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The Presario 2500 is a good looking piece of kit, even though it’s one of the largest laptops on the market. It has an excellent screen with a 1200 x 768 pixel resolution, which is large enough for everyone except perhaps a graphics designer. It also has a hard disk capacity of 30Gb, which is about 3 times more than most people will require, and 256Mb RAM (again, more than most people need). It has plenty of ports (3xUSB, modem, Firewire, serial, parallel, network, PCMCIA, s-video and PS2 keyboard etc) and an in-built trackpad if you don’t want to buy a mouse. My model has a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 desktop processor, which I find is fast enough to run several graphics design packages simultaneously. The other advantage is the in-built stereo JBL speakers – very good quality. In short – it does the job.
However, I’ve found a few major problems with my Presario.
First of all let’s talk about the constant, loud, head-bursting NOISE!! I believe the computer has three fans (1 CPU fan and two motherboard fans) and every one of them makes a high-pitched buzzing noise, with the occasional low-pitched rattle, all of the time. The noise level falls just short of a hoover. In many circumstances you may not notice the noise, especially if the computer is used in an office. However, I use the computer at home and I’ve actually had to switch the laptop off and then take some paracetemol – the noise is THAT loud! The reason for the constant fan noise is that the computer gets very hot, very quickly and must be cooled constantly. This is an important point to note: the fans must be constantly operating because the laptop uses a standard desktop Pentium processor – which is not optimised for mobile use and therefore runs very hot. Please be careful when you buy ANY laptop with a desktop processor – unless it is a very high quality (i.e. expensive) one, it will make a great deal of noise. In future I will be purchasing a laptop with a mobile Pentium chip, or one that implements the new Intel Centrino technology.
Secondly, the computer is very large. This isn’t a problem for me particularly, but it won’t make you look very cool when you sit it down next to the latest Apple Mac PowerBook, Sony or Dell laptop :-) It does weigh quite a lot, so you may find that carrying it around will some become tiring – and if you’re a business traveller your shoulders will quickly become sore from the carrying weight.
Thirdly, you must be very careful when storing and transporting the laptop, because the casing around the screen is very flimsy and can easily depress the screen against the keyboard. Thankfully I noticed the problem early enough and purchased some baize, which I slip in between the keyboard and the screen prior to closing the laptop. If you don’t do this, you will soon find an outline of your keyboard forever embossed into your screen – and the only way to fix it is to get your screen replaced.
Fourthly, keep a tube of superglue handy because you will have to repeatedly glue the rubber feet back onto the bottom of the laptop. There a four rubber feet, one in each corner on the bottom of the Presario – I’ve had to stick two back on.
Finally, both the trackpad and the CD-ROM drive malfunction on my laptop. The trackpad takes random moments of madness, where it completely disobeys the position of your finger and moves the mouse pointer in random, jerky movements across the screen :-(. Thankfully you can switch the trackpad off (I use a mouse now, unless I absolutely cannot). The CD-ROM drive makes hideous grinding, juddering noises every so often and then spits the CD out – very uncouth ;-) I’m getting both problems corrected under warranty, but it points to a more general problem with build quality – please beware!!
I would like to make one minor point about the marketing of the Presario. Please be aware that the video memory (which is normally quoted at 64Mb) is actually “borrowing” it’s memory from your RAM. When I was sold the laptop, the advertising literature said 256Mb RAM and 64Mb video memory – this is clearly not the case.
All-in-all the Presario will do the job, but only if you are willing to put up with a serious number of annoying build-quality and fan-noise issues. My recommendation is that you don’t bother and go find a better laptop (such as a Dell or Sony).
Please note that although I am always willing to accept that my laptop is experiencing "rare" and "isolated" issues, I now know that the fan noise is a common Compaq problem.
very good review. My first PC was a Compaq Presario and that was a very bad move. Like you pointed out, my 64MB of RAM was also being used up by the onboard graphics chip and upgrading it was a nightmare, the motherboard was layered with components all over the top of it and you could hardly get your hand inside!
stevie-boy 26.10.2003 17:05
A good op, but you need to include the product specs and put more emphasis and what this product is like for everyday use! Steve