Compaq Presario 1235 12.1" (4 GB, AMD -K6 MMX, 266 MHz, 32 MB) Notebook - Black - 356870-003

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A bad deal at any price

Jul 18, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Display, sound

Cons:Almost everything else

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.

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.




Recommend this product? No


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