The good: Inexpensive; long battery life; good keyboard, touch pad, and mouse buttons; well-labeled ports and slots; better-than-average speakers; lifetime toll-free phone support and real-time chat support.
The bad: Lacks multimedia controls; low screen resolution results in blurry text; merely average performance.
The bottom line: It's neither fast nor fancy, but for users who want a laptop for basic productivity work, the inexpensive HP Compaq nx6110 is a good fit.
Like most mainstream business laptops, the HP Compaq nx6110 is far from flashy, though its all-black case lends it an air of sophistication. Likewise, its components don't inspire awe, but the $999 nx6110 performs well enough for basic productivity work, and it delivers almost four hours of battery life. If you're looking for a low-priced laptop to create documents and keep up with e-mail at the office or on the occasional business trip, the HP Compaq nx6110 will meet your needs.
Though the laptop's case measures 12.9 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep, its 1.2-inch thickness gives it a slender, compact look. Compared to most systems in its class, such as the 6.8-pound Gateway M460S and the 6.5-pound HP Compaq Presario V4000, the nx6110, at 6 pounds, is light. The average-size three-prong, 0.8-pound AC brick won't overload you, either. We're fans of the nx6110's keyboard, which is sufficiently wide and offers crisp key feedback. The broad touch pad has a line down its right side to guide your finger for scrolling, and the mouse buttons have a handy lip that catches your fingers. The laptop lacks multimedia controls--even a volume wheel--but it does include a convenient wireless on/off button as well as helpful icons that mark the ports located along the right and left edges. The internal fan occasionally spins audibly and vibrates (especially at bootup), but the laptop runs fairly silently otherwise.
Our nx6110's big 15-inch display came with an economical 1,024x768 (XGA) native resolution that we found a bit too low for the screen size, making text appear somewhat blurry, though still within tolerable limits. (Some more expensive nx6110 models have a higher-resolution SXGA+ display.) Sound from the internal speakers comes through the grill spanning the front edge; while our tunes lacked the bass of a commercial stereo, they sounded pretty good compared to the thin warbles that trickle out of most laptops.
The nx6110 squeaks by with the bare minimum of ports, jacks, and slots. On the left edge lie four-pin FireWire, VGA, and two stacked USB 2.0 ports (we prefer our USB ports dispersed around the case). The left edge also features Ethernet and modem jacks as well as one Type I/II/III PC Card slot. On the right edge sit headphone and microphone jacks and the built-in DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive.
The nx6110 runs on Windows XP Professional, and like most low-cost laptops, includes only a smattering of software applications for viewing and burning discs, such as Sonic RecordNow 7 and InterVideo WinDVD 5. In addition, it comes with a simple HP utility for creating system passwords and adjusting other system features.
At just $999, our nx6110 test unit's low price brought with it fairly mundane specs. It had a 1.6GHz Pentium M processor, 512MB of somewhat slow 333MHz memory, an Intel 915GM graphics engine that swipes up to 128MB of VRAM from main memory, and a meager 40GB hard drive spinning at an average 5,400rpm.
The system's performance score on CNET Labs' benchmark tests was unsurprising, given its humdrum parts. The nx6110 scored behind both the better-stocked, $1,579 HP Compaq Presario V4000 and the $1,370 Gateway M360X. The nx6110 did manage to beat another HP laptop, the $1,249 nx6125, which shares the nx6110's case design but features different components. Despite its mediocre benchmark scores, the nx6110 is still powerful enough for most basic tasks, such as e-mailing and Web surfing.
We were pleased with the nx6110's 3-hour, 50-minute battery life in our Labs' drain tests. The Presario V4000 barely made it past the 3-hour mark, while the M360X fell dark before then. If you're in the market for even better battery life, check out the $1,470 Gateway M460S, whose included extended battery lasts almost 7 hours.
HP ships the nx6110 with a standard one-year warranty. You can carry the laptop into an authorized service center for repairs, or an HP rep will pick it up from you free of charge. HP sells several warranty extensions, including accidental damage protection and three years of support, for various prices. Unlike most other vendors, HP provides toll-free telephone support for as long as you own the laptop. The company's support Web site offers one of our favorite online-support features--real-time chat with an HP tech rep--as well as downloads of the laptop's comprehensive user guides.