Compaq has gone full circle from underdog giant killer in the 1980’s (IBM) to a large lumbering giant that eventually became a victim of its own success. However, under a new leadership and revitalized product portfolio, Compaq is now a rejuvenated brand for notebooks and desktops, even if it has since been renamed as HP Compaq. Having gained a modest reputation for producing mobile workhorses, the latest HP Compaq offering we're looking at today is the 6515b, a business notebook with a dash of attitude and surprises.
As it's geared for the business sector, the HP Compaq 6515b Notebook PC can look rather basic at first glance. The Spartan image is not helped by the fact that there are virtually no frills located on all its black and grey panels. The upside is its sturdy construct, giving it a welcomed quality of build. Visible though are your standard USB 2.0 ports (all four of them), a 4-pin Firewire port, DVD writer, ExpressCard Slot, memory card reader and audio in/out jacks. It's only when the LCD cover is lifted does one get to see the office features and some creature comforts that are quite unexpected of a workhorse.
The first question that will probably spring to mind upon lifting the LCD cover is "Where are all the shortcut keys?" Borrowing its concept from HP notebooks, the HP Compaq 6515b Notebook PC now employs a discreet row of inconspicuous touch sensitive "buttons" that although isn't as intricate as the HP’s DV series of notebooks still functions just as intended. The touch sensitive keys include shortcuts to setup the notebook for presentations (i.e. dual display), activating wireless connection, accessing propriety software and adjusting volume. Notably, the power on/off button is not touch sensitive for the obvious of preventing users from accidentally turning off their notebooks.
A pleasant surprise awaits anyone who eventually ventures to the ExpressCard slot. What looks to be another dummy insert is actually a fully functional Bluetooth wireless mouse.
Simply turn it over on its belly, flip out the "legs" and you'll instantly have a wireless mouse to use. Charging is done simply by slotting the mouse right back into its ExpressCard abode. When put to the test, the Bluetooth mouse was very usable, with the retractable legs giving it a comfortable angle of elevation. There is one drawback though. Due to the slim design, the mouse does not have a scroll wheel for fast vertical scrolling of documents or webpages. A traditional mouse is still required if the lack of a scroll wheel is unacceptable to you.
The HP Compaq 6515b Notebook PC that we had in our hands came configured with an AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-64 processor (2.20GHz), 2GB of DDR2 RAM, a 120GB hard drive, an ATI Radeon Xpress 1270 graphic solution and a bundled version of Windows Vista Business edition. Although Windows Vista graded the notebook 3.0 out of 5.9 on the Windows Experience Index (a victim of its discreet graphic solution pulling down overall results), business minded users need not worry as the notebook was found to quick in the battery of office applications we threw in its direction. Another notable mention was the notebook’s 14.1-inch matte screen. This is a brilliant screen we think will be well received by seasoned business travelers over fancy glossy screens with reflections and glare that are impossibly hard on the eyes.
Apart from its decent hardware configuration and creature comforts such as the touch sensitive shortcuts and discrete but functional Bluetooth mouse, this 2.27kg notebook certainly comes with staple business features IT managers and executives would appreciate. From the rugged housing, HP's 3D DriveGuard (hard drive protection), TPM 1.2 Embedded Security Chip, matte display screen to the onboard biometric scanner, everything just seems to come together nicely for this business oriented notebook. Starting at about US$899 (SGD$1,363), the HP Compaq 6515b Notebook PC represents great value as well, which makes it even harder to give it a miss.