Tools Of The Trade: The HP Compaq nc4200 laptop

Of course, it is possible to pay substantially more for a multimedia computer with plenty of extras, but for regular business use, that increasingly looks like an indulgence.

HP's Compaq nc4200 laptop illustrates why this is the case. The machine is a perfectly capable, relatively lightweight and efficiently designed laptop. It has a bright 12.1-inch screen, a reasonably quick (1.86Ghz) processor and plenty of scope for expansion. And all this comes with a good deal of change from a grand.

The nc4200 weighs in at a reasonable 1.8kg, so it will not become a burden, either commuting or on business trips. The dark grey casing should stand up to knocks, and the overall build quality of the computer appears sound.

Battery life is a claimed 5.5 hours on the standard battery unit (expect around 3.5 to four hours in practice, running standard business applications). An ambient light sensor, designed specially by HP, adjusts the screen to maximise working time.

The nc4200 is also quite modular in its design: it is easy to add a second battery, attach the unit to a desktop docking station or even remove the hard drive unit. The hard drive is protected against shocks, as well as data corruption, and there is a local recovery solution built in to make it easier to retrieve data, if the machine does suffer damage.

As a no-nonsense business portable for someone who is on the road a lot, but does not need cutting-edge features, the nc4200 fits the bill well enough. But designing a laptop of this size and weight, and keeping the price down, does mean some sacrifices.

The nc4200 has just one PC card expansion slot, and no built-in optical or floppy drive. Optical drives can be added either on their own or as part of one of HP's docking stations, but this measure adds to the cost and also to the weight.

Anyone planning to work with graphics, or even watch DVDs, might find that the PC's built-in video hardware is rather pedestrian, not least because it shares video memory with the main system.

On the plus side, Bluetooth and WiFi networking are built in.

There are three USB ports but no parallel port (for older printers) and no Firewire/iLink port for connecting fast hard drives or peripherals such as video cameras. That the nc4200 comes with a wired network card capable of up to a gigabit in speed does rather give the game away: this is a laptop designed mostly with office use in mind.

The nc4200 is a capable performer, rugged but light enough to suit regular travellers. However, for use at home or as a main computer, the lack of a built-in CD or DVD drive, and the fact that no external unit comes with the package, remain drawbacks.

THE VERDICT

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pros: the right size and weight for regular travellers; reasonably priced.

Cons: basic video performance and no bundled CD/DVD.

Price: from £874 (plus VAT).

Contact: www.hp.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Frozen out: despite being filmed in Iceland, 'Fortitude' is set further north, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
tvGerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore