Slim laptop sacrifices features for portability

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 12:00am

If everyone in Hong Kong bought and used notebooks as they were actually meant to be used - carrying them from one venue to another for taking notes or to make presentations - then only models such as Hewlett-Packard's new Compaq nc4010 would sell.

Few people in Hong Kong own cars, so the only way to get a notebook from point A to point B is to lug it.

Therefore, it is strange that so many people choose to buy notebooks that not only rival their desktop counterparts in power but could double up as makeshift dumbbells during long, boring MTR trips.

The nc4010 is a perfect example of what a mission-critical work notebook should be like.

It has a full-sized keyboard that allows for comfortable touch typing and, while the 12.1-inch LCD screen is not generous, it's more than adequate for most note-taking and web-surfing needs.

The laptop has an Intel Pentium M processor 735 running at a maximum clock speed of 1.7gigahertz and is equipped with an internal hard drive that can store 40 megabytes to 80MB.

It comes with the standard 100/10 bit Ethernet and 56K modem connects, and slots for an external keyboard, an external monitor and one PCMCIA card.

HP also decided to include both a trackpad and a trackpoint. But make no mistake, the nc4010 is spartan in nature. There is no internal CD-Rom drive, which may discourage some buyers given that a lot of data nowadays comes on CD-Rom, although an external CD-Rom drive can be used.

There are two USB 2.0 ports but no Firewire. The absence of Bluetooth connectivity is understandable, given the nc4010's austere nature, but nevertheless slightly disappointing.

Truly odd, however, is HP's decision to add a Secure Digital Card slot but to omit other standard slots for standards such as Compact Flash and Memory Stick.

Surely, people use as much of one standard as the other?

One small touch on the nc4010 that I particularly like is a button on the notebook's battery that, if pressed, shows how much power each battery has left, even if they are not inserted into the notebook's main unit.

HP claims a single battery charge can last 3 1/2 hours.

Hewlett-Packard Compaq NC4010


Price: $14,388

Pros: Small

Cons: Austere features