When it came time to upgrade from my old Compaq Contura notebook (which was absolutely wonderful), I decided to jump into purchasing the first Compaq that seemed to meet my requirements. Given my positive experience with the Compaq brand, I didn't bother doing any further homework. This was a huge mistake.
Recommend this product?
I chose the Presario primarily because of its low price given its features, which include a nice, bright color screen, good speakers, and a 56K modem (which was something of a big deal back then).
First, the good points. The Presario's HPA (high performance addressing) screen is a very good deal - it's the poor man's active matrix TFT. While not spectacular, it's much brighter and crisper than typical low-end screens. The sound, for a laptop, is great. And the keyboard is nice to work with.
So much for the gold stars. Now, the problems:
-It is painfully, achingly slow. On Norton benchmark tests, the Cyrix 233 processor in my machine scores lower than a P166.
-The hard drive moves like a 90 year-old librarian with a card catalogue and a quaalude addiction. Loading Windows 98 is a 6-minute long ordeal.
-The display is s-l-o-w, even when doing simple things like displaying memory-cached web pages (whether this has to do with the memory or the video processor, I'm not sure. Does it really matter?)
-The system crashes at least three times a day, and usually needs to be physically unplugged and de-batteried (!?) in order to be re-booted.
-The battery life (with the supplied NiMH battery) is negligible - about an hour. It might as well have come without a battery.
-The 'voltage converter' (the circuit board that controls battery charging) failed a few days after I bought the unit. It was replaced, and promptly failed again....once I had gone to Europe for the year to do research, where I was no longer covered by the warranty.
-The "convenient" hardware volume controls and internet button cause the system to crash perhaps 20% of the time that they are used. Using the volume control while loading RealPlayer (is this unreasonable behavior?) inevitably causes a crash. The response of the buttons is also horribly slow: it can take as long as 7 seconds between button-push and system response.
-The touch-pad behaved bizarrely (when the unit had been on for an hour, the cursor movements would begin to have nothing to do with my input) until I dug, and dug, and dug, and finally found an updated driver on the Synaptics website. Compaq's customer support proved completely unhelpful and ill-informed in this case - an absolutely wretched waste of time.
-The touch-pad buttons are not durable - mine lasted only a few months before becoming unreliable.
-Having more than two applications open at once is an invitation to disaster - the system usually crashes in this case.
-Using the CD drive to play audio CDs also results in unpredictable behavior, including crashes.
-The unit looks cheap, feels cheap, and acts cheap.
I could go on, but I think that the above should suffice to dissuade anyone from touching this machine. Having read the rest of the reviews on the 1235, I feel lucky to have gotten off so lightly. Hopefully Compaq will not fare quite so well. They should be ashamed to have sold such a piece of garbage. I will definitely never buy anything from Compaq again.
Would I buy it as a gift? Yeah. A gift for a masochist.