I do a lot of Maya, Photoshop, and After Effects work, and I needed something that'd do all that while I'm on the road. I chose the HP Compaq nw8440 and it arrived yesterday. I've only spent a few hours messing around with it but so far I'm very impressed. Specs as it shipped are 2.0Ghz Core Duo, 1GB 533MHz RAM, 1650x1050 LCD (which is the one I was shopping for), 80GB 5400rpm HDD, and a 256MB FireGL v5200. I ordered it from TigerDirect via Amazon.com... This is my first PC notebook (and something like my 15th PC).
Here are my first thoughts and observations: It's certainly lighter than I expected it to be- it doesn't feel like it could weigh much more than my 12" iBook G4, which was my previous mobile computer. The AC adapter isn't as big as I expected it to be either- bottom line is that it all fits nicely into the laptop bag that I already had, which is great.
The LCD is nice. It's got good contrast and good color saturation. There's a small amount of light leakage at the bottom edge (fades off at maybe 5 pixels in height), but only noticeable from certain angles- and not noticeable at all unless I'm looking at a black screen, so it's certainly not something that'll interfere with my productivity. No dead pixels that I've noticed yet- Definitely a few notches up from the Powerbook and iBook screens that I've used (the older ones were a little dim with poor viewing angles). I haven't actually used it to do any work yet, so please know that these are very superficial observations.
Very solid feel. LCD hinge is tight, yet smooth. The lid closes with a satisfying click. The fans are very quiet. I had it on my lap with the Wi-Fi going for about an hour and a half while I was looking for drivers. It did get a little warm for sure, it doesn't get anywhere near as warm as my iBook G4 does (which can get uncomfortable). And yes, you can comfortably use it on your lap, unlike the older (and heavier) P4 Sager and the Dell XPSs that I've messed with, since there are no vents or intakes where your legs would be. The keyboard is nice. I didn't have any trouble with missing keystrokes, as others report is a minor problem.
One preferential problem I have is that the trackpad is too small and too recessed. And because there are three buttons, they're each too small... but I'm sure this is something I can adapt too. I've just gotten spoiled with the Macintosh style trackpad, with it's comfortable extra wide surface, flush- with- the- wristwrest, and giant single button that you can hit blindfolded.
I've had the chance to run the Hexus PiFast benchmark with these results:
HP nw8440 Core Duo 2.0GHz
1GB 533MHz RAM
Series computing time : 45.06
Division time : 5.30
InvSqrt time : 3.31
Final huge multiplication time : 2.22
Total computation time : 56.09 seconds(~ 0.02 hours)
Compared to my desktop system:
P4 3.2 HT on Abit AA8XE Motherboard
2GB 533MHz RAM
Series computing time : 57.05
Division time : 6.36
InvSqrt time : 4.09
Final huge multiplication time : 2.55
Total computation time : 70.28 seconds(~ 0.02 hours)
And here's a labeled pic of the bottom, if anyone is interested. There's an easily accessible bluetooth slot, and it looks like all you have to do is drop a module in there to add bluetooth (if you buy the cheapest model from a VAR, as I did, it doesn't come included).
And tonight I upgraded my memory with a pair of Patriot 667MHz modules... The first memory slot is located on the bottom, and the other is located under the keyboard! It took me a lot of web browsing to find that information. Just undo the two screws on the bottom of the computer and the four sliding clips at the top of they keyboard and the keyboard will easily fold forward (be careful not to dislodge the ribbon cable which is attached directly under the spacebar). That's it! There are no extra screws to remove.
A closer inspection reveals that the Core Duo is in a socket! So, if the Core 2 chips are indeed going to be pin compatible, and there's a BIOS revision available, I recon we should be able to upgrade to 64-bit goodness in the future. If not that, then we'll at least be able to drop a 2.33Ghz Yonah in there when the price becomes reasonable in a couple of years...