We began looking for a machine with appropriate specs. For the screen, we wanted 15" SXGA+ (1400x1050), since XGA (1024x768) would be much too small and UXGA (1600x1200) could be eye-straining. The graphics adapter was going to be ATI Mobility Radeon 9600/9700 with 128 MB VRAM, since my year old lappy (Acer Travelmate 800) had already 64 MB VRAM and I thought that this one should have more. I also added my own requirements to the list: excellent keyboard (cutting alternatives to HP, Dell, and IBM; I only like their layout), good and prompt service (again these three), excellent speakers (cutting it down to HP and Dell), and a good screen (again these two, IBM's FlexView has a rather slow response rate). Dell didn't offer 4:3 screens for their top models and had outpriced them anyway, and thus it came down to HP. We were lucky in that HP had revamped the top of their nc/nw-line in Europe in mid-June, releasing two new models to the nw8000 model line and one new to the nc8000 line. One model of the nw8000 line (DU425EA) was a perfect fit to our needs, having all we had wished: Dothan 745 (1.8 GHz), 7200 rpm 60 GB hard disk, ATI Mobility Fire GL T2 with 128 MB VRAM, and a SXGA+ screen (1400x1050). Moreover, it was very competitively priced compared to other new nc/nw8000 models. It took us just one day to decide to buy this computer. Its specifications are below:
HP Compaq nw8000
Model Number: DU425EA
Localization: #AK8 (Finnish/Swedish)
Operating System Installed: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
Processor: Intel® Pentium® M 1.80 GHz (Dothan 745)
Chipset: Intel® 855PM Chipset with 400MHz processor side bus and enhanced SpeedStep™ Technology
Standard Memory: 512 MB (1x512 MB) (333 MHz PC-2700)
Internal Hard Disk Drive: 60 GB 7200 rpm (Hitachi Travelstar 7K60)
Fixed Optical Drive: DVD/CD-RW drive
External I/O Ports: 1 Secure digital (SD) slot, 2 USB 2.0, 1 1394 (firewire), serial, parallel, 1 S-video out, 1 VGA, 1 RJ-45/RJ-11, 1 Infra Red, 1 Audio in/out, 1 Docking connector
Video adapter: ATI® Mobility™ Fire GL T2 (= Mobility Radeon 9600 /w 128 MB VRAM)
Display: 15-in diagonal (1400x1050) SXGA+ TFT with 16 million colors
Mouse/Pointing Device: Dual pointing devices: touch pad and pointing stick
Modem: 56 K
Network interface: Integrated 10/100/1000 NIC
Wireless Technologies: Wireless LAN 802.11b/g Mini PCI card, Bluetooth
Power supply type: External 65 Watt power adapter
Battery: 8 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
Dimensions (w x d x h): 326 x 275 x 41 mm
Weight: 2.9 kg
Warranty: 3-Year world-wide standard (retrieve, repair, and return by HP; repair time 2 days)
Price: 2430 euros (incl. VAT) = $2920
The delivery of the system took just 1 business day. We ordered the machine on Thursday afternoon, and got it Friday afternoon. Basically, the wholesaler (GNT Finland) sent the computer to the retailer (Mikromaja) from their warehouse. A quick delivery is a plus when you pick a reseller model from a large brand, compared to ordering a custom built laptop from a small manufacturer.
The computer was shipped with the battery detached and empty, apprarently to avoid electrical damages during shipping. The operating system was preinstalled, and the installation was completed when the computer was turned on. Overall, it took about 30 minutes to get the system ready to go.
Then to the tests:
3DMark 03: 2646 with the default Fire GL drivers and default settings. The result is just what we expected, and good enough for my brother's use.
Battery life: I tested battery life by playing DVDs until a full battery run out. In the test, the battery lasted 3 hours 25 minutes, which more than double of what Adam from PCTorque got with Acer Ferrari. You can easily watch one or two movies with one battery. If you plugged a second battery into the multibay, the power would be enough for 7 hours of DVD playback.
Then other impressions after using the computer. I compared the nw8000 with two older computers: Acer Travelmate 800 (1 year old; my work computer) and HP Omnibook xt6050 (2 years old; my bro's old work computer). Acer Travelmate 8000 and Ferrari series (and some Aspire series too) use the same chassis as Travelmate 800.
Screen: The screen is sharp and bright, and it has got no dead pixels. Viewing angles are good, although not as good as in some external LCD monitors. It beats Acer Travelmate's SXGA+ screen, though.
Keyboard and Pointing Devices: The keyboard layout is great and it is quiet to type. The touch pad is always active, but it is hard to accidentally touch it, because its surface is much below the surface of the computer. It does not click on tapping as many touch pads do (I always disable the property). Great innovations!
Noise: The computer is very quiet. Normally, it is dead silent. Even when the fan kicks on, it does not increase noise remarkably. The fan is much quieter than in Acer Travelmate 800 and HP Omnibook xt6050.
Heating: During use, the computer heats somewhat both in the bottom and under the right palm. However, the heating is totally comfortable, and nowhere near the insane levels that Acer Travelmate 800 can achieve. Many people might not notice it. It's a good idea from HP engineers to put the most heating components under the right palm, because your right hand is often on the mouse, especially during gaming.
Optical Drive: I also tested if the optical drive would noticeably vibrate during disc spinning. I didn't notice very much anything. The drive is also very silent. The drive is much better than that of Acer Travelmate 800, which vibrates heavily when spinning discs.
Speakers: The speakers have 2-watt RMS output power, which makes them as loud as most external PC speakers. I didn't test how loud they go, but loud enough for any use I could concieve for a laptop. Their frequency response is 20 Hz - 20 kHz, i.e. you can get out a good amount of bass frequencies, too.
Pictures: There are a dozen pics with HP Compaq nw8000 (in the middle in the pictures), Acer Travelmate 800 LCi, and HP Omnibook xt6050. You can find them by clicking the links below. They are 150-350k in size each.
1. Front: Lid Open (Picture with Flash / No Flash), Lid Closed (No Angle, Small Angle)
2. Back: Lid open
3. Left: Lid Open, Lid Closed (No Angle, Small Angle)
4. Right: Lid Open
5. Keyboard: HP Compaq nw8000, Acer Travelmate 800, HP Omnibook xt6050
HP Compaq nw8000 is slightly thicker than the two other computer but otherwise about the same size as them. In Width x Depth dimensions, Acer seems to be slightly larger than it. Omnibook is the smallest of the trio. However, I would say that in practice each computer is almost the same size. You can see what the computer looks like in the pics.
Build Quality: I tested also if pressing the back of the lid would cause distortions in the screen. HP Compaq nw8000 passed the test without problems, but both Acer Travelmate 800 and HP Omnibook xt6050 suffered from distortions. Our friend also commented positively about the build quality.
Video Card Drivers: Left the only negative thing last. We tested the computer with 3D Studio Max 5. The default Fire GL drivers (that came with the system) caused strange visual errors but updating to newer ones fixed the problem. Hadn't ATI tested their drivers with 3D Studio Max or is it something related to nw8000 and HP? Well, the talk about ATI having driver problems wasn't bogus after all.
Accessories: We bought Logitech MX510 and Targus Notebook Backpack. The former was a natural choice for an optical mouse without batteries. The latter proved to be a good choice too. The most positive thing about the backpack is that it doesn't look like a computer carrying case but a regular backpack. We packed it with the laptop, 2 external 3.5" hard drives, a hub and their power supplies, and everything fitted in easily! The backpack is also much easier to carry than normal cases with all those stuff in.
We couldn't be happier with this computer. It promised everything we needed in one reseller model and delivered it. No need to upgrade any of the components. Even the standard 512 MB memory is in one module, leaving the other memory slot free. This allows us to later plug in another 512 MB or 1024 MB memory. I was most worried about heating, noise, size, looks, and DVD playback after reading these forums (nc8000 threads), but none of them was an issue. The fast delivery time still amazes me. It's good that we have such a good wholesaler as GNT here in Finland.