Compaq Presario CQ62-210US (WQ775UAABA) PC Notebook

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Compaq Presario CQ62

Aug 14, 2010 (Updated Aug 14, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Ease of Use:
  • Quality of Tech Support:

Pros:Affordable, average battery life, good storage-capacity HD, good overall structural design. Excellent for lightweight applications.

Cons:Single-Core Intel Celeron 900 CPU at 2.20GHz; slow and weak.

The Bottom Line: A very good starter or lightweight application machine and affordable. Clearly an entry-level laptop on the budget.


I was on the market looking for a starter laptop, one that would cost no more than $400. The Compaq Presario CQ62 was put on sale at our local Staples for $350 (from its original price of $399.99). The same model online was between $399-$420. I was not looking for any heavy-duty laptop, just a simple one suitable for a student laptop with standard specs for school work. The Compaq Presario CQ62 with reasonable price and specifications both seem to fit this criterion nicely.

The retail package of Compaq Presario CQ62 includes the following items

-Presario CQ62 laptop
-Power Cord
-Battery
-Power Adapter
-Quick Startup Guide
-User Manual
-Warranty information manual 1-year Parts/Labor
-Few various fliers/info on virus software protection
-Norton Internet Security 2010 flier and software pre-installed on the laptop

The package comes without CD/DVD driver or Back-up CD of any kind. It is the first laptop I have purchased that came with just the laptop unit itself without other additional media for the unit.

Overall Design, Hardware Feature and Peripherals

The Compaq CQ62 sports a black casing with matte finish; only its hinge connecting the base unit and LED display (and C logo on its back) is silver.

Left side:
VGA, HDMI, Ethernet LAN, 2 USB2.0, Mic, Head phone jack, SD/CF slot.
Right side: 1xUSB, DVD-RW, power port
Front side: None; Rear: None

Keyboard layout: The unit sports dual function keys. One-touch keys on the left side (front row). The keyboard placement is good, once we get used to it. The keys feel very smooth with a discernible click pressure as I type; and the entire keyboard is a bit recessed to avoid keys rubbing against the LED panel when it folds back to close. However, there is no locking lever to secure the LED panel. What is nice is the unit sports an on/off switch on the control pad. While the unit is on, double tab the sensor on the upper-left corner of the pad will turn it off and again to turn it on. This is a great way to type without messing up cursor position if the palm accidentally touches the pad.  

The system comes with MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit on Intel Celeron 900 at 2.20GHz and 2GB of DDR2-800 RAM occupying the two DIMM slots. This presents a disadvantage in case you need to upgrade the memory. To do so, you would have to get rid of the current RAM and replace them with new ones, because there is no more slot left to populate. The memory is shared with the onboard graphics cards based on Intel GMA X4500MHD, designated 64MB for the video display.

For storage, the system comes with a Seagate 250GB SATA-II hard drive with 5400RPM spindle speed which is a pretty good speed and storage space, especially for a beginner laptop. For optical drive, the Presario CQ62 sports a LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-RW burner featuring dual-layer recording. For sound system, the unit comes equipped with Realtek HD Audio and Altec Lansing for speakers.

Pre-Installed Software and Performance

The unit came pre-installed with MS Windows 7 Home Premium (HP) 64-bit, at least the first stage of Windows 7 installation. When the unit was first turned on, it went through a POST installation with a series of questions, license agreement, etc., including creating user account. This user account is in fact the only account first created on Windows 7, and it is the administrator; we called it Owner with appropriate password. An additional user account (non-administrator) will be created later through the control panel for a day-to-day use.

Wireless network card (802.11b/g/n WLAN) was recognized and configured by Windows 7 and worked right away; it  detected (and picked up) all the wireless signals around our neighborhood. I configured the wireless to link to our secure wireless router with appropriate security key and password.

Windows 7 then went through yet a few other configurations for a Desktop. Afterwards, the Compaq welcome screen came up with registration procedure and offering a few more product packages including protection services from Norton Internet Security (which came with a 60-day trial), and it encouraged to sign up. I basically declined all offers at this point. This is first among numerous laptops that I setup that went through all sorts of promotional offers; and it is annoying.

Once Windows 7 started for use the first time, only three icons were on the desktop: eBay, HP Support and Play HP Game; but, HP Advisor Dock at the top features other software that included Set up PC, Discover Software (that with the system), Personalize and Manage.

The hard drive was configured into four partitions; three of them are accessible. Of course, the first (inaccessible) primary partition is the system partition used by Windows 7 for bootstrap which uses about 200MB of space. The other three accessible partitions are (C:) system partition and for general user's space, (D:) Recovery, and (E:) HP_TOOLS. The (C:) system partition came with its label as “Local Drive” but I renamed it as Win7HP64bit. This partition has the most storage space (218GB, NTFS). The Recovery partition uses 12.25GB (NTFS) and the HP_TOOLS gets 103MB (FAT32).  

For application software, the system came with CyberLink Dvd Suite that included MediaShow, PowerDVD8, Youcam, Power2Go, PowerDirector and LabelPrint. For the trial software, there were Norton Internet Security (as mentioned previously), MS Office 2010 (basic edition) with 60-day trial. The MS Office 2010 came with Word Starter 2010 and Excel Starter 2010, no PowerPoint or Outlook.

We did not intend to use Norton Internet Security software (even though it came with a 60-day trial) and it prompted again to register and buy the software, so I completely removed it from the system, and replaced it with the free Avast anti-virus program; this way, it eliminates altogether the repeated nagging pop-ups to register and buy the product.

The CyberLink Suite is pretty good, and so we decided to use them. The PowerDVD 8 is a media player; the PowerDirector is a video editor; the MediaShow and LabelPrint are the slide show and label rendering programs, respectively. All are pretty good for free bundle software that came with the laptop, though it occasionally prompts for an upgrade.

With regards to MS Office 2010, again with a 60-day trial, we do not intend to keep it, but I have explored its feature for a few days and did not find anything useful (remember this is the starter program), except an annoying reminder to buy the product. So I completely removed it and installed our MS Office 2007 copy, the full enterprise edition. I also installed NERO 8 burner suite to utilize DVD-RW burner capability.

Day-to-Day Usage and Performance

With a 15.6-inch view-able widescreen with BrightView LED display (at 1366x768 pixels) based on Intel GMA X4500MHD, display quality is impressive with great color and sharpness as well as contrast. The display fully supports Windows 7 Aero glass effects.

Launching and using application software that came with it was quite responsive, especially as an individual launch and use. The laptop became less responsive with multitasking, when dealing roughly 3-4 applications open at the same time. The Intel Celeron 900 processor could not handle the work load.

To determine the capability of the laptop, I took it for a benchmark using FutureMark 3DMark05. The following is the benchmark result:

3DMark Score: 1204 (higher is better)
CPU Score: 5739 (higher is better)

The 3DMark score of 1204 is surprisingly low and sad, quite an embarrassment.

Game Tests:
GT1/Return Proxycon: 5.79 FPS (frames per second, higher is better)
GT2/Firefly Forest: 3.35 FPS
GT3/Canyon: 5.76 FPS

These results were tested with display set at 1024x768 on the LED display.

CPU Test 1: 3.35 FPS
CPU Test 2: 4.37 FPS

Based on these test scores, the Intel Celeron 900 Single-Core (2.20GHz) is not much to rely on for heavy duty dealing with graphics rendition, sure enough not suitable for those who plan to play graphics-intense games.

I also ran SiSoft Sandra to determine the overall CPU and RAM capabilities. Here is the benchmark result:

CPU Benchmark
ALU: 11.6 GIPS (Giga Instructions Per Second; higher is better)
Whetstone iSSE3: 7.42 GLFOPS (Giga Floating Points Per Second, higher is better)

RAM Benchmark
Integer Buffered: 4.26 GB/s
Floating: 4.24 GB/s
RAM Specs: 2(x1GB) DDR2-800 PC2-6400 5-6-6-18

As a comparison, my laptop (ZT Group) with a pair of 1GB DDR2-667 PC2-5300 yielded quite a competitive memory throughput at 4.25GB/s for Integer and Floating Buffered, which implies that the Compaq Presario CQ62, while providing an acceptable memory throughout, still lacks its  potential.

Video Internal Memory Bandwidth:
7.62 GB/s
Data Transfer Bandwidth: 1.58GB/s

The overall result is not that bad. The CPU based on real-world test could handle single tasking with ease, even multitasking with a few small programs, which this laptop was designed for. Internal and external file transfer rate is pretty good. Transferring a 4.36GB mpg folder from my external hard drive through USB cable into the system took 2 minutes and 24 seconds. Transferring the same folder out of the system back into my external hard drive took 3 minutes and 58 seconds. For some reason writing is faster than reading.

Sound system is good, with good balance and distinguishable bass and treble from a pair of small Altec Lansing speakers when playing mp3 and DVD movie from DVD-RW drive. I set the volume to about 50% and sound quality is pretty good, very clear for a small pair of speakers.  With several applications open, Word 2007, Firefox with three active tabs, and PowerDVD 8 playing DVD movie, the CPU performance bar fluctuates between 30 and 69 percent, indicating that CPU is working hard to its core. The DVD-RW burner did a pretty good job at burning data as a backup onto single-layer DVD+RW discs. Its 8x burn speed is acceptable, and on average rendered good performance; nothing to complain here.    

Battery Life

The Presario CQ62 comes with a 6-cell 47 Whr (Watt-Hour) Lithium-Ion battery providing power up 3.5 hours under normal condition. To ensure the battery is fully charged I plugged the system to the AC power for several hours with the laptop turned off.  When the system was turned back on, the indicator showed the battery was full. I used the laptop to write this review as well as worked on a few other programs. I recorded the battery lasted a bit over two hours. Most of the time, the laptop sat idling as I was doing something else. Overall, this is impressive compared to my ZT Group laptop (bought back in 2007) that lasted about an hour on battery cell, though the hard drive used in this unit is a 7200RPM one compared to the 5400RPM one on the Presario CQ62. Nonetheless, the battery life did not last as indicated. A fully charge battery will allow us to watch one DVD movie off the DVD-RW drive.    

Warranty
The system came with a one-year warranty both the unit and the battery. At the time we purchased the unit, we were offered at Staples a two-year extended warranty for $99.99, but we declined. The decision was that this is such a low-end laptop that it was not worth the extra money to protect it. I believe the one-year warranty offered directly from Compaq/HP is sufficient.

However, it is strange that the system did not start the warranty at the time of purchase but at the time the system was built/prepared. Going into the BIOS shows that warranty start date was 6/25/2010, and we purchased the laptop on 7/15/2010.

Compared to Others
Since HP and Compaq are one and the same company (that is, HP owns Compaq), there is also an exact make/model by HP, which is HP CQ62, with the same specs: CPU, RAM, etc. My cousin in-law has it and it is virtually identical, save for the name and overall cosmetic design.

Hardware Support under Linux Operating System

Warning and Disclaimer:
Since Compaq Presario CQ62 came with MS Windows OS, altering the system for other operating system will automatically void all warranty. Thus, this section is only for those who want to explore the laptop's capability with other OS and don't mind running the risk of losing support and/or warranty from the manufacturer. It goes without saying that I will be not responsible for any unforeseen damages as a result of this suggestion. Although, damaging anything under Linux is oxymoron, I just want to keep a clear conscience of not being the one to blame.

 
Even though, the system came pre-installed with MS Windows 7, it is good to know that this laptop is fully compatible with Linux operating system. I tested it under Fedora 13 Linux. To do this, I took out the hard drive that originally came in the laptop, and put my spare 100GB hard drive; booted the system using its F10 option to boot from DVD-ROM to install Fedora 13.

Installation went smoothly and successfully, with software packages installed both from DVD-ROM and Internet repository (using wired connection). After about 30 minutes of installing 1620 packages, I got a fully functional Fedora 13 Linux system on this laptop. All hardware devices, except wireless,  were successfully detected and configured by Fedora 13's native drivers. I downloaded a driver from

http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Jean_Tourrilhes/Linux/Linux.Wireless.drivers.802.11ag.html

to get the wireless to work. It is worth to mention that HP officially supports Open Source Linux, and therefore, the hardware compatibility on this laptop should not come as a surprise. Thus, this laptop presents an excellent option for a Linux platform.

Conclusion

At $350 sale price ($370.98 with local tax), the Compaq Presario CQ62 is a pretty good deal for an entry-level laptop aimed at general-purpose light application. It is a laptop on the budget, yet fully equipped with HDMI for multimedia purpose, good sound system, as well as an impressive 15.6-inch BrightView LED display compared to the old LCD technology, especially for a wider view angle; I also think the LED appears more contrasty and in some way sharper than my LCD laptop (ZT Group). Its overall construction is very good which seems to hold together very well if it is handled with care. Its size and weight are also acceptable as a portable laptop. It is quiet in operation and heat is kept to a minimum, provided of course there is sufficient air circulation underneath.

The unit performed very well for general-purpose applications: Word processing, Internet, DVD and Audio playback. In my opinion, the only thing led down on this laptop is the single-core Intel Celeron processor at 2.20GHz that powers the laptop, which attributes to a lack of performance in a workhorse laptop for power users, as indicated by the benchmark scores I reported above.

It is worth to mention that this laptop is not meant for an upgrade (budget upgrade, that is), as the two RAM slots are already populated by the two 1GB RAM sticks.  To upgrade memory from the current 2GB to 4GB, say, one would have to buy 2x2GB RAM sticks to replace the 1GB pair in the unit.  In my opinion, this is not a wise choice. However, the great thing about its current memory configuration is that the system operates in dual-channel mode which provides a good memory throughput as indicated by the benchmark result above. Thus, as is, it is good to go as a buy-and-use laptop.

Price-performance wise, I think this laptop is good for the money, and it fits nicely as an entry-level laptop for general users.  I would rate it at 3.5 stars.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 370.98
Operating System: Windows
Processor speed: over 1000
Screen Size: 15 inches
RAM: More than 256
Internal Storage: DVD
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50

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