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HP Pavilion n5440 Laptop

Laptop review and lifestyle change

Revised on

Originally posted on August 21st, 2001

Updates to this article...

We're not in Kansas anymore...

In The Beginning...

I switched from my desktop PC, a 1.4Ghz Intel tower with all kinds of goodies to live in the world of a laptop / notebook users shoes for a while.

Complaints so far; screen flickers a bit. seems to be some kind of power flux or something. I'm currently talking to HP about it. Other than that, it's a very nice piece of hardware.

One of the first things you notice is... no noise. The roar of the 4 fans from my tower system have been silenced. The little laptop computer just sits there on my Fellowes pedestal quietly computing. Sometimes you hear the whisper of the little one inch built in fan to aid in cooling the Pentium III CPU when it overheats and the giggle of the hard drive once in a while, but aside from that the only sounds are my big fingers pounding the keyboard. Interesting.

Going mobile has changed my life. Being portable is a kick. I can now haul all my data, drivers, accounting system, documents, spreadsheets all over the place. I can kick out an invoice to a client or take a payment right there are the office.

What being portable does most for me is functionality. When I go to a clients office to work on a database or something in the file structure, I can just log on to the network and work satellite mode. I don't have to kick the client off his computer for me to fix something. Nice. I can also use the laptop to backup my clients PC. The 5440 has a ATA66 4200 rpm 20gb drive. With that I can backup my clients data to my laptop for later archiving at home while I sleep.

My DeskThe 15 inch screen on the laptop is big enough for me. I didn't think it would be, but after using it for a week now it seems just as good as a monitor. I was on a 17 inch Samsung SyncMaster 755 CRT monitor. and think of all that power I'm saving. I also have to say something about the light level. A CRT monitor is like a big bright light light bulb sitting there in front of you while you work. That light shoots straight out at you. That is one of the leading causes to eye strain. Using this laptop screen is much easier on my eyes. My desktop space has improved as well. There just seems to be all kinds of pluses to using a laptop. I did notice that when using Photoshop the image when enlarged did seem a bit better on my Samsung monitor at high rez than the laptop screen when I connected the monitor to the monitor port on the back of the laptop.

The 5440 is slower than my powerhouse 1.4Ghz. All my programs load in 1 second or less unless I'm multitasking, then you really see a difference. For instance, when I'm editing the webpage and then I want to burn a CD, you see a 40% reduction in overall speed. The tower handled this kinda thing very well.

I can play my two favorite games, Unreal Tournament & Total Annihilation on the net and with not much speed and graphic respectiveness, screen jerkiness or performance issues. There is one thing that kinda bugs me. While using the laptop all day editing MikesHardware and my daily work, I noticed I have to reboot more often than the tower system. Keep in mind though, I'm using Windows ME that came with the 5440 and on my tower I used Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP beta RC2. I also had 256mb of Rambus memory on that tower system and the laptop here has a poultry 128mb (I plan to upgrade to 512mb).

Did I have to order anything to equal the functionality of my tower? Yes. I ordered a Port Replicator to aid me in quick setups from when I come and go to clients offices, a 30gb USB hard drive from BusLink for archiving and Ghosting clients PCs and a HP CDRW drive to make my own CDs. If I haven't mentioned it yet, all these devices are external devices. I picked up the Port Replicator for $165, the 30gb USB drive for $169 and the HP CDRW for $179. Not bad. I got all these from Their prices we're a tad higher than the other sites I found them on but when I called PCMall for a price match, they we're glad to match any advertised price on the net. Now that's cool. In case you're interested I got all my stuff from Larry at PCMall 800-863-3282x4248. Tell him sent you. My tower system had 3 40gb drives (all ATA100 IBM Deskstar's), a Plextor CDRW, ATI Radeon DDR 64, DAT tape drive, Iomega Jazz 1gb, and a Adapter SCSI card. I think with all the new devices I ordered I should be as functional as my tower system, if not more with portability.

One of the things I do miss is my Cambridge Soundworks 5 speaker sound system. My tower system had a Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live MP3 sound card. With that I could connect a 5 point surround sound system that was very nice for listening to music. I must admit it was kinda hard to blast the tunes when a client called, but once in a while it was nice to be able to crank the sound up and jam a bit. The laptop has a little 16bit SoundBlaster emulating PolkAudio sound card with the external speaker connector on the front making it difficult to connect speakers.

I still use my Logitech Mouse & Keyboard. I had to get a special connector for the laptop because the PS2 mouse/keyboard port on the back of the laptop is just that. One connector. On your desktop unit you have two connectors. One for the keyboard and one for the mouse. So I had to buy a $5 "Y" connector specially made to connect a mouse/keyboard to one port on the back of a laptop.

I'm really going to question the use of desktop computers. This laptop portability thing is growing on me.


08.31.01 - After connecting all the new gizmos, the HP CDRW and the BUSlink through the HP Port Replicator I see a noticeable speed difference. Unfortunately in the wrong direction. I'm currently looking into speeding up the system now. Now the fun begins.

08.30.01 - My Port Replicator, 30gb USB BusLink drive and HP CDRW 8200 arrived from UPS today. I spent a great deal of time connecting everything, reading the manuals and getting used to all this new technology.

My final version of Windows XP arrived from Microsoft as well. So, I decided to Ghost my lappy to the D: drive and start installing... XP did load, but I forgot about one very important thing. Drivers. XP did a wonderful job detecting everything on the laptop but I didn't have any drivers for the external HP CDRW or the 30gb BusLink external hard drive. Since I kinda would'a like to use this things, I had to Ghost that install of XP for later and try Windows 2000 Professional.

The Best OS
Now the real tech experience begins... Installing Win2K from the bootable CD was a pain at best. Oh it loaded itself okay, I just had to go find every little freaking driver for every little freaking component on the dam laptop! HP had a special download pack for all the drivers but it's not for the novice. You can't just click on this and expect everything to load. You have to do it in a special order; Video, Sound, LAN connection, special HPAC driver for multimedia, etc. I spent the day figuring this out. Hp also has a supplemental driver on its driver download for the n5440 that has to be loaded after you figure this all out because when its all done and you have all the drivers loaded, you'll hear a hissing noise coming from the laptop speakers. The updated driver from HP helped this. All said, installing 2K on this laptop was a pain. Anyway, once I had everything loaded it really seemed to run much better than Windows ME. The windows popped up quicker and I didn't have to reboot everytime I updated 4 webpages on Mikeshardware. I recommend the tooth pulling to get 2K on your laptop. Do note though; you must do a clean install. Attempting a upgrade is fruitless.



Pros & Cons of moving from my desktop to the laptop world:


  • Portability.
  • Saves Power.
  • Quite.
  • Battery backup: When the power goes out, I can still keep going for 2 1/2 hours! Nice little feature. To work that long on a desktop with all those power hungry devices, you'll have to pop down about $1000 for a battery backup that has the staying power of a laptop.


  • Expensive: You can buy 2 good desktop systems for the price of one laptop.
  • Potential theft problem.
  • Everything is external. Wires everywhere. Really messy.
  • Poor quality sound.
  • Hard to upgrade. Removing the little parts that hold in everything can be very tedious. It's not like popping in a new hard drive in a desktop unit. You have to be very delicate with all the fragile parts inside and around a laptop. You'll also need a set of those jewelers tools to remove those very tiny screws.
  • Keyboard on laptop is hard to get used to when on the road.
  • When I rest my hands on the front of the laptop when typing, the plastic seems to creak a bit. Doesn't seem as solid as the HP moniker.
  • Can't copy between USB devices. (problem with burning a CD from another USB device)
  • Sound Card background noise problems.


System Summary

850 MHz Intel Pentium III
15-inch XGA TFT display
128 MB SDRAM memory
20 GB hard drive
Network interface card
Windows Millennium Edition

Detailed Description

  • 850 MHz Mobile Intel Pentium III processor with SpeedStep technology
  • 15-inch XGA TFT display (1024 x 768 resolution)
  • 128 MB SDRAM memory (upgradable to 512 MB)
  • 100 MHz memory speed
  • 32K primary cache, 256K secondary cache
  • 20 GB hard drive (total accessible capacity varies depending on operating environment)
  • 8x DVD-ROM
  • 3Com, built-in, mini-PCI, 56 Kbps V.90 modem and 10/100 Ethernet card
  • 3.5-inch, 1.44 MB floppy disk drive
  • S3 Savage IX 128-bit AGP graphics card with 3-D hardware acceleration, composite TV-out support and simultaneous display
  • 8 MB dedicated video memory
  • 16-bit Soundblaster Pro compatible sound card
  • Polk Audio dual, built-in stereo speakers and acoustic chamber
  • PC card slots: 2 type I or type II slots, or 1 type III slot
  • 2 USB ports
  • 1 serial port
  • 1 parallel port
  • 1 composite TV-out port
  • 1 port replicator connector
  • 1 RJ-11 modem port
  • 1 RJ-45 Ethernet port
  • 1 FIR port
  • 1 microphone and 1 headphone port
  • 1 PS/2 mouse and keyboard port
  • Kensington lock compatible
  • 87/88-key, full-size, embedded numeric keyboard and 12 function keys
  • Touch pad on palm rest with on/off and scroll keys
  • 4 user-programmable one-touch buttons
  • Universal AC adapter
  • Built-in lithium ion battery
  • Dimensions: 13.46"L x 10.92"W x 1.65"H
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • 90-day software support; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • 1-year limited hardware warranty

Software included:

  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition
  • DVD software: Mediamatics DVD Express
  • Internet: AOL, Earthlink, Prodigy, Microsoft Outlook Express, Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • Productivity and finance: Microsoft Works 6.0, Microsoft Money 2001, Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0
  • Education and reference: Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia
  • Entertainment: HP Speedway 3-D game, Space Rocks 3-D game, Blasterball 3-D game, Checkers 3-D game
  • Music software: MusicMatch MP3 player




5440 specs