case with a mobile solution, it won’t be as fast as a desktop system, but you really need to ask yourself if you would ever really take advantage of the extra power. And a notebook has the advantages of transportability and space saving.
The nx7000 is the best notebook computer I have seen in a long time, but as is usually the case in instances like this, all this quality comes at a price and this machine is far from cheap. With a retail price just under £2,000 you need to have pretty deep pockets to even consider the nx7000. That said, if you’ve got the money and need a fully featured mobile computer with a high-resolution display, you’d be hard pushed to find a better one than this.
The nx7000 is very expensive, there’s no hiding from that. But if you look past the asking price you’ll see a notebook that excels in almost every possible area.