Gateway MC7803u Review

Gateway MC7803u Review,Gateway MC7803u
The new MC7801u is Gateway’s answer to the new 16:9 notebooks that many manufacturers are starting to release. These notebooks offer a wider display that is friendly to newer high definition videos and come in an in-between size of 16” and 18.4”. Offering an all-glass LCD panel, touch sensitive multimedia keys, backlit keyboard, and leather palmrest; Gateway really tried to take it up a notch with this notebook. Read on to see how well this notebook performed in our battery of tests and if it deserves a spot on your lap.

Gateway MC7803u configuration:

* Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 (2.0GHz/ 800MHz Front Side Bus/ 2MB L2 cache)
* Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
* 4GB DDR2-800 RAM (2x2GB)
* 16.0" WXGA (1366x768) glossy finish
* ATI Radeon 3650 with 512MB DDR2 dedicated memory
* 320GB 5400RPM Hitachi Hard Drive
* DVD Super Multi (+/- double layer) with LabelFlash
* Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100 AGN (802.11a/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
* Built-in 1.3 megapixel webcam and microphone
* Ports: 4 USB, Kensington Lock Slot, Modem, LAN, 2 Headphone/Mic, HDMI, VGA, SD Card Reader, ExpressCard/54
* Battery: 8 Cell Lithium Ion 60Whr (4.8AHr)
* Size: 1.3"-1.70" (H) x 15.28" (W) x 10.43" (D)
* Weight: 7lbs 11.5oz
* Warranty: 1 Year standard
* Retail MSRP: $999

Build and Design

The design of the Gateway MC-series notebook is more elegant than previous models, including an all-glass front panel, leather palmrest, and glossy touch sensitive multimedia keys. Opening the notebook up you just see a perfectly smooth front panel, one piece, and a smooth silver border. I don’t always like notebooks with the super reflective glass panels, but this one pulls it off well. The keyboard area looks great with the backlit keys, and touch sensitive surround that just looks clean and simple. The leather palmrest is soft and smooth, giving some mild padding to your wrists while typing. I can’t say how well the leather will hold up long term, but threw the duration of our review it held up quite well.

Build quality is above average, with a very solid feel in both the screen cover and main frame of the notebook. Coming in at over 7.5lbs, it is not by any means a lightweight machine, but it is built like a tank. The glossy surface surrounding the keyboard and covering the LCD feel fairly tough, and didn’t scuff or scratch in our testing. While I don’t generally agree with glossy display covers found on some newer notebooks, they do give an added layer of protection against impacts oo even wandering finger tips.

The leather palmrest is one area that concerns me with long-term use. With constant abrasion from your wrists and sweat buildup it may fade or crack over time. It does to have a lacquer finish, which should protect the leather, but long term use will tell if it will hold up or not.


The WXGA (1366x768) display rates average compared to other notebooks, with bright colors and decent contrast, but narrow viewing angles. Vertical viewing angles were limited, with a small sweet spot before the screen started to wash out or have colors go inverted. Horizontal viewing angles were better, but the screen becomes difficult to see at steep angles from the reflection off the glass panel cover. The screen cover does add a nice seamless look to the front panel, but at the cost of adding excessive amounts of reflection. In most lighting conditions I can see my face on the display while I type, something that isn’t really common on even glossy LCDs.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The thin backlit keyboard is easy to type on and comfortably spaced over the wide 16” body of the notebook. The backlit keys are highly visible in all lighting conditions, and when you are typing on the keyboard, light leakage around the keys is minimal. Individual key thickness feels less than other notebooks from the odd flat shape of the key top, but it is much easier to type on than a Sony/MacBook style keyboard. Key presses are very smooth, with only a light touch needed to trigger a key. Audible feedback is minimal, with only a small click with each full press.

The large touchpad is easy to use, with a matte textured Synaptics interface. Sensitivity was great, easily tracking my finger with no discernible lag. The surface area is greater than most notebooks, but still falls short to the gigantic touchpad surfaces found on Apple notebooks. The buttons are large and easy to hit with the side of your thumb, and give a mild soft click with shallow feedback.

The backlit panel surrounding the keyboard with touch sensitive multimedia keys worked very well, and weren’t too bright or distracting. Another great feature that Gateway has included in the past is a function key that lets you disable all of the indicator lights. This comes in handy if you are watching a movie in a dark setting or just want to save a bit of battery power. You can toggle the multimedia keys off (which also disables them), just the keyboard off, or everything off.


The performance of the Gateway MC7803u was excellent, handling day to day tasks with ease. Loaded with the Intel T5800 Core 2 Duo processor, ATI Radeon 3650 graphics, and 4GB of RAM it worked well as a multimedia hub, including HD movie watching and gaming. Playing Half-Life 2 at the native resolution of the LCD and all settings on high, the MC7803u managed a consistent 60FPS even under high action scenes. Day to day use was great, with fast boot times, and little lag opening up software such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office Word, or using Windows Media Center. Synthetic benchmark scores backed up many of our findings, although our 3DMark06 score is skewed because of the odd notebook resolution. Normally we run all of our 3DMark06 benchmarks at 1280x800 resolution, but this notebook required 1366x768, making the score artificially lower than expected.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, this processor benchmark program is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, it measures the amount of time to run a set amount of calculations.

Ports and Features

The MC7801u is packed with quite a few external ports, but missing some common features like eSata and Firewire. With 4 USB ports, I would have gladly sacrificed one for an eSata port, or even an eSata/USB combo port.

Port List:

* VGA and v1.3 HDMI
* Four USB
* Modem and LAN
* Two Headphone and one Microphone jacks
* Multi-Card Reader and ExpressCard/54
* Kensington Lock Slot and AC Power

Front: 2 Headphone/Mic

Rear: Display Hinge

Left: Kensington Lock Slot, AC Power, VGA, HDMI, LAN, Modem, 2 USB, ExpressCard/54, Multi-Card Reader

Right: Optical Drive and 2 USB

Speakers and Audio

Speaker performance is average, with front mounted speakers below the palmrest that easily get blocked with the notebook on your lap. Bass and midrange are lacking from the small speaker driver size and position, and volume levels could be improved.

This notebook offers 2 headphone jacks to share a movie with someone else on a plane ride (if the battery will last long enough). The audio output from the jacks were great, and peak volume levels were above my comfortable listening levels.

Battery Life

With the notebook set to the Windows Vista “Balanced” profile, wireless active, and screen brightness set to 60%, it ran for 3 hours and 47 minutes before it had went into sleep mode. For a 16” notebook with a battery that doesn’t extend out the back of the notebook, or protrude out from the bottom, the results were impressive. In our battery test I also disabled the keyboard and multimedia lights, since they added about half a watt to the power consumption while on.

Heat and Noise

The Gateway MC-series notebook cooled itself very well, designed with hot parts away from the shell of the notebook, keeping the palmrest and underside cool under stress. Fan noise was minimal, going just above a whisper level under stress, and off or very low under normal use.


The Gateway MC7803u turned out to be a very nice notebook in our testing, with a great design and excellent build quality. The design is very elegant, and the smooth surface multimedia keys and all-glass LCD work very well together. It has a simplistic look with very little clutter, and the backlit keys give it a wonderful look. Performance under light day to day work and mild gaming was fine, proving to be a good multimedia desktop replacement with almost 4 hours of battery life. I think the only thing that could make this notebook more perfect would be a higher resolution 1080p display and Blu-ray drive.


* Smooth and supple leather palmrest
* Good performance
* Full backlit keyboard and multimedia keys (that turn off if you don’t want to be distracted)
* Great battery life for a 16” notebook
* Cool to the touch, even while gaming


* Highly reflective screen

Continue Read Gateway MC7803u Review

ASUS N10JC-A1 Review

ASUS N10JC-A1 Review,ASUS N10JC-A1
The high-class ASUS N10 is a netbook above all the rest, starting a new market segment called the "Corporate Netbook." The N10 offers similar features to standard netbooks, including an Intel Atom platform and WSVGA screen, but with the addition of optional switchable dedicated graphics and a fancy design. With a starting price of $649 for models with dedicated graphics; is a higher configuration worth the price jump? In this review we explain the differences between the N10JC and the cheaper Eee PC 1000HA and tell you if you should consider the costly upgrade.There are several different configurations of the N10 series available at various online stores. Some configurations offer Windows Vista, others include a different hard drive or use integrated graphics rather than dedicated. The only reason we mention this is so that consumers are aware that there are different configurations on the market to meet the needs of different people.

ASUS N10JC-A1 Specifications:

* Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor
* 160GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive (Seagate 5400.4)
* NVIDIA 9300M GS with 256MB DDR2 memory and Intel GMA950
* 1GB of DDR2 RAM (667MHz)
* Windows XP Home operating system
* 10.2” WSVGA Glossy LED-Backlit 1024 x 600 LCD
* Ports: 3 USB 2.0, HDMI,VGA monitor out, headphone jack, microphone input, 8 in 1 SD card reader (SDHC compatible), Kensington lock slot, Ethernet 10/100, ExpressCard/34
* Webcam (1.3 MP)
* Battery: 11.1v 4800mAh 53Wh 6-cell battery
* Wireless: 802.11b/g
* Two-year Limited Global Warranty
* Size: 10.8 (W) x 8.25 (D) x 1.46 (H)
* Weight: 3lbs 8.5oz, 4lbs 2.1oz with AC adapter
* MSRP: $649

Build and Design

The N10 is designed a step above other netbooks, with a better paint scheme and chrome accents. The shape is slimmer than the 1000HA we just reviewed, but the thinner shape comes from the battery sticking out instead of down. While some people get hung up on a battery that hangs off the back of a notebook, it doesn’t really bother me since I am used to seeing it on many business notebooks which share that design element. The gold and chrome paint scheme looks very nice, giving this netbook a “normal” color that you don’t generally see on many netbooks.

Build quality is very similar to other netbooks with a feel of slight ruggedness, but generous use of cheap plastic. The two toggle switches for dedicated graphics and wireless on/off feel undersized and are difficult to switch without using your fingernail. The screen hinges feel weaker on the N10 compared to the 901 or 1000 series Eee PC, flopping the screen back when you are carrying around the netbook.


The glossy LED-backlit WSVGA display is an odd screen choice for a business oriented notebook, where most manufacturers use matte displays to reduce screen glare. Another limiting factor is the lower resolution screen; which for the price premium you might expect a higher resolution option. That said the screen is bright and vibrant and very pleasing to look at for hours at a time. Viewing angles are also better than average when compared to standard notebooks, with a broad vertical viewing angle sweet sport before colors start to distort. Horizontal viewing angles extend almost to 90 degrees, if you can actually view the screen over the reflective surface that is showing the surrounding area.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is comfortable to type on, but somewhat confusing to pickup if you are used to other keyboard layouts. One layout decision that irks me is the second function key located next to the direction pad. On most keyboards the outermost keys on the second row are both shift keys, making it easy to blindly aim your fingers all by feel. The N10 moves the left shift key inwards, and with it already being condensed in size, makes it difficult to find while typing. The sharp edge key design is another element which I would have preferred ASUS not use, since I found the rounded edge design on the Eee PC 1000 to be more comfortable. I personally think ASUS should have used the same keyboard on the N10 as they used on the 1000HA.

The Synaptics-based touchpad on the N10 is not only larger than most netbooks, but is easier to use than cheaper touchpads now found on many "consumer" netbooks. The pad surface is glossy, sharing the same color as the shell of the netbook. The large size makes it easy to move about the screen without having to pick up your finger to backtrack. Sensitivity is great with a wide range of adjustment and there was no noticeable lag found during use.

The touchpad buttons are adequately sized and easy to depress with little pressure. Feedback is shallow with a small audible click when pressed.

The ASUS N10JC-1A is also equipped with a fingerprint scanner which is located between the touchpad buttons. Scanning your fingertip can be tricky with how deeply recessed it is, but with a bit of practice you can get repeatable accurate readings.


From the moment I received this notebook I was very interested in seeing the performance of the Intel Atom platform with a dedicated graphics card attached. Almost all configurations use the dated Intel GMA950 graphics, which slow everything down, including movie decoding. With the NVIDIA 9300M graphics, this netbook might have a shot at decoding 720p video in a very compact package that has HDMI out.

For our test we tried a wide range of high definition content including an assortment of HD movies and HD movie trailers. Sadly, even though we tried a wide range of video codecs, including CoreAVC, the Intel Atom processor didn’t have enough grunt to keep a steady decoding framerate. Depending on the bitrate the N10 working with the NVIDIA 9300M graphics only managed 10-15fps, well below 24-25fps goal.

Since HD content was out of the question we moved onto video games as another area to see where the dedicated graphics might help out. Using Steam we pulled in Half-Life 2 and tweaked the visual settings to be easier on the system. With the resolution set to 1024x600 and most settings on medium the system average 20-25fps, which was playable, but still under what you would want for smooth gaming. Heavy action scenes dropped the framerate into the mid-teens, and if you weren’t lucky, got yourself killed in no time.

In day to day use the NVIDIA 9300M didn’t do much to improve the overall speed of the N10 compared to standard netbooks which only have Intel integrated graphics. It also didn’t help out much with gaming or video playback since the Intel Atom processor can’t keep up. While it did improve limited gaming abilities, it wasn’t a big enough jump to really make anything old games work under tweaked settings. For these reasons I don’t really see any benefit to including the dedicated graphics when all it does is increase power consumption.Speakers and Audio

The Altec Lansing speakers on the N10 did sound slightly better than other netbook speakers, but were still leaving much to be desired. Bass and midrange were lacking, but volume levels were fine for average use. The headphone output was great for private listening, and with my Sennheiser HD-80s hooked up, I had no more complaints about bass or midrange. Peak volume levels through the headphone jack were well above my tolerance of loud music.

Ports and Features

Port selection was above average compared to many netbooks, with the addition of the HDMI output, ExpressCard/34 slot for external devices, and security enhancing fingerprint scanner. Beyond those devices the port selection included three USB, VGA, LAN, headphone/mic, multi-card reader, and a Kensington lock slot.

Front: 8-in-1 Card Reader

Rear: Battery

Left: Kensington Lock Slot, Switchable Graphics, HDMI, two USB, Wireless On/Off

Right: ExpressCard/34, Headphone(SPDIF)/Mic, one USB, VGA, LAN, AC Power

Heat and Noise

Thermal performance of the ASUS N10 was great, even under the stress of gaming with the dedicated graphics under load. At no time did the system fan go above a whisper level of noise. Right after gaming the palmrest and touchpad area would peak around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to the original Eee PC 701 which would heat soak and reach temperatures of 112 degrees Fahrenheit, ASUS has come a long way in terms of cooling performance.

Battery Life

Battery life with the screen brightness set to 100%, the N10 set to the “Quiet Office” power profile , and wireless active was 5 hours and 9 minutes before it went into standby at 3% remaining. With the NVIDIA graphics enabled under the same settings, estimated battery life was about 1 hour less.Conclusion

The ASUS N10, while performing quite well in our testing in overall performance, didn’t see much gain in day-to-day use from the dedicated graphics. While the addition nets you an HDMI port, it doesn’t help with decoding HD movies or help with many games since the Intel Atom processor doesn’t have enough power to handle those activities. While you do get a classier looking design with a much nicer paint scheme and slightly slimmer look, you pay a price premium over the Eee PC 1000.

With a price tag nearly 50 percent greater than other netbook models, even more when compared to new HP and Dell offerings, it seems ASUS might have priced themselves out of the consumer market with the N10. Of course, the price tag is still perfectly reasonable as a "corporate netbook" ... and some less demanding road warriors may desire the affordable N10 over outrageously priced ultraportables like the Sony VAIO TZ.


* Improved cooling over previous Eee PC models
* Good battery life
* Slimmer design over 10” Eee PC 1000
* ExpressCard slot for expansion
* HDMI output from a netbook


* High price tag (compared to consumer netbooks)
* Dedicated graphics don’t really improve HD video decoding or mild gaming
* Keyboard doesn’t feel as comfortable as other 10” netbooks

Continue Read ASUS N10JC-A1 Review

HP EliteBook 2530p Review

HP EliteBook 2530p Review,HP EliteBook 2530p
If you're a corporate road warrior or a student trying to fit as much computer as possible in the smallest space possible, the HP EliteBook 2530p might be the perfect notebook for you. This 12.1" workstation featuring the latest Intel low voltage processors and integrated graphics for extreme battery life, and plenty of ports and storage options inside an impressively durable shell. The EliteBook 2530p looks like a surprising amount of computer in a rugged three-pound chassis. Is it worth a little extra cash to get your hands on this tiny titan? Keep reading and find out.The 2530p starts out at $1,549 but more powerful pre-built configurations top out at $2,499. Because of the Intel solid state drive (SSD) our custom configuration is priced at $3,006 ... with 3-year next business day on-site warranty costing an additional $129.

Our pre-production review unit as configured:

* Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 Low Voltage Processor (1.86GHz, 6MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)
* Microsoft Genuine Windows Vista Business
* 12.1-inch WXGA anti-glare (1280 x 800)
* Intel GMA 4500MHD Integrated Graphics
* 2GB DDR2 800MHz RAM
* 80GB High Performance Intel SSD (Solid State Drive)
* DVD+/-RW Optical Drive
* WiFi, Ethernet, Modem, and Bluetooth Connectivity
* 6-Cell 55WHr Battery
* 3-Year on-site Warranty
* Dimensions: 11.11" x 9.18" x 0.99" (with 6-cell battery)
* Weight: 3.75lbs with 6-cell battery

Build and Design

The HP EliteBook 2530p is an ultraportable business notebook, and as such corporations (and many consumers) expect the highest quality of materials and the best features and designs for their money. HP's other EliteBook notebooks meet or exceed those expectations, but what about the smallest member of the EliteBook family?

The answer: Nobody puts baby in the corner ... because baby will kick your ass.

The main body of the EliteBook 2530p is covered in the new "HP DuraCase" and "HP DuraFinish" which is essentially a hard plastic and strong magnesium alloy inner shell much like its predecessor strengthened by a brushed aluminum outer shell that is so scratch resistant you can't even scratch it with steel wool. The base of the laptop feels very strong and would definitely survive many bumps and bruises that other laptops might not. There is absolutely no flex in the amazingly solid keyboard ... none. The underside of the notebook is also similarly rigid and strong with just a tiny amount of flex in the area immediately underneath the notebook's optical drive.

The outer shell of the screen casing is made of metal, but the inner screen bezel is plastic. Unlike the 15-inch EliteBook 8530w we previously reviewed the display lid does flex slightly when significant pressure is applied to the center of the lid, but the lid is still much stronger than what we typically see on even the best 12-inch business notebooks.

When HP says that this EliteBook was designed "to meet the military standards (MIL-STD 810F) for high/low temperatures and dust." they mean this notebook is built to withstand years of use and abuse.

As mentioned in our review of the EliteBook 8530w, we found the "DuraCase" and "DuraFinish" are indeed quite rugged. In the review of the 8530w I discovered this when I accidentally dropped the 8530w on its screen and the notebook sustained no damage.

This time, I decided to be more careful with the 2530p and took it home one evening to extended testing. After a few hours at home I left the notebook on the kitchen table and walked into another room for a few minutes. When I returned I found my two-year-old daughter pulling the 2530p off the table ... and dropping it on the hard wood floor with the screen still open.

Luckily, the 2530p survived with no damage ... not even a scratch.

Additionally, the 2530p also features hard drive shock protection in the form of the new HP 3D DriveGuard which will help to protect your hard drive in the event the laptop gets dropped or violently bumped ... or dropped by an editor's two-year-old daughter.

Of course, if you select the solid state drive (SSD) option such as the one in our review unit then you never have to worry about shock protection for your hard drive because SSDs have no moving parts and aren't vulnerable to failure due to sudden movement or impact.

With all this rugged durability built into the deisgn you have to expect a trade off, and the trade off in this case is weight. Some 12-inch business class notebooks tip the scales at 3 pounds or less. The EliteBook 2530p weighs in at 3.75 pounds with the 6-cell battery. Although that is indeed a slight increase in weight, the added durability you get more than makes up for the very minor increase in weight.

Finally, in the same way that the gray and black exterior and smooth design suits a professional environment, so do the internals. The EliteBook 2530p uses three simple plastic covers on the bottom of the notebook (each held in place with Phillips head screws) so that the user or your IT department can easily access the hard drive, wireless cards or RAM for fast upgrades. There is a forth tiny expansion slot cover on the bottom of the notebook but this is only used for the dedicated Bluetooth card. The rest of the notebook interior is protected by Torx screws which help deter unqualified employees from messing around inside their work-issued notebook.

Screen and Audio

The 2530p comes equipped with a 12.1" anti-glare widescreen with a typical WXGA resolution. At 1280 x 800 pixels, this display is capable of displaying fine details without making things too small to work comfortably while on the move. Of course, the resolution might be limiting if you plan to use this notebook as a mobile video and photo editing platform ... but most people interested in a 12-inch notebook aren't editing high-resolution photos on the road.

When viewing the screen from straight ahead, colors are rich and the contrast is excellent. Full-screen movies are look quite good with deep blacks and good viewing angles. Horizontal viewing angles are particularly impressive so you won't have trouble showing a presentation to multiple people sitting at a desk. The vertical viewing angle from above starts to wash out at extreme angles and colors begin to invert from below ... but the overwhelming majority of users will never view the screen from high above or far below.

HP generally impresses our editorial staff with the quality of the speakers used in their notebooks, and the mono speaker in the 2530p was generally impressive. The built-in speaker is above average with a good range of highs, middles, and acceptable lows that doesn't sound as "tinny" as most mono speakers. The highest volume settings are more than loud enough to fill a small office with sound for a presentation, but are still clear and not horribly distorted. The only negative about the speaker is its location on the bottom front edge of the notebook.

Since the speakers are located on the bottom front edge of the notebook the sound isn't being directed up and toward the user when the EliteBook is used as a laptop. In fact, our staff usually refers to laptop speakers with this type of placement as "crotch speakers" because the speakers are directing sound to your lap and waist rather than your ears. If you're using the 2530p on your desk this isn't as much of a problem, but if you're a road warrior constantly working from your lap then you might be annoyed by the speaker placement.

The headphone jack on the 2530p works well with the two different brands of earphones I used during the test. No static or other noise was noticed through the jack besides imperfections in the audio source itself.
The layout of the keyboard is just slightly different than what you might find on the HP consumer notebooks. The individual key presses are quiet without loud clicking sounds as you type. Keys are flatter and have a little less space in between them. The key spacing had to make room for the addition of the pointstick.

HP also includes the same keyboard light you'll find in the larger EliteBook notebooks on the EliteBook 2530p. Just press the tiny light bulb button above the screen and a small LED pops out and shines down on the keyboard. The light isn't very bright, but it is bright enough to allow you to see the keyboard in the dark and not annoy the person seated next to you on an airplane

Above the keyboard also rests a series of touch-sensitive media buttons similar to what you find on HP consumer notebooks. There is an Info, WiFi Toggle, Presentation Mode, and Mute touch buttons on this glossy strip. Additionally, next to the Mute button is a volume control slider that enables the user to raise and lower the volume by sliding their finger across that area. One nice addition on the 2530p is a touchpad disable button that allows you to turn off the touchpad and use just the pointstick for moving the mouse cursor.

The touchpad also features the DuraFinish so that oils from your fingertip don't build up on the surface and make the touchpad look weathered after just a few months. The Synaptics touchpad is very responsive to my touch, and the two rubber mouse buttons are quiet and about the right size. There is also a secondary set of mouse buttons above the touchpad to work with the pointstick that comes with all 2530p notebooks. The pointstick is amazingly accurate and comfortable to use.

Ports and Features

The 2530p features a good number of ports on all sides, so let us take a brief tour ...

Left side:

Here we see the power jack, modem port, USB port, and optical drive.

Right side:

ExpressCard slot, SD card reader, FireWire, Audio-out jack, microphone/line-in jack, USB port, VGA out and docking station connector.

Rear side:

The battery, Ethernet jack, and the security lock slot.

Front side:

There are no ports on the front, just indicator lights and the mono speaker located on the bottom.

Bottom side:

The 2530p features an 802.11 a/b/g/draft-n WiFi card and Bluetooth 2.0, both of which always worked without any dropped signals. HP also offers buil-in broadband wireless card options (AT&T or Verizon) for people who need to stay connected to the internet anywhere there's a cell phone signal.

Heat and Noise

During normal use (browsing the web or working on a text document) the EliteBook 2530p remained quiet enough not to disturb anyone in a quiet office or classroom. However, after watching streaming video online and after stressing the graphics the cooling fan inside the laptop gets louder than we would like. When doing tasks that stress the processor and graphics card, the laptop's fan works hard to keep this laptop cool. This is completely understandable since there's so much hardware squeezed inside the 12-inch chassis, but it is something to keep in mind.

Finally, we recorded the following external temperatures using an IR thermometer after running two consecutive PCMark05 benchmarks. This should serve as an indicator of how hot the notebook will get after about 30 minutes of serious use. All temperatures are listed in degrees Fahrenheit. While the 2530p isn't the coldest notebook we've reviewed, it does stay amazing cool considering the performance and how much hardware is packed into such a small space.


The 6-cell (55WHr) Lithium-ion battery in the EliteBook 2530p performs quite well. During our timed tests, we decided to test the "worst case scenario" for the EliteBook 2530p ... setting the notebook to the ‘High Performance' profile, screen brightness at 100%, WiFi on, and accessing the SSD while listening to about 30 minutes worth of multiple music files and editing documents in Microsoft Office. The laptop shut down after exactly 5 hours and 49 minutes with 3% of the battery left, which is quite amazing for a laptop running in "high performance" mode and draining the battery with the screen on maximum brightness.

Battery life can also be extended via using the "power saver" power profile in Vista, or with a 9-Cell (83WHr) battery. For people who want the smallest and lightest notebook possible, ther is also a 3-cell (31WHr) battery option.Conclusion

The HP EliteBook 2530p is the best business-grade 12-inch notebook currently on the market. Despite a large number of business solutions from Dell and Lenovo in our office, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone on our staff who doesn't think the 2530p is currently the best all-around choice in the 12-inch form factor. If extreme portability, durability, and long battery life are important to you, the EliteBook 2530p makes an ideal choice. However, while it's fair to say the 2530p is "best in class" that doesn't mean it's perfect.

The biggest potential criticism you can leverage against the EliteBook 2530p is the same problem every notebook in this class has to deal with: In order to provide long battery life and maintain low heat levels in such a small notebook you have to use low voltage or ultra-low voltage processors. This means that some applications that rely heavily on the CPU (such as video editing applications) will run a little slower than they would on a notebook with a standard processor. That said, people interested in this notebook generally won't be trying to edit feature-length 1080p movies.

Again, that's just something you have to expect if you want a notebook in this class. The Lenovo ThinkPad X200 offers a more powerful traditional processor in a 12-inch notebook, but lacks an optical drive, has fewer ports, doesn't have a touchpad, and doesn't feel as rugged. The EliteBook 2530p doesn't make those kind of sacrifices.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a business-grade 12-inch notebook then the HP EliteBook 2530p belongs at the top of your list.


* Attractive and sleek design.
* Extreme durability in an extremely small package.
* Excellent overall performance in its class.
* Fantastic screen with good viewing angles and excellent brightness.
* Great port selection for a 12-inch notebook.
* Small form factor and low weight WITH an optical drive!
* Excellent battery life for road warriors.


* Less than ideal location for tiny mono-speaker.
* Fan can run a little loud.
* Too much bloatware for a business notebook.
* HP won't let me keep it.

Continue Read HP EliteBook 2530p Review

HP Compaq 2230s Review

HP Compaq 2230s
The HP Compaq 2230s is an ultra-portable consumer notebook that is targeted towards small businesses similar to the Dell Vostro or Lenovo SL series line of machines. This notebook gives consumers a less expensive option than the HP EliteBook series, with a starting price of $999 instead of $1,679. How well does the 2230s hold up against business-grade notebooks? Should you purchase one of these or consider a similarly-priced consumer notebook? Let's take a closer look and find out.

Our review unit of the HP Compaq 2230s came with the following options:

* Windows XP Professional
* Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8400 (2.26GHz)
* 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 8GB)
* 160GB Toshiba HDD (5400rpm)
* 12.1" diagonal widescreen glossy TFT LCD display at 1280x 800 (WXGA, glossy)
* Intel 4500MHD Integrated Graphics
* 8x DVD (+/-R double layer) drive
* Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100AGN (802.11a/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.0
* Dimensions: 13.3 x 9.7 x 1.21”
* Weight: 3lbs 14.6oz, 4lbs 11.4oz with AC adapter
* 65W 100-240V AC adapter
* 4-cell (37Wh) Lithium Ion battery
* Price as tested: $1,249 (starting price: $999)

Build and Design

The design of the HP Compaq 2230s is somewhat like a black Apple MacBook, with a clean all-black plastic exterior. As far as business notebooks go, it is HP’s attempt to compete with the Dell Vostro line, offering a more consumer look and feel to a business notebook. The all-black color scheme continues into the interior of the notebook, with the palmrest, touchpad, keyboard, and trim all covered in matching black. An interesting design change over a consumer notebook is the touch sensitive controls above the keyboard which normally activate media functions. On the HP 2230s, these control system functions such as external displays, wireless on/off, and volume.

The build quality turned out to be very unappealing and unlike what we've come to expect from a business or even small business grade notebook. The moment you pick up the 2230s you'll notice a great deal of flex in the screen cover from very thin unsupported plastic. Opening up the notebook you find the same thing around the main chassis, with weak plastic surrounding the keyboard. The palmrest has plenty of flex on either side, with the side above the optical drive being the worse of the two. On the optical drive side you have flex on the palmrest as well as the bottom shell when gripping the notebook from the side. The notebook feels more like a budget consumer notebook than a small business notebook with a starting price of $999. The only real advantage of the thin plastic material used is the total notebook weight is kept at a minimum. Unfortunately, the thin plastics don't give this notebook a feeling of durability.


The glossy WXGA display on the HP Compaq 2230s is pretty nice, with vibrant colors and high contrast. Black levels are average with some grey apparent in dark settings depending on the angle you are viewing the panel. Vertical viewing angles are adequate for regular day-to-day use, but colors invert when outside of the 10-15 degree up or down sweet spot. Horizontal viewing angles are better, keeping colors true even to the very edge of being able to still see the screen from the side of the notebook. Brightness levels are above average, enough to comfortably view the screen in a bright office setting. Using the notebook outside would be limited with the glossy display because of reflections, but should be fine as long as you are under shade.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard could be considered one of the redeeming factors of this notebook, offering a very comfortable typing surface with very solid support. Unlike the screen cover, palmrest, or case, the keyboard exhibits no flex at all ... even under strong pressure. Individual key action is smooth with a muted click when fully pressed. Key spacing and size is excellent even with the small 12” form factor. The only part I feel could be improved is the size of the function keys, which are almost 1/3 the overall size of a standard key.

The touchpad is a Synaptics model, with a smooth matte texture surface that is seamless with the palmrest. The size is great without feeling cramped, offering plenty of space even with the scroll bar section. The touchpad buttons have a long throw offering soft feedback with no audible clicks.

Performance and Benchmarks

System performance with the Intel P8400 processor and 2GB of memory with Windows XP was great. The notebook had excellent boot and shutdown times, and showed no signs of lag throughout day-to-day applications. Graphics performance was limited with the Intel 4500MHD integrated chipset, but the advantage of the integrated chipset is greater battery life. If you were looking to spice up your day at work with a game or two, older games such as Half-Life would run very well on the slower graphics found inside this notebook.

Another potentially performance-related feature worth mentioning is that HP provides a Windows Vista license and offers business customers the option of keeping Vista installed on the notebook or having a "custom install" of Windows XP direct from the factory. For those businesses that still prefer to run their office network with Windows XP machines, this is an important feature you won't find on consumer notebooks.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi.

Speakers and Audio

Speaker performance was limited, with poor bass and midrange, and low peak volume levels. For watching the occasional streaming news clip or YouTube video they would work just fine, but for movies and music your best bet is a nice pair of headphones.

Audio output quality was great with my Sennheiser HD80 headphones connected. Peak volume levels were well above anything I would want to listen to.

Ports and Features

The HP Compaq 2230s offers an impressive amount of features for a notebook with integrated Intel graphics. It offers three USB ports, HDMI and VGA out, ExpressCard/34 and multi-card reader, an optical drive, and modem and network connections. Being the small business notebook that it is, the 2230s also has a touch-sensitive panel to quickly access monitor out features, the HP Info Center, wireless on/off, and volume controls.


Rear: Screen hinge

Left: AC Power, LAN, Modem, one USB, Optical drive

Right: ExpressCard/34, Mutli-Card Reader, HDMI, two USB, VGA, Kensington Lock Slot

Heat and Noise

The cooling system on this notebook worked very well, keeping the system cool to the touch even while it was under a stressful load. Under battery power the system fan remained off the majority of the time, only spinning up if you were doing something processor intensive. The moment you plug the machine into AC power the fan turns on at low speed, which could best be described as a quiet drone. While benchmarking the system the fan noise increased quite a bit, but it kept system temperatures in check.


Battery performance was good considering the stock battery in the HP Compaq 2230s is only a 4-cell 37Wh model. This is probably the smallest battery found in a business notebook, and has no upgrade path to a larger battery. In our testing the average power draw from the notebook settled around 9 watts under a standard load. With the screen brightness set to 60 percent, wireless enabled and active, and the power profile set to "Portable/Laptop" the HP Compaq 2230s managed 3 hours and 30 minutes before it shutdown at 5 percent remaining. For a business notebook of this size we would normally expect a larger battery and battery life exceeding five hours.


The HP Compaq 2230s is a conservative-looking notebook with some features targeted towards small business users. Unlike most business or small business notebooks, this notebook doesn’t offer the rugged feel, only a rugged look. The plastic used throughout the design is weak even when compared to the HP Pavilion lineup. While the keyboard is impressive, it doesn’t outweigh the lackluster build quality. For small businesses my best recommendation would be to look at notebooks such as the HP Pavilion tx2500z or stepping up to the HP EliteBook series.


* Solid keyboard
* Nice touchpad and soft touch buttons
* VGA and HDMI output with Intel 4500MHD integrated graphics
* Excellent cooling system
* Availabile with Windows XP for customers who still want it


* Flexible chassis
* High price considering configuration and durability
* 4-cell battery option only

Continue Read HP Compaq 2230s Review

Apple MacBook Pro MB134LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop

Stylishly and intelligently designed for mobile professionals, Apple's MacBook Pro now includes Apple's Multi-Touch technology (which debuted with the MacBook Air), allowing you to pinch, swipe, or rotate to enlarge text, advance through photos, or adjust an image. And it gets a serious speed bump from Intel's latest 2.5 GHz 45-nanometer Penryn series Core 2 Duo processor (with 6 MB L2 cache), which also helps to reduce power requirements and save on battery life. This model (MB134LL/A ) also has a mercury-free, power-efficient LED-backlit display measuring 15.4 inches and a state-of-the art NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT video card with 512 MB of GDDR3 video RAM.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro offers a mercury-free, power-efficient LED-backlit display with an antiglare finish that's perfect for color-minded professionals.
Meticulously designed and encased in sleek and sturdy aluminum, the MacBook Pro measures just 1 inch thin and weighs 5.4 pounds. Your hands have room to spread out on the full-size keyboard with crisp, responsive keys, and the MacBook Pro has a built-in ambient light sensor that adjusts the keyboard and display brightness so it's easy to work in low-light settings. Other standard Apple "extras" includes a built-in iSight video camera and Apple's magnetically connected MagSafe power adapter, which safely disconnects when under strain.

It's pre-loaded with Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system, which enables easy backup of your most important data via Time Machine, a redesigned desktop that helps eliminate clutter. It also comes with the iLife '08 suite of applications--including iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband, and iTunes--and the newest version of the fast-loading Safari web browser. Other hardware features include a 250 GB hard drive, 2 GB of installed RAM (which can be upgraded to 4 GB), an 8x combo Superdrive (for burning dual-layer DVDs as well as CDs), built-in Gigabit Ethernet for high-speed networking, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), FireWire 400 and 800 ports, DVI video output, and an ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot for expansion solutions such as 3G wireless networking.

Apple Innovations
The MacBook Pro is the culmination of years of refining hardware and software design to an integrated art, and Apple's Multi-Touch technology is just the latest innovation to be added to it. The advanced trackpad now allows you to flip through photos, enlarge text, and adjust an image using just your fingers. It also comes with a MagSafe power adapter connector, which offers a magnetic connection instead of a physical one. So, if you happen to trip over a power cord, you won't send MacBook Pro flying off a table or desk--the cord simply disconnects, without damage to either the cord or the system.

The magnetically connected MagSafe power adapter breaks cleanly away, without damage to either the cord or the MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Pro has battery life that rivals most notebooks in its class. If you'd like to make that battery last even longer, Mac OS X has a few tricks up its sleeve. Go to System Preferences, click Energy Saver, and change battery optimization from Normal to Better Battery Life. Or tell MacBook Pro to reduce its screen brightness and give yourself a little more time untethered.

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
Experience improved energy efficiency, expanded wireless connectivity, and amazing battery life with the 45nm Penryn series Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor, which has a 2.50 GHz processor speed, super-fast 800 MHz front-side bus (FSB), and a super-sized 6 MB L2 cache. (An L2, or secondary, cache temporarily stores data; and a larger L2 cache can help speed up your system's performance. The FSB carries data between the CPU and RAM, and a faster front-side bus will deliver better overall performance.)

The new hafnium-infused circuitry--which reduces electrical current leakage in transistors--conserves even more energy, giving you more time away from the wall outlet. With a whopping 6 MB of shared L2 cache, data and instructions can be kept close to the two processor cores, greatly increasing performance and allowing the entire system to work more efficiently. And, because the processor cores share the L2 cache, either can use the entire amount if the other happens to be idle.

Your hands have room to spread out on the full-size keyboard with crisp, responsive keys.
Hard Drive and Memory
The 250 GB Serial-ATA (SATA) hard drive (5400 RPM) quickens the pace with a higher speed transfer of data--akin to FireWire and USB 2.0. The 2 GB of PC5300 DDR2 RAM (two SO-DIMMs of 1024 MB) have an industry-leading 667 MHz speed, and the RAM capacity can be increased to 4 GB.

Wireless Connectivity
The built-in 802.11n wireless networking provides up to five times the performance and twice the range of 802.11g, but it's also backward-compatible with 802.11a/b/g routers, enabling you to communicate with the a wide variety of Wi-Fi resources. It works seamlessly with the new AirPort Extreme with 802.11n. Use the built-in Bluetooth wireless technology to connect to your PDA or cell phone, synchronize addresses, or download pictures from your cell phone. You can also use a wireless headset for iChat audio chats and VoIP calls as well as quickly share files with a colleague.

Display and Graphics
The 15.4-inch widescreen TFT display offers a native resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels and an antiglare widescreen display that's perfect for color-minded professionals. The display is backlit by light emitting diodes (LEDs), which gives it a lighter weight and more power efficiency than the cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) which most notebooks employ. It's also better for the environment, thanks to its new mercury-free display.

Video and graphics are powered by the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT card, which is boosted by 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM. GDDR3 (Graphics Double Data Rate, version 3) is a graphics card-specific memory technology that's better able to deliver fluid frame rates for even the most advanced games and applications. The GeForce 8600M GT brings a new level of realism to the MacBook Pro with its 16-lane PCI Express architecture, 16x full screen anti-aliasing, 128-bit High Dynamic Range rendering, and a texture fill rate of up to 8.2 billion per second.

Video Conferencing with Built-in iSight
Artfully placed in the display bezel is an iSight camera, which enables easy video conferencing as well as allows you to snap pictures of yourself and create video podcasts. Using the iChat AV application, video conferencing is integrated into your iChat buddy list, so initiating a video conference is a breeze. iChat also lets you hold audio chats with up to 10 people and provides high-quality audio compression and full-duplex sound so conversation can flow naturally. For video podcasting, you can record a short clip using the iSight camera, then use iWeb to create a video blog entry or post your GarageBand-recorded podcast.

Connect to your network, a desktop monitor and all your peripherals with two USB 2.0, one FireWire 400, one FireWire 800, one DVI video output, and one Gigabit Ethernet.
Other Features
  • Two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400, one FireWire 800, ExpressCard/34 slot
  • DVI output port; VGA output using included DVI to VGA adapter
  • 8x slot-loading SuperDrive with the following write speeds: 8x DVD±R; 4x DVD±R DL (double layer); 4x DVD±RW; 24x CD-R; 10x CD-RW
  • Backlit keyboard with ambient light sensors for automatic adjustment of keyboard illumination and screen brightness
  • Internal omnidirectional microphone and built-in speakers
  • Combined optical digital output/headphone out (minijack)
  • Combined optical digital input/audio line in (minijack)
  • 60-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery (with integrated charge indicator LEDs) providing up to 6 hours of battery life
  • Kensington cable lock slot
  • Measures 14.1 x 9.6 x 1 inches (WxDxH) and weighs 5.4 pounds (including battery)

Preloaded with Leopard, you'll enjoy enhanced productivity and a clutter-free desktop (thanks to the redesigned 3-D Dock with Stacks).
Preloaded with Leopard and iLife '08
The biggest Mac OS X upgrade ever, the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system features over 300 new features, including:
  • Time Machine, an effortless way to automatically back up everything on a Mac
  • A redesigned Finder that lets users quickly browse and share files between multiple Macs
  • Quick Look, a new way to instantly see files without opening an application
  • Spaces, an intuitive new feature used to create groups of applications and instantly switch between them
  • A brand new desktop with Stacks, a new way to easily access files from the Dock
  • Major enhancements to Mail and iChat
Leopard's new desktop includes the redesigned 3-D Dock with Stacks, a new way to organize files for quick and easy access with just one click. Leopard automatically places web, e-mail and other downloads in a Downloads stack to maintain a clutter-free desktop, and you can instantly fan the contents of this and other Stacks into an elegant arc right from the Dock. The updated Finder includes Cover Flow and a new sidebar with a dramatically simplified way to search for, browse and copy content from any PC or Mac on a local network.

Time Machine lets you easily back up all of the data on your Mac, find lost files and even restore all of the software on their Mac. With just a one-click setup, Time Machine automatically keeps an up-to-date copy of everything on the Mac. In the event a file is lost, you can search back through time to find deleted files, applications, photos and other digital media and then instantly restore the file.

The MacBook also comes with the iLife '08 suite of applications that make it easy to live the digital life. Use iPhoto to share entire high-res photo albums with anyone who's got an e-mail address. Record your own songs and podcasts with GarageBand. Break into indie filmmaking with iMovie and iDVD. Then take all the stuff you made on your MacBook and share it on the web in one click with iWeb.

Included Software
Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard (includes Time Machine, Quick Look, Spaces, Spotlight, Dashboard, Mail, iChat, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, iCal, DVD Player, Photo Booth, Front Row, Xcode Developer Tools); iLife '08 (includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand); Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Test Drive; iWork '08 (30-day trial)

What's in the Box
MacBook Pro, 85W MagSafe Power Adapter, AC wall plug, and power cord, lithium-polymer battery, DVI to VGA adapter, display cleaning cloth, install/restore DVDs, printed and electronic documentation

Continue Read Apple MacBook Pro MB134LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop