HP nx8220 Review (page 2)

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Battery

The unit came with an 8-Cell, 69Wh high capacity Li-Ion battery that weighs approx 0.5–1lb.  An optional 8-Cell, 52Wh Li-Ion travel battery is also available that fits into the MultiBay II slot.  HP claims a runtime of 4.5hrs for the main battery and 4hrs for the travel battery.  As with most battery runtimes advertised by manufacturers, this should be taken with a grain of salt. 

In the process of performing my benchmarking tests on the nx8220, I also ran a utility called BatteryEater Pro v2.5.  This utility tests the runtime of a battery during a high drain scenario as well as the battery runtime of an idle system.

I wanted to see how all of the software and drivers installed by the manufacturer would affect the runtimes, so I performed the test twice.  Once with the original OS loaded by HP and the other using their OS Recovery CD (this CD loads just the OS without drivers or additional software).

I was completely shocked to see the improvement in the idle runtime of 39mins just by running a clean OS.  As this test shows, all of the drivers/utilities/software running in the background not only slows down the system and utilizes resources, but it also wastes battery power.  So HP’s claim of 4.5hrs of runtime is not exaggerated. 

On the tests with the manually loaded OS, the Classic test was run on a battery that was only 88% full, while the Factory OS battery was at 100%.  With the extra 12% of battery power, I’m confident it would have pushed over 120mins.

On the tests with the manually loaded OS, the Classic test was run on a battery that was only 88% full, while the Factory OS battery was at 100%.  With the extra 12% of battery power, I’m confident it would have pushed over 120mins.

System Configuration

HP Compaq nx8220

Factory OS Load

HP Compaq nx8220

Manual OS Load

BatteryEater Pro

          Classic

          Idle

          Recharge

 

100mins

212mins

127mins

 

114mins @88%

251mins

Same

 

** All system settings were set to default levels.

          Windows Power Management Settings

o        Laptop/Notebook

o        All Time Outs set to Never

          LAN connect for 50% of the Idle Battery test, then switched to wireless

          Bluetooth Enabled at the last 50% of the Idle test

          Screen Brightness set to default (lowest brightness)

 

Software, Guides & Accessories In the Box

 

          Windows XP Pro Operating System CD

          Application & Driver Recovery DVD

          InterVideo WinDVD Creator 2 CD (Full Version)

          MultiBay II Weight Saver

          Power Adapter & Cord

          RJ-11 Phone Cord

          Getting Started Guide

          Notebook Documentation CD

          HP Accessories Pamphlet

          HP Warranty & Support Booklet

          Worldwide HP Telephone Number Booklet

          WLAN Documentation

          End-User License Agreement

Accessories in the Box (Large Image)

The included software was very minimal.  InterVideo WinDVD, InterVideo WinDVD Creator (full version), Symantec Anti-Virus, Sonic RecordNow and HP Local Recovery by Altiris, was included as well as a full copy of Windows XP Professional.  All of the additional software that was included was mainly HP Tools for added system security.

The most noteworthy piece was the OS Recovery CD.  Some manufacturers provide Recovery CD’s that utilize a “snapshot” image of the drive’s contents.  This is a fast way to restore an OS to a system, but it tends to wipe out all of the user’s data on the drive.  In the event of an OS failure, this method would wipe all of the data off the drive, therefore eliminating the possibility of recovering the data & still having a functional OS. 

HP on the other hand, decided to provide a full OS CD & a separate application/driver DVD.  This allows the user to manually re-install their OS at a later time without having all of the extra applications and old drivers cluttering up the notebook.  Newer drivers can also be downloaded from the HP Support site and installed without worries that there might be a conflict with previous versions.  This also enables the user to repair an OS by installing on top of an existing OS.  It just replaces the OS files with a working version without wiping existing user data.

Customer Support

The HP Compaq nx8220 comes standard with a 1-year worldwide warranty for hardware and 90 days for software.  Telephone support is provided 24h a day, 7 days a week.  Other methods to obtain support are online via live chat with an HP Support rep as well as a self-help section or through HP’s support forums.

Extended service plans are also available to increase your warranty coverage beyond the standard 1-year service plan.  As an extra layer of protection, an Accidental Damage Protection plan can also be purchased.  This plan will cover most “accidents” that may occur to your notebook.  Extended service plans will pay for itself after your first major repair.

Complaints

Below are some issues/complaints I noticed while using the HP Compaq nx8220.

 

Design & Build:

There was one annoying item I noticed (as well as other nx8220 users/owners on www.NotebookReview.com) with the casing.  Some of the edges were a bit on the rough/sharp side.  One major edge was the cutouts for the LED’s on the left side of the palm rest.  While in a standard typing position, your wrists would scrape across the edges and would cause some irritation.  I found it annoying as soon as I felt something scrape across my wrists.  I just took a knife and rounded off the rough/sharp edges.  It only took me approx 30 seconds, but this should have been done at the factory.

LED Cutouts (Large Image)

LCD:

The WSXGA+ LCD used on the nx8220 and nc8200 series notebooks all seem to have a coating on it that makes solid white backgrounds look a bit muddy.  It’s like your screen is dirty or something, but cleaning it doesn’t help.  It’s possible that too much anti-glare coating was used on the screen.  Multiple users/owners of the nc/nx8200 series on www.NotebookReview.com have also noticed this problem. 

Also, light balance was not even on the screen.  Some of the corners seemed darker and the same goes for other areas of the LCD.  Looking at the LCD perfectly centered, the middle of the LCD was properly balanced, but the sides seemed dimmer. 

Unevenness of Backlight (Large Image)

Storage:

There was a high-pitched noise coming from the left side of the unit (approx under the shift key).  It mainly happened when running on battery power.  Multiple calls to HP Support yielded no results.  A similar issue on a different HP model was reported as a vibrating capacitor.  While testing the unit, the noise seemed to disappear if the Bluetooth module was enabled and turned on via HP’s Wireless Assistant.  However, enabling the Bluetooth module when it’s not needed, especially when you don’t have any Bluetooth devices, will decrease battery life by approx 10-15%.

While burning a DVD+R disc at 2.4x speed, I noticed that the write buffer would jump from 5% to 95% throughout the burn.  This raised some concerns, so I checked the configuration in Device Manager and I found that the HDD and DVD burner was connected to the same IDE Channel.  Not only that, I also noticed that there was only 1 IDE channel listed. 

I did a little digging and found that the Intel 915PM chipset used in this notebook is designed with only 1 Parallel ATA Channel and 2 Serial ATA Channels.  For reasons unknown to me, HP decided to use PATA devices in a system that supports SATA devices.  SATA devices have been reported to provide increased performance vs. PATA devices.

Processor & Performance:

Using the notebook on your lap may be a bit difficult as 2 of the air intake/exhaust vents on the underside of the unit are located right where your thigh would be positioned.  Blocking these vents may cause your system to heat up due to the lack of ventilation and that’s definitely not something you would want to do on a notebook.

Keyboard/Touchpad:

I was disappointed to find that HP opted not to include a Pointstick with the nx8220.  I personally prefer the Pointstick vs. a Touchpad.  I feel the Pointstick is much more accurate than the Touchpad.

With the “tapping” enabled, I did find that the Touchpad would, on occasion, not detect a tap or even detect when you’re attempting to scroll a page using the dedicated scroll zone.  I was successful on a subsequent attempt.

Customer Support:

While using the nx8220, I unfortunately had to contact HP’s Customer Support to try to resolve or at least answer some of my questions.  Sadly, out of the 5 Support Reps I spoke to, only 1 actually attempted to research my questions and issues to try to find a solution for me.  The other Support Reps gave answers that ranged from not caring to just completely wrong and not relating to the problem.

I’m not trying to single out HP’s level of Customer Support, as I have also had similar levels of service from other Level 1 Support Reps at different manufacturers, but this is disappointing to see in a company the size of HP.

If an L1 Rep can’t resolve the issue, it would get escalated to the next level.  I have noticed with previous calls to HP Support (not relating to the nx8220), that their

Upper level support reps are much more willing to research issues and provide possible suggestions that actually pertain to the problem at hand.

Pros:

  • Clean design & professional look
  • Sturdy Construction
  • Quiet Keyboard
  • Over 4hrs of battery life
  • Full Windows XP Pro OS CD
  • Great audio from speakers
  • Great CPU & video card performance
  • Size & Weight

Cons:

  • High-pitched noise from system board
  • Vent holes right where your lap would be positioned
  • LCD backlight uneven & looked muddy on solid white backgrounds
  • Ambient Light sensor ineffective
  • PATA devices used in a system that supports SATA
  • Level of service from Customer Support

Conclusion:

I’m sure the HP Compaq nx8220, with its fast processor, strong graphics and solid construction will be in the short list for anyone looking for a notebook.  It’s rare to find a notebook that has all the features one may need at an excellent price.  Currently HP Canada has reduced the price of the nx8220 to $2099CDN and for a limited time is also including a free upgrade to a 3 Year Worldwide warranty. 

Despite the LCD’s sub-par performance and poor customer support, I would still recommend anyone looking for a notebook to consider the HP Compaq nx8220.  Especially with all its power and features, it can double as a mobile workstation or even as a desktop replacement.

Rating Out of 10:

 

Design & Build

LCD

Audio

Storage

Processor & Performance

Keyboard/Touchpad

Input & Output Ports

Wireless

Battery

Software & Accessories

Customer Support

8

6

8

7

9

9

7

9

10

6

5

Overall Rating

7.6


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