Hewlett-Packard certainly isn’t known for making high-end gaming notebooks, but the company does know its way around corporate configs. This nc6320 has everything we love in a notebook—including Intel’s popular Core Duo dual-core mobile CPU, but it uses a technology so outdated we dare not speak its name. OK, we’ll say it: onboard video—a parts choice that makes 3D gaming literally impossible.
To compensate for this slap in the face to common decency, the rig comes loaded with Verizon’s high-speed EVDO wireless broadband connectivity. The technology works too, making this an ultra-powerful, highly portable notebook.
HP crafted the laptop to withstand the hazards of the open road. Its shell is made of magnesium-alloy to withstand any bumps and bruises it might encounter, and a layer of Mylar below the keyboard protects the notebook’s vitals from becoming scrambled by spilled coffee or some other errant beverage. There are even little rubber bumpers surrounding the keyboard to keep the 15-inch LCD screen from touching the keys when you shut the lid. We don’t see this feature enough on laptops—it’s definitely welcome.
The embedded EVDO wireless broadband is easily the most notable—and coolest—feature of the nc6320. It works through Verizon’s network, and made it a breeze to log onto the web from anywhere in San Francisco. (Verizon claims the service is available in every large metropolitan area in the U.S., but make sure your city is covered before taking the plunge). Users connect to the Internet by simply opening up the Wireless Connections window, selecting the Verizon network, and logging on.
Is it a fast connection? Heck yeah. We consistently experienced a strong signal and fast downloads. In fact, for simple web browsing, the connection felt just as fast as the cable modem we use at home, although our actual throughput for large downloads was around 40KB/s. The EVDO service costs $60 a month, but if you don’t want to pony up the cash there’s the option of using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology, both of which are integrated.
For paranoid types, there’s a built-in biometric fingerprint scanner. It’s purely optional, and is tied to the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) on the Intel chipset. Using these two systems in tandem, your fingerprint basically acts as the key to your computer. A registered fingerprint gains entrance, while intruders are denied.
The notebook’s 15-inch screen is small, but impressive. Images are bright and sharp at the 1400x1050 native resolution. But as we mentioned before, the integrated Intel graphics are strictly 2D. As for battery life, we got three and a half hours of continuous use surfing the web, but only 90 minutes while playing games (of course, with the onboard graphics, you won’t be doing much of that). The included speakers are simply sufficient.
The nc6320 isn’t perfect, but it comes close—for non-gamers. It’s plenty powerful and the wireless options are impressive. We also love its lithe six-pound carry weight, the security features, and its durable chassis. Sure, it would be nice to have the option to fire up a game now and then, but this is nonetheless a capable and useful machine that has “road warrior” written all over it.
Month Reviewed: June 2006
+ LAPTOP: Lots of wireless options, durable design, and hefty security.
- RUNNING LAPS: So-so speakers; it can't do gaming; 5,400rpm drive.