Compaq Presario v2418AU Review (pics, specs)

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by Abhishek Das – Auckland, New Zealand

Compaq V2000 Review — V2418AU (Australia / New Zealand Model)

Compaq v2000 being reviewed (view larger image)

My previous laptop was the accomplished HP NX7010 business end laptop and I had only been using it for a short while before deciding to go in for a slightly smaller notebook. I will be going to school soon and was in need of a light and compact notebook to use at the campus and while the NX7010 is a great notebook, it can hardly be classified as a light or compact notebook.

Using the NX7010 over the past fast few months made me realize that it is a machine capable of so much more than what I was using it for. I do not do any graphic or processor intensive work and ever since I bought my Xbox last year, I’ve stopped pc gaming altogether. I realized most budget laptops of today would be able to meet my most spartan of computer needs. I would mainly use the computer for typing up college assignments, watching movies and surfing the net. The search began for the perfect laptop.

Below are the specs of my Compaq V2000:

  • AMD Sempron Processor 3000+ (1.8GHz)
  • 128KB Level-2 Cache
  • Microsoft Windows XP Homes (Service Pack2)
  • 256MB DDR SDRAM (333MHz) — (Upgradeable to 2GB)
  • 40 GB Hard drive (4200 rpm)
  • Dual Layer 8X DVD RW/ R
  • High speed 56K modem
  • 54g 802.11b/g WLAN with 125HSM*/ Speedbooster and Broadrange support
  • ATI Radeon Xpress 200M (up to 32MB shared with 256MB system memory)
  • Ports: (1) 6-in-1 Digital Media Reader slot, (1) IEEE 1394 port, (1) S-video port, (1) VGA port, (1) Port Replicator connector, (1) Headphone, (1) External Microphone, (1) AC power connector, (1) RJ-11, (1) RJ-45, (3) USB 2.0 ports
    (1) Type I/II PC Card Slot with support for 16-bit PCMCIA and 32-bit Cardbus
  • 6 cell Li-on battery
  • Altec Lansing branded speakers
  • Dimensions: 3.89cm(H) x 33.40cm(W) x 23.06cm(D)
  • 2.44kgs (5.38pounds)

Reasons for Buying:

I have always been partial to the HP/Compaq line of notebooks. I love the way they design their notebooks and since I wasn’t about to buy a particularly powerful machine I was sure that price & looks would take precedence over my decision. I had narrowed down my choices to the HP DV1000 and the Compaq V2000 from their budget range of laptops. I live in New Zealand and HP only sells pre configured laptops in this country unlike in the US where you can configure them based on your needs and buy them off their website. The cheapest DV1000 laptop (Intel 1.5GHZ Celeron) was a full $400 NZD more than the V2000, albeit with the added quickplay feature, lightscribe DVD drive, 60GB hard disk and Bluetooth. While I prefer the look of the DV1000 over the V2000, I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much extra for a few features I would hardly use (especially the quickplay feature). In the end it took me less than a week to finally decide on the V2000 and I paid 1100NZD for it, which is about 770USD.

Build & Design:

The build quality is just about average, which is what I was expecting it to be. The frame is almost entirely made out of hard plastic and is reasonably sturdy. The top of the laptop is made of a hard black scratch resistant plastic and seems to hold up quite well. When I push at the back, a few ripples can be seen on the screen though. The Compaq V2000 has a slightly understated look in comparison with its more attractive cousin — the HP DV1000. The inside is colored in silver paint and the overall color scheme (black outside and silver inside) is the exact inverse of the HP DV1000. The keyboard is grey/white in color which concerned me a bit, as it would be tougher to keep clean. I normally prefer black keyboards but this white one is starting to grow on me. The laptop is nicely weighted and I can open the screen with one hand unlike my previous laptop where I had to hold the bottom down with one hand and then lift the screen.

Top view of v2000 (view larger image)

I do have a couple of complaints on the design though.

Firstly, I absolutely hate the locking mechanism of this laptop. It is very clunky and makes an awful sound when closing the lid. It also takes a little force to ensure that the lid is locked in place.  I prefer my laptops to open and close without sound and it fails miserably in this area. I guess that is one of the downfalls of a budget laptop. I now find myself pressing the latch release button just before closing the lid to avoid that god-awful clickety sound. Once it is locked in place, there is still a bit of gap between the screen and the bottom — large enough to squeeze a couple of pages of paper though it.

Secondly, as has been expressed by many people in their reviews and in forums- the DVD tray has not been designed well. It closes flush with the bottom and when you try to pick it up from the sides, you end up pushing the dvd tray up and into the laptop. It’s all the more worrying when you are burning or reading a disk and then try picking up the laptop. I once did that while burning a disk and it emitted a slightly high pitched whirr than normal, which frankly scared the crap out of me. I now avoid that area altogether and pick it up from the top left corner and the bottom right corner.

Overall, build quality is not one of the strong points of this laptop.

Screen:

v2000 screen front view (view larger image)

Ahh, that gorgeous, gorgeous screen. My previous laptop, the HP NX7010 had a matte finish screen and while that was quite good, it would pale in comparison to the quality of this screen. It comes with the brightview option in a widescreen format. The colors are very vibrant and crisp and it makes watching dvds a very pleasurable experience. The few photos I have taken of the screen don’t do justice to how good it really is. The screen is almost like a mirror as you can see in the photos and while it may annoy some people, I do not find it bothersome at all. This laptop comes in a 1280 X 768 native resolution, which is perfect for reading text documents, etc. There is plenty of screen space and two documents can be viewed simultaneously side by side without any problems. I ran a program called dead pixel buddy and could not find any dead pixels….yippee! The viewing angles however are a bit limited; especially the vertical angle and I find that I need to get the screen angle just right when watching a movie from about 6feet away. When sitting at my desk, I find that I need to push the screen back a bit to get the perfect picture. Horizontal angles are not bad and two people can sit side by side and watch a movie, no problem.

The v2000 has an amazingly bright screen with vivid colors (view larger image)

Close in of screen (view larger image)

Speakers:

The speakers do an amazing job and I am very impressed by their performance. The speakers are made by Altec Lansing and are positioned at the front of laptop. This design feature is very clever and you can close the lid and still listen to music without any loss of sound. The speakers recreate sounds accurately and there is no sound distortion even when I crank up the volume to a very high setting. Of course, they still lack a bit of bass and while I’m not suggesting that you throw away your external speakers, I think they do a quite a fine job.

Processor and Performance:

The 1.8GHz Sempron processor is able to perform most routine tasks with comfortable ease. The Compaq V2000 came with 256MB of RAM running at 333MHz. After a days use, I noticed the performance was not as fast as it could be and decided to purchase an extra 512MB stick to complement the performance. And what a difference it has made!! The performance is much better and applications open and close with hardly any delay. I hope to increase the RAM to 2GB in the future when my budget permits; till then this would have to suffice. A hardcore gaming laptop this is not but I had a demo version of Need for Speed Underground and I could play the game at medium setting at full 1280 X 768 without any problems. Any more and it would start to falter. A faster hard drive would have no doubt helped its performance.

The hard disk is a run of the mill 4200rpm 40GB hard disk which is neither fast nor large in capacity. The computer boots up to the Windows logon screen in about 50secs.

The laptop does get a bit warm during processor intensive applications, especially under the left armrest but it is not uncomfortable by any means. I can easily place it on my lap and it would stay reasonably cool. It has a vent at the back and a fan underneath that kicks in for about 15secs every few minutes during normal use. While I was playing the NFS game though, the fan was on the whole time but I noticed it as it isn’t noisy.
It more than satisfies my performance needs from a laptop.

Benchmarks:

I ran SuperPi which is a program that forces the processor to calculate the value of Pi to 2million digits accuracy. Please note that this result is obtained with a total of 768MB of RAM.  I also ran HD tune and results of both tests are below.

Notebook Time
 Compaq V2000 (1.8 GHz Sempron)  2m 12s
 Dell Inspiron 9300 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 39s
 Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 53s
 IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s
 Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 41s
 Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)  1m 48s
 Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  1m 52s
 Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  2m 10s
 HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 39s
 HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)  1m 53s
 Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s

HDTune Results

(view larger image)

Keyboard and Touchpad:

Keyboard and touchpad (view larger image)

The keyboard is well laid out and all the keys are where you would expect them to be. The keys have a good amount of travel and there is very little to no flex in the keyboard. The keyboard is a full size keyboard and I especially love the full size enter and backspace keys. Typing for hours on this keyboard would not cause any strain and is a delight. The top row of keys doubles up as media controls when used in conjunction with the function key and they are clearly labeled.

Keyboard and touchpad with DVD drive and card slot dummy sticking out (view larger image)

The touchpad has been designed in the same aspect ratio as the screen which makes sense since it’s in a widescreen format. It is very responsive and smooth and would suit anyone though at home I use a mouse. It has vertical and horizontal scroll areas that work quite well though the vertical scroll area is a bit limited in size. Also, I have found that I need to press my finger against the bottom edge to scroll horizontally, otherwise the touchpad doesn’t track my finger very well. It has a touchpad on/off switch, which is very useful and saves me from having to switch it off by disabling it. The touchpad buttons however leave something to be desired. They are a bit clunky and could have been more responsive.

(view larger image)

Input and Output Ports:

For the price, the Compaq V2000 is very well equipped and comes with the following ports and features.

  • Type I/II PC Card Slot with support for 16-bit PCMCIA and 32-bit Cardbus (left side)
  • 3 USB ports (1on the left, 2 on the right)
  • RJ-11 modem port (left side)
  • RJ-45 Ethernet port (left side)
  • Port Replicator connector (left side)
  • VGA port (left side)
  • S-video port (right side)
  • Dual Layer 8X DVD RW/ R (right side)
  • 6-in-1 Digital Media Reader slot (right side)
  • IEEE 1394 port (right side)
  • Microphone Jack (front)
  • Headphone Jack (front)
  • Power Jack (Back)
  • Wi-Fi on/off button (inside top)
  • Volume Control Buttons (inside top)

Front side view and ports (view larger image)

Left side view (view larger image)

Right side view (view larger image)

Back side view (view larger image)

Under side view of v2000 (view larger image)

Again, the ports are all well laid out and easily accessible. I was expecting a maximum of about 2 USB ports and was pleasantly surprised when I found this came with 3. I would have preferred to have at least 1 USB port at the back, away from view, but I’m not complaining.

Wireless:

I do not have a wireless network at home, but I took my laptop to a friends place and it was able to detect 3 connections within the house. It seems to have quite a good range as we were testing it outside in his garden and it worked perfectly well. Being a budget notebook, Bluetooth again was not an option. The handy wireless button at the top of the laptop turns a cool blue when activated and looks very nice in the dark.

Operating System & Software:

Included software (view larger image)

The Compaq V2000 comes with Windows XP Home and since this is a pre configured laptop, the Windows XP Pro was not an option. I must commend HP/Compaq on doing a brilliant job with the software. When you first switch on the laptop, the HP/Compaq guides you through a setup program that it very intuitive and it takes only about 10min. to setup your computer. The laptop comes with the following software:

  • Microsoft Windows Media Player
  • Microsoft Works, Microsoft Money 2005
  • Microsoft Encarta Standard
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Sonic Digital Media Plus
  • Sonic RecordNow
  • Sonic MyDVD
  • Muvee AutoProducer DVD Editon
  • InterVideo WinDVD Player
  • iTunes
  • Symantec Norton AntiVirus
  • Symantec Norton Internet Security

As was expected it shipped with some software that I consider to be junk and promptly uninstalled them. It does however come with a useful program that you can use to schedule checks on driver updates, etc. automatically from the HP website. The Compaq V2000 comes with a complete set of recovery disks and an OEM version of Windows XP Home, unlike manufacturers of some notebooks who require you to burn a copy of the recovery software on your own. I am glad Compaq have not decided to employ such cost cutting measures…yet!

Battery:

The battery life is reasonable and under normal usage I get about 2:30 hrs from a single charge. During a battery test, the screen was set at 50% brightness and music was the playing the entire time. I was also surfing the net and typing up this review during that time. I got a maximum of 2:37 hrs before the battery warning came on with 3% still to go. I consider anything above 2hrs to be reasonable battery life and am pleased with its performance.

Customer Support:

I haven’t had to use call customer support yet and am thankful for that. However, being an Indian myself, I don’t suppose I would have any problems with my call being transferred to India. There have been many complaints against the quality of customer service provided by off shore call centers in the past, but looking at the last few reviews of HP/Compaq owners, it looks like they are turning things around.

Complaints:

I wish they had spent more time on designing the DVD tray and a good latch system. Build quality is average though I was expecting this from a laptop in this category.

Praises:

The screen is vibrant and crisp and is lovely to watch movies on. It looks quite nice too and comes with a generous number of ports. 

  • Great Screen
  • Good number of ports (3 usb ports)
  • Nice responsive keyboard
  • Value for money
  • Altec Lansing Speakers

Conclusion:

So we arrive at the conclusion. Is this laptop worth the money? Would I recommend this to anyone? Yes, definitely. A budget laptop today buys you more performance and technology than ever before. You no longer have to sacrifice a great deal of performance in order to save a few bucks.

The Compaq V2000 perfectly blends price with functionality, looks and performance. Despite its obvious although not major flaws, it’s a nice laptop and anyone on the lookout for a laptop under $1000 should have this laptop on their shopping list.

Pricing and Availability: Compaq V2000

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