HP is placing a lot of faith into its new business range of notebooks. Having decided that it made a number of mistakes with the previous version of the Compaq line, it has decided that safe is best. To this end, the HP Compaq nc6220 has that corporate “any colour as long as it's black” that has become synonymous with IBM. At first glance, you may well think that this is an IBM ThinkPad, but once you take a closer look you'll see that HP has opted for a slimmer tooling and small touches that give the Compaq nc6220 a flair all of its own.

The chassis feels strong in all areas, yet remains light, weighing 2.8kg and measuring 316 x 256 x 36mm. In a step that will keep the Compaq brand in line with all portables, HP has refreshed the nc6220 to use Intel's new Sonoma platform, which consists of the new 915 chipset for a faster Front Side Bus, increasing from 400MHz up to 533MHz, as well as supported improved graphics, audio and the use of PCI-Express.

Powered by an Intel Pentium M 740 processor, which runs at 1.73GHz, and supported by 512MB of memory and a 40GB hard drive, this isn't the fastest or most feature- packed notebook on the planet but it has enough to keep you ticking over.

In daily use we found the system ran incredibly smoothly, with even the most taxing of applications loading and saving with ease. If you're looking for a machine that can deliver more than just word processing and the occasional PowerPoint, this is a notebook that is worth checking out.

What's more, with a battery life in the region of five hours, we found that we could keep working for most of the day without needing to resort to recharging. So, if you need to be out of the office for long periods, or even don't want to go into the office at all, the Compaq nc6220 should keep you active with ease.

On the downside, you'll find that the integrated graphics card, which comes as part of Intel's new Sonoma platform may be OK for said PowerPoint but if you have to run any flashy demonstrations, you'll find the system will start to suffer.

In terms of usability, there's little to fault the HP. The keyboard is strong and well designed throughout, and makes for comfortable use. The inclusion of both a touchpad and pointing stick provide a choice of cursor operation, and raised rubberised mouse buttons make input easy and accessible. The addition of a DVD/CD-RW combination drive is a little below par but this can be upgraded with ease. With both Gigabit Ethernet for fixed connections and 802.11b/g for wireless networks, you'll be able to link with ease and speed to any available network.


Business users looking for conformity across the range will be impressed with what the Compaq nc6220 has to offer. Sure, it won't have anyone in the office claiming “I must have that one!” but anyone who gets given it will find it a durable and usable solution.