Compaq Presario V4000

The Compaq Presario V4000 came out with some good features for a decent price, but there were too many flaws for it to be a top-tier computer like previous Compaq computers. The V4000 has great sound and battery life, but the lack of memory flash card slots and heavy weight cause problems.

The Compaq brand is one that I used to love and enjoy. They experimented with many different types of chips, many different types sound and video cards, and many different types of models. They had deals with many companies and were one of the few large companies venturing into the use of smaller and almost unknown manufacturers. A classic example is the low-end models that used the small specialty Cyrix chips. Compaq had a maverick feeling to it, trying to break out of the shadows of giants like Dell in its own way. They were willing to try something out of the ordinary while others stuck to the formula and for that it has always been my favorite. Yet, the good days of the PC and Internet boom are over and Compaq has come out for the worst. Since being taken over by HP they still preserve most of their pre-merger computer business. While some may say that the Compaq name has suffered only because of the end of the boom and not HP’s acquisition, I have seen some bad computers released by them since the merger and they are slowly getting worse. The V4000, however, is an improvement over some of their previous notebooks and desktops released in the past years.

The V4000 comes out with solid features and is a decent notebook for its seven hundred dollar price tag. I’m sure you can find this notebook at cheaper prices, but the ones I found at a reliable retailer sold it to me for a good seven Benjamins. It fairs rather poorly against other notebooks in its class, but is what I hope, the beginning of an upward trend for Compaq.

The battery life was one of the best features of the V4000. Easily, one of the longest lasting batteries in its class, playing two full hours of movies on just batteries and can last more when used for less draining tasks such as word processing. I was able to watch a 90 minute movie and then web surf and word process for another hour and a half before the battery drained completely. All this was done on maximum screen brightness, which brings me to a problem that faces many notebooks in this range.

Very few low range notebooks are able to flaunt a powerful, crisp, clean screen along with its low price. Toshiba Satellites are great notebooks to buy for the screen, powered by the TruBrite technology. Besides Toshiba very few can proudly talk about their screen. I have talked about this before, when manufacturers are forced to choose between different qualities and features on their notebooks. This time, Compaq just chose to ignore the significance of a good screen, which they could have improved easily. When watching movies, the screen has lack of brightness which I couldn’t adjust. It seemed dull and vapid enough for me not to enjoy the movie completely. The screen was impressive in size though measured at 15.4 in, but screens that large will simply accentuate the dullness. The big screened notebooks must be crisp and clear.

Despite the screen quality, there is nothing lacking in the sound quality. A pair of high quality JBL speakers gave a great effect when playing music. They have a nice three button external adjustment which is convenient after just trying out a notebook that had no external control. The extra problem of opening the Windows control is more annoying than people believe; especially for me as I constantly adjust volume during movies to either boost conversation volume or quite action scenes. There have been speaker problems with almost every notebook Ive reviewed and I began to believe that low price notebooks and good sound couldnt go together. Im relieved that I was wrong.

Yet, even this could not make up for the lack of flash card memory slots. The fact that there were only 2 USB ports was extremely frustrating. The third USB port is crucial to convenience and I fail to understand how most notebooks in the present day have at least three but the V4000 has only two. An average person has a mouse and printer hooked up to the notebook, no questions asked. Yet, there are many external devices that require the USB ports, such as digital mp3 players, flash drives, and digital camera cables. In order to use these, I had to unplug my mouse or my printer, in which either case there was some fumbling with wires, clumsy use of touch pads, and making sure the hardware was safely removed and installed on the computer. This hassle could have easily been avoided with one or more USB ports.

It comes in with a general average quality aura, a decent 1.5 Ghz processor that handles fairly well, a screen that could be brighter, a feature that many low-ranged notebooks have problems with. The screen was 15.4, but the widescreen caused more problems in the design than it was worth. The appeal of watching a movie on a widescreen laptop is sub-par with the screen quality and it added too much weight to the computer. Weighing in at 6.54 lb, it is one of the heavier notebooks sold in this range and creates burden of lugging it around.

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