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The forgivably plain look of the HP Compaq 6710b (GE821PA) clearly states the fleet style, workhorse aspirations of this business focused notebook. Although it's one of the slower performers out of the new Centrino notebooks we've tested, it's also the cheapest, and is certainly no couch potato. The rigid and sturdy design feels like it's up to a bit of travelling and seems like it will take a few knocks.
- Price, Speakers, Sturdy build
- No draft-n Wi-Fi, Could have had more comprehensive maintenance software
Although the HP Compaq 6710b is not at the top of the game, it's a good value for money option. The included software could have been a little more comprehensive, but this simple notebook still does what it needs to do reasonably well.
Price$ 1,399.00 (AUD)
A T7100 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU has been installed with and 800MHz front side bus (FSB), giving this unit more bandwidth to ferry data around; a good start. The only downside of this CPU over others in the range is the smaller 2MB L2 cache. Two 512MB sticks of DDR2 RAM are installed, though a maximum upgrade of up to 4GB is possible. Graphics are a low priority, so Intel's onboard Intel X3100 graphics chip has been used, which will handle the most basic needs comfortably. A copy of Windows Vista Business edition runs the show and there's a minimal set of HP software to assist with setup and maintenance, though it's not as comprehensive as products such as the Lenovo 3000 N200 (0769).
Only 80GB of hard drive space is available, but a DVD re-writer with LightScribe labelling technology is also installed for additional storage requirements. LightScribe lets you insert special discs, which it can burn custom labels to using the drive's laser. A biometric fingerprint reader sits on the main, black and dark blue chassis, but there's no Webcam, despite the growing trend in business notebooks. HP has included some backup and recovery software for peace of mind.
The HP Compaq 6710b has a 15.4in LCD screen which offers reasonable contrast, but lacks somewhat in brightness. The viewing angle is no better or worse than most, which is to say, it's not great but it will suffice. Despite its distinctive lack of entertainment features, the internal speakers are actually quite loud and produce a fairly crisp sound when watching DVDs. This can be great if you're stuck on the road without any other entertainment. The volume can be controlled via a touch sensitive slider.
As we've mentioned, the HP Compaq 6710b isn't at the top of the class for performance. In WorldBench 6 it scored a total of just 59. All other notebooks with the new Centrino platform (codenamed Santa Rosa) have scored a bare minimum of 70, though the extra score carries a notably larger cost. We feel that for the price, this is a fair and reasonable result and we expect this system to handle most common tasks well enough.
In our MP3 encoding test the slower scores continued. We converted 53 minutes of WAV files using two applications and two levels of compression. Using Cdex, a single-threaded application we converted to 192Kbps MP3 files, which took the 6710b 164 seconds. Using iTunes, a multi-threaded application (utilising both cores of the CPU), and compressing to 56Kbps (more compression is harder work) took the 6710b 98 seconds. Neither of these scores are particularly good, but again, they reflect the price.
In our battery tests the HP Compaq 6710b performed better than the average, lasting 96 minutes in our DVD rundown test. The DVD rundown test is a worst case scenario test because the speakers and the optical drive are used throughout in addition to the main components, so we expect the system to last longer under normal circumstances.
Connectivity is fairly standard with a total of four USB 2.0 ports, one mini FireWire port and a set of audio jacks. A 5-in-1 media card reader is included, supporting SD, MMC, MS, MS-Pro and XD cards. One PC Card slot has been installed, which also supports smart cards, and there two video output options; VGA and S-Video. The system has Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g but not draft-n, a 56k modem and gigabit Ethernet. The keyboard is fairly comfortable to type on and the touchpad is responsive.
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