Good laptop for the money – Eric R. Drake
I’m not sure if anyone is interested in something this “old”, but since all
is relative and I continue to see specs on laptops that are similar to
mine….here’s a quick review of my Compaq Presario X1000
I searched and searched for what I felt was the perfect notebook (yes some
still call them notebooks). I really wanted something bigger, better,
faster. BUT, and this is a huge “but”, I also wanted to stay married, so
price, as with many was a huge factor. So I knew early on that “the
perfect notebook” was a bit out of reach.
With that in mind I decided to go out and hit all of the major vendors and see what they had as their top
of the line, knowing I was going to take a step or two back from that
threshold. I visited Dell, Gateway, Compaq, IBM and Sony. I lurked around
in Best Buy, Circuit City, Office Max and Office Depot. I scanned the web
for the “no one has ever heard of you brand names”.
I then stumbled upon these new (at the time) 15.4″ wide screen LCDs. To
understate it, I was stunned. So that was the first requirement on my
list. Next on my list was wireless technology and decent battery life. I
also had to have dedicated memory on the video card, not this shared
stuff. So with my list in hand, I began my search.
I quickly removed Dell
and Gateway from my list of possible vendors – I was hearing way too many
negatives about them. Next off the list were all the pricey vendors – bye
IBM, Sony, etc. I played around with an emachine at Best Buy, but
couldn’t find anyone that would customize it for me AND I was also hearing
mixed reviews about those.
I had a little $25 Staples gift certificate from my Discover credit
card burning a hole in my pocket, and I found out you could customize a
notebook at their site, so away I went. I figured I could get the features
I wanted, get rid of the ones I didn’t and come away with a price that I
was happy about. My budget was around $1500 – anything more and the wife
would be all over me (normally a good thing, but in this case not so much
of a good thing).
So the first thing I noticed was that Staples sells Compaq. I was OK with
that, having spent many years at the company I used to work for lugging
around Compaq notebooks. I even had one of the HUGE box-style portables,
where a regular size keyboard attached to the unit. I think these were
Compaq’s first attempt at portable computing back in the early 90’s. I
The next thing I noticed was the lack of AMD CPUs in the
notebooks. Darn. So I simply chose the cheapest “base” Presario (the
X1000 at the time) and started to remove/add features. I dumped the CD
burner and went for the DVD-ROM, dumped the extra memory so I could max-out
the Video graphics card with dedicated memory.
I went for the least amount
of hard drive space they had – 40 GB. Chose the “b” wireless, even though
they had the “g” – they just wanted way too much for the upgrade so I made a
sacrifice, figuring I could always add the PCMCIA card later on. I decided
not to buy the extra battery, figuring I could always find a cheap
knock-off later. No “free” bag, no extended warranties, no frills.
So here’s what I ended up with:
Compaq Presario X1000 (customized at staples.com):
- Intel M 1.3 Mhz
- 802.11b wireless (wish the “g” was cheaper and more popular at the time,
what ya gonna do)
- 256 MB RAM (figured I’d need more, but was willing to skimp on this at the time)
- 15.4″ widescreen LCD
- ATI Radeon Mobility 9200 w/64 MB (NOT shared – and the main reason I skimped
on system RAM)
- 40 GB HDD 7200rpm
- DVD-ROM (saved bucks by not getting a CDRW burner – figured I’d use my
- Free HP USB floppy drive
- Built in SD card reader
- 3 USBs, 4 pin firewire, built in JBL-Pro speakers etc.
I paid around $1,500 in August of 2003.
It was sent to me well within the range of the vendor’s shipping claim, and
was packaged very safe and secure. I pulled it out and it was up and running
within minutes. All the software was loaded and it took me about 5 minutes
to get my desktop’s MN-500 Wireless base station software installed.
So far I don’t really have any major regrets. Battery life is awesome, and
I have yet to buy a second battery. I suppose I wish I had upped the hard
drive space to something around 60 GB or 80 GB, but I have just learned to
not store a bunch of junk on it and just off-load it onto my desktop for
DVD-burning or storage.
Overall, I’m still pretty juiced on this notebook and have yet to get that
disappointed feeling you sometimes get after buying something, only to see
prices drop in the weekly newspaper advertisements for the
chain-stores. Something close to my config is around the $500 – $600
range now, but I have been able to use my notebook for 18 months, well
worth the price drop. I also see at least another 3 years of very useful
life out of it, until I will feel the need to HAVE to update it.
What can I say – I’ve had zero issues with it.
super-huge-mega-macro spreadsheets at it and it cruised right through
them. I’ve hooked up just about every USB device you can think of and it has
been rock solid. It has been OK on the wireless side of things, allowing me
to roam all over my home with only slight degradation of the connection
quality – this could be much better, but I’m satisfied for now.
has served as our rainy-camping-day entertainment center – DVD movies look
awesome on the 15.4″ wide screen and it’s handled the games I’ve thrown at it
(Tiger Woods 2004, Enemy Territory, etc).
The next notebook I buy may or may not be a Compaq (or HP), but I can tell
you this – it will be the first place I go as I start looking for my next
Until then, I’ll be waiting for the May/June 2005 time frame, when I’ll be
building my new desktop.
Eric R. Drake – aka TheDrake