Sunday specials: Wal-Mart, Best Buy battle over $300 laptops

Sunday specials: Wal-Mart, Best Buy battle over $300 laptops

Summary: The $298 Compaq laptop that generated so much coverage this week goes on sale at Wal-Mart today. Hopefully no one was trampled this morning, but if Best Buy's recent experience with a $300 Acer laptop is any indication, it could be tough to get your hands on this one.


The $298 Compaq laptop that generated so much coverage this week goes on sale at Wal-Mart today. Hopefully no one was trampled this morning, but if Best Buy's recent experience with a $300 Acer laptop is any indication, it could be tough to get your hands on this one.

HP is taking orders on a nearly identical model. Their configuration of the Compaq CQ60Z starts at $350 with a 15.6-inch display, 2.1GHz AMD Sempron SI-42, 2GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce 8200M graphics, 160GB hard drive and Vista Home Basic. That's not as good a deal as Wal-Mart's model, the Compaq Presario CQ60-419WM, which has 3GB of memory and costs $50 less, but it's still not bad.

Computerworld noticed one big drawback with these $300 laptops equipped with Vista Home Basic: HP is not offering free upgrades to Windows 7, which ships on October 22.

Best Buy is fighting back with a Toshiba laptop exclusive in today's circular priced at $299. The Toshiba Satellite L305-S5955 has a 15.4-inch display, 2.2GHz Intel Celeron, 2GB of memory, Intel integrated graphics, 160GB hard drive and Vista Home Basic. Best Buy also has the Compaq Presario CQ60-211DX (15.6-inch display, 2.16GHz Intel Celeron, 2GB of memory, Intel integrated graphics, 160GB hard drive and Vista Home Basic with SP1) for $330. That one is clearly a better deal than the version on HP's site, but it's a toss-up compared with Wal-Mart's.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Intel, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Windows

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  • Celeron and/or Sempron

    No thanks.

    It may be cheap and other specs look nice. But both the Celeron and the Sempron are SLOW and underperformed as hell.

    If you just want a laptop to say you have one, then this may be for you. But if you actually want a usable laptop, anything with a Celeron or a Sempron is a waste of money.
    • Celeron and/or Sempron

      That is a completely silly statement. These processors are just fine for basic computer use. If your laptop is to portably surf the internet, run MS Office, and do email then these processors will work just fine. If you're planning on gaming, doing video/image processing or other processor intensive tasks then you should look for something else.

      I have a Phenom 9750 quad-core on my desktop computer, and a 2.2 GHz Celeron on my laptop and I've never had a complaint about speed on my laptop.
    • Hogwash

      I went out and bought the Wal-Mart machine yesterday. It's fast to boot, to bring up web or documents and, now fully operational, still has 107 of 138 GB free, even with all the ash and trash HP loads on it - I'll clean that out over time.

      There was nobody in line at Wal-Mart. I went back to the home entertainment area about 15 minutes to the hour, the only customer present. When 8:00 rolled around, the clerk pulled up a laptop from under the counter and sold it to me - less than 1 minute transaction.

      My problems began when I got it home. Contrary to the quick start guide, the wifi was off by default - first time I've seen a machine with switchable capability. Most of the built-in help material is about Windows, rather than the computer, but I finally located a help that showed possible locations for the button; unfortunately, none of the illustrated suggestions seemed to work. The phone number supplied with the machine didn't connect on Sunday, and the online support suggested

      which I tried from my desktop, does not seem to lead to anyone that will chat with you. I tried looking in the BIOS, another of the suggestions, but was unsuccessful finding anything that looked like a wifi switch. Finally I tried pressing the red wifi light, and it turned out to be a button that turned the light blue and I was off and running.

      Having gotten through the hard part - HP's legendary customer service - the laptop is up and fully functional. And contrary to the pronouncements of the self-proclaimed experts that hang out on this forum, this is a VERY usable machine for standard laptop use.
      • A later observation

        That touchpad sucks - even worse than on other laptops I've used. It might have something to do with hand positioning (despite having started with teletype in 1960, I never learned touch typing). All kinds of unintended stuff like opening new tabs or reverting to previous web page. If I consciously keep the other hand far from the touchpad, the cursor stays under control.

        I notice a tiny switch above the pad that seems to disable it, but Dell and others have "conveniently" omitted the pointing stick (patent issues?). I'm not sure if HP expects you to carry a mouse and plug it in wherever you use the laptop. Anyway, it's not the ultimate in convenience.
    • Forget the price or speed: laptop?

      Are these truly what we think of a laptop, however nebulous it is, or are these netbooks?

      I'd rather have a small laptop, regardless of the screen size vs. a netbook. I've played with them and I'll live with the laptop.

      June issue of Consumer Reports:

      "How New Laptops."
      60+ computers rated, including remarkably light & cheap netbooks.

      "(This one's (see picture) just 3 1/2 pounds and $330.)"

      picture: The Asus EeePC 1000H. (I think that's the right number of zeroes. I can't find my reading glasses.)
      Mihi Nomen Est
  • RE: Sunday specials: Wal-Mart, Best Buy battle over $300 laptops

    Why does everyone on these forums never understand who are the buyers for these cheap laptops? It is not the gamers or power users, it's the in-laws, grandma and grandpa, kids, etc.
    Plenty of power for them with all these configurations selling below $300. Much better than any netbook out there, since the keyboards and the screen size are much too small, especially for older users.

    What I see is always the desire to disagree and arguee the little points. Even the reviewers get caught up on unimportant things. Just remember who is the market for these things!
  • RE: Sunday specials: Wal-Mart, Best Buy battle over $300 laptops

    I too bought one of the Wal-Mart specials, I think that for the money it is a much better buy than a netbook. I always carry a mouse with a laptop, who ever thought that you could use either point stick or the touch pad anyway? All I want it for is email and Internet when on the road.
  • The Compaqs are great little laptops...

    I own a year-old Compaq version of the above, apart from the 'mind-of-its-own' touchpad that another poster rightly criticised above, it's okay for basic usage, such as surfing the 'net late at night in your backyard or for email. I run Ubuntu 9.04 on works much better than Vista even on my quad-core new Gateway SX2000. The touchpad issue is a problem on the Compaqs no matter what OS you are using, I've found, but pressing the off-button allows me to type this comment without further problems.

    I wouldn't run Vista on a Simpron or Celery chip computer....just my humble opinion. But, XP or Linux will rock on these newer versions for most basic use. Download OpenOffice (free) and Thunderbird (free email) and you've got a complete and usable machine.
  • Recommend the Toshiba

    Have a brand new Toshiba Core 2 T6400 with Vista also...the hardware side seems better than my Compaq I spoke of earlier here...especially regarding the touch pad issues outlined here in other comments. If you're going to run Vista or 7ista, get a faster laptop...spend the extra bucks or you'll be mired in the computing equivalent of a barrel of molasses. Vista HP on my Core 2 Toshiba runs mostly okay, but I did have to reinstall after an attempt to fix an updater problem sent the system into an unbreakable reboot cycle (be careful about where you get advice from, especially when it comes to dealing with Windows Update woes!).

    (Turning the Compaq touchpad button off and then back on inside this comment caused the printing of about a hundred equal signs in this text box that I had to delete...interesting!)

    One possibility: install XP Pro on the $299 Toshiba, then make it dual-boot Ubuntu 9.04 (easy to do).
  • RE: Sunday specials: Wal-Mart, Best Buy battle over $300 laptops

    A celeron processor? Yeah OK, but for 300? Yeah not me.
  • RE: Sunday specials: Wal-Mart, Best Buy battle over $300 laptops

    Aren't there any laptops available without the "Microsoft tax?" It pisses me off that I have to buy a copy of Windows when I buy a new computer when the first thing I do when I get it home is wipe the hard drive and install linux.
  • RE: Sunday specials: Wal-Mart, Best Buy battle over $300 laptops

    Most folks that go to grab these offerings are not aware of the differences in them. Such as the walmart one had a decent video card that allows for some mid, low level gaming hulu and other video funsies that the intergrated graphics offerings do not offer.
    I would think as a email reader surfing the net very basic stuff these offerings are hitting the right target at the right price.
    Got a great laugh at a target review that someone bought a net book and got mad it could not do their daughters sim games. Like any tech item cheap or not figure it out what it is you need it to do and go from there. For the average user that does just surf or email these low end sub notebooks are just fine.....Glad to see the competition with the prices too
    Oh a bit of weirdness was at the walmart that Sunday afternoon they still had about 20 or so of the 298 left. I was real surprised at that one
    I guess it was signs of the times and economy affecting even low end offerings
  • Bought one - returned it the same day...

    My wife has been begging me for a laptop, so when I
    stumbled across the one at Wal-Mart, I just had to buy
    it - pretty great deal, considering i could pay just
    as much for a netbook, with half the RAM, hard drive,
    screen size and a slower processor. On my way home
    with my new purchase I stopped by Best Buy & yes, I
    saw the Toshiba, but what got my attention was the HP
    G60 for sale for get this, $399 - 15.6" screen, 320 GB
    Hard Drive, full size keyboard/number pad, lightscribe
    DVD, 4 GB RAM, Dual Pentium processor & Vista Home
    Media Ultimate with a free upgrade to Windows 7 - I
    couldn't pass it up & promptly returned the other
    laptop to Wal-Mart. my wife loves it & is very happy
    I didn't settle.