Compaq Presario 2232US Notebook

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A CompUSA Deal – How good? – Joe

SUMMARY: A good buy at $375, questionable at $930.

Compaq

I was reading the Sunday paper and came across a CompUSA ad – buy the Compaq Presario 2232US before 2:00 PM today and get this laptop for a net cost of $500; regular price about $930. Hmmm… the wife’s birthday is coming up and she wants her own laptop, so I hustled off to check it out.

They had one on display and I started to play with it – within seconds a salesperson sidles up to me and starts to extol its features. I politely tell him to come back in about ten minutes, and he obliges by discreetly watching me from a distance. Almost to the second, he returns for the kill.

I was satisfied that this was an OK machine for the wife, but not for me (reasons later). The he tells me about the other goodies I can get as part of this deal:

The Deal (Pre-tax)

Item

“Regular” Price

Rebates & Price Breaks

Net Price

Compaq 2232US

$930

$430

$500

Epson CX4600 Printer

$130

$130

$0

Netgear Router

$70

$70

$0

Backup Now Software

$80

$80

$0

Norton SystemWorks 2005

$80

$80

$0¹

TOTAL

$1,290

$790

$500

After Selling Printer and Router ($125)

$1,290

$915

$375

¹With Norton’s Upgrade Rebate, which I could use.

What’s wrong with this picture? The last part – selling the printer and router – cinched it for me (these were sold within a few days). I took the software because it cost nothing, so why not?

The Compaq Presario 2232US key features:

  • Intel Celeron M 1.4 GHz, 400 MHz FSB
  • 256 MB PC2100 DDR, 1024 max, 2 RAM slots
  • Centrino chipset
  • 15″ XGA TFT LCD, 1024 x 768, 250:1 contrast ratio
  • Intel ® Extreme Graphics 2, 64 MB shared video memory
  • 802.11 b/g wireless
  • DVD/CD-RW optical drive, 128 KB cache
  • 40 GB HD, 4200 rpm
  • RJ-45 ethernet plug
  • RJ-11 modem
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • PCMCIA slot
  • External monitor VGA 15 pin plug
  • Audio-out headphone, Audio-in microphone
  • Approximately 3 hours on internal battery
  • Dimensions 12.96″(L) x 10.72″(W) x 1.69″(H)
  • Weight 6.7 lbs

Notebooks that are similar: HP Pavilion ze4900 Notebook PC, HP Compaq nx9040, nx9030, and nx9020 Notebook PC, Compaq Presario 2200 Series Notebook; for more details: Compaq Presario 2232US Notebook PC

What pleased me to no end support documents available – these include a detailed Maintenance and Service Guide and Reference Guide: Presario 2200. I can’t tell you how welcome it is to see exactly how to dissassemble this notebook (the manual shows screw sizes and locations!); some others do not provide end users with this level of detail:

Removal

The manual also indicates a CPU upgrade path:

CPUs

For HP Pavilion ze4900, HP Compaq nx9040, nx9030, nx9020, and Compaq Presario 2200; numbers to the right are HP part numbers.

If you’re so inclined, looks like you can pep this unit up a bit; the CPU mounts in a ZIF socket

CPU Removal

I also found this interesting table:

Static

This is why you’re supposed to wear a wrist-strap when working on a PC.
{mospagebreak}

A Quick Look

Just in case you forget who makes this:

Top

The back – not much here – two USBs, ethernet and VGA plug:

Back

Right side – removable CD/RW DVD player:

R Side

Left side – CPU vents, modem jack, PCMCIA slot and audio plugs:

L Side

The Bottom – the battery compartment is at the lower left, RAM in the middle and mini-PCI slot holding the wireless card at the right:

Bottom

Two RAM slots – a nice touch: the cover’s screws are held in place by washers, you can’t lose them:

RAM

The “One Touch” buttons – I still can’t program these successfully:

One Touch

This is the one area that annoys me – there is no software on the Recovery CD to program these buttons, and there is no utility on the unit as shipped. I used HP/Compaq’s on-line chat tech help and after three attempts, I finally got a link to download the right software for One-Touch buttons. Still does not work for me.

This is not a biggy, but perhaps indicates the level of support you might get for a new product. Luckily the Service Manual refers to these keys and I used this reference to point the techs in the right direction (they continued to confuse the soft keys with these hard keys).
{mospagebreak}

Performance

I ran PCMark4 to get some idea of relative performance and got the following score:

PCMark4:   2271

Considering the top socre on the site is 8591 (with a P4 4.2 GHz), you get some idea of where this laptop fits in the scheme of things. Certainly not a barn-burner and not expected.

However, I did play a movie on it and it held up OK; there was no stumbling or hesitation, although I thought the colors were “muddy” and not very contrasty in daylight, better in normal room light at night. Further, I could see definite “striping” and jagged edges in the frames, not annoyingly so but noticeable.

Last, I think the viewing angle is fairly narrow – as you move off-center, the image gets “dull” fairly quickly.

The Good and Not So Good

The Good:

  • Name brand support
  • Great documentation
  • Built in wireless
  • CPU can be upgraded (major disassembly required)
  • Lots of software (although some are trial versions only)
  • Very quiet – fan is not noticeable during normal use
  • Decent battery life (about three hours)
  • Easy to add RAM and change HD

Not So Good:

  • Large 15″ LCD wasted at 1024 x 768 resolution
  • Shared video (64 MB)
  • LCD not the best (250:1 contrast)
  • Keyboard has a “plastic” feel (very subjective comment)
  • Plastic case
  • Small buffer CD ROM
  • HD @ 4200 rpm
  • No firewire, serial or parallel ports
  • LARGE!
  • HEAVY!

CONCLUSIONS

For what it is, this is a good buy at $375 (even $500 is not too bad); anything over that, IMHO you can do better, especially with some careful eBay shopping for a used unit (the Compaq 2232US is being sold on eBay now by people who took the deal for a quick eBay sale).

Personally, I find the 15″ LCD at 1024 x 768 too large – I feel like I have to move further back for comfortable viewing, putting the keyboard almost beyond arm’s reach. In addition, it’s noticeably less contrasty than a better screen – I’m used to my Sharp MV12W and Actius PC-A290 – these are very good and easy on the eyes.

I think this unit is closer to a DTR rather than a portable – way too big and heavy to lug around airports (at least for me).

The shared video does exact a performance hit – not really noticeable for “normal” use but could be an issue for high-cycle apps (although this machine is not a serious contender for such use). Even a CPU upgrade won’t get you to high performance territory. The cheapest upgrade is 256 MB RAM – should not cost more than $50. Any more than that, the money you throw at it is better spent buying a better laptop.

However, I did use the on-line chat tech support and found it a very nice feature; the manuals are very thorough and any hardware junkie could strip this easily. Hard drive access is excellent.

Overall, at the right price, a good buy.

Note: Compaq FAQs

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