by Steve Jordi
The HP Compaq 6730b is the "business" edition of the 6730 laptop line recently released by HP. Business means balanced mobility and power. There is a 6730w for "workstation replacement" and 6730s as an entry product.
It's priced in the $1,000-$1,690 range, depending on the configuration. My model was bought in Switzerland and came only in two flavors: with a 15.4" WSXGA+ screen (1680x1050) or WXGA (1280x800). I picked the WSXGA+ since I have been working with this resolution for about six years now.
HP Compaq 6730b review unit specifications:
Build and Design
This is a "business" machine. The HP Business line, in my opinion, never really offered attractive models, and
this one is no real surprise. It seems to have the same case as the nc8430 but they added that nice DuraFinish
coat on the palm rest area. This adds up to the sexy look.
The machine seems very solid, the finish is professional. The screen also seems solid even though I always open it carefully, as I would do on any laptop anyway. The deception comes from the CD/DVD tray which definitely feels like a cheap plastic toy. Don't know how long this will last before breaking.
I also had difficulties to actually feel where the open button is located without really actually looking at it. Once I found it, I still have sometimes a hard time pressing it until the unit opens. Closing it also causes problems as I quite often had to try this four or five times before it locked into the unit. This may be related to that specific unit I have and not to a line-wide problem though. I found a way to close it immediately by just putting pressure with my fingers at the side near the back of the laptop.
It came with no dead pixels at all. This is good especially when you think about the 1680x1050 resolution. The screen is mate, and very clear. It's a real pleasure to work on it (I sometimes spend 14 hours in front of it without eye strain). Watching DVDs on-screen is also a pleasant experience. Probably not as much as the HP DV line dedicated to multimedia experiences in the family, but still, it's good.
As always on a LCD screen I tweak it using Microsoft ClearType. As far as I know, it doesn't leak. I didn't notice any light smearing on the sides of the screen as you may have on other models. Of course, an LCD screen means that the brightness and quality of image varies a lot depending on the viewing angle. But once you adjust it to the picture quality you like, it's very nice.
Testing the flexibility of the screen frame came as no surprise. You can see distortions in the lightness of the image but the global feeling is that it feels resistant. I tried to apply finger pressures on the back of the screen and I saw minimal artifacts on the LCD.
There are two rubber pressure points on the keyboard that tend to actually touch the screen's surface when you close the laptop, so you sometimes see some marks left on the screen, but nothing bothering.
Speakers and Multimedia
This is the BIG surprise of the laptop. I never actually had such great speakers. These ones offer a wide range of frequency and the bass are excellent and deep. This is the first time I'm actually impressed by built-in speakers ... especially when you think the laptop is dedicated to business more than home entertainment.
The speakers are located at the front of the case and close to the center of it. I always hook my laptop to external speakers since I dock it to the station, but I travel a lot too and the speaker quality is a plus when spending nights in hotels, watching movies on my laptop.
If you're into video conferencing or blogging, you will enjoy having a built-in webcam at the top of the screen. From my experience, it's sufficient for video conferencing using Skype, but don't expect it to be of much help if you want something more solid. The resolution is VGA (640x480), period. Nothing more. And the quality is not tremendous. I managed to configure it for backlight compensation to improve the quality of the image while in a conference. But hey, you still can hook a better device. At least now, while traveling I don't need an extra toy in my laptop bag, no more cables running around and no need to sacrifice a USB port. It's very convenient to have it built in even though it comes as a standard in most today's laptops (and at better resolutions).
One nice thing though are the microphones. Yes, with an "s". You have two microphones for stereo recording. They're located across the top of the screen on the left and right of the integrated webcam.
As said, the tray really looks cheap and it's doubtful that it will last on the long term. But at least the DVD/CD drive is handling most of today's formats and is dual layer (DVD+/–RW SuperMulti DL). Also, it embeds HP's LightScribe technology to burn grayscale images labels directly on the DVD (on LightScribe ready media of course). The provided LightScribe labeler software is a bit light, included with the Roxio suite and I would recommend you to upgrade it to the full version (it's only about $12.95 for the downloadable version). This way you will be able to write nearly anything, in any way that suits you instead of being stuck with some imposed non editable templates (circular titles only for example).
On the user side, one might regret that the notebook doesn't come with at least one empty LightScribe CD/DVD as a demo. It's usually provided with DVD drives. So you will have to go to the local retail store to buy a media box. You won't be able to play with it and impress the friends and family right out of the box. Also if you want a Blue-Ray DVD, you'll have to get it as an option.
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