- High-quality design and construction
- very fast.
- bulky and heavy
- no modular drives.
The flagship of Compaq's Presario notebook range, which is aimed at home and small office users, is the 1800T, a hefty desktop replacement system powered by Intel's fastest mobile processor. If you're buying an all-in-one system, you presumably don't mind a bit of weight and bulk -- which is certainly what you get with the 3.54kg, 26cm by 30cm by 3.25cm Presario 1800T. Overall, this is a fast, feature-rich and well-designed notebook that looks and feels classy -- and at £2,399 (ex. VAT) has a price tag to match.
Apart from the weight, the first thing you notice when you pick up and open the Presario 1800T is its massive 15in. TFT display. Controlled by ATi's Rage Mobility M128 graphics chipset supported by 16MB of video RAM, the XGA-resolution screen on our review sample delivered a high-quality picture, although it's perhaps not the brightest we've seen.
Other prominent features of the 1800T's design are the array of buttons and lights in the 'Internet Zone' between keyboard and screen, and the status LCD and CD/DVD controls to the front of the rubberised wrist-rest area. The Internet Zone comprises six programmable instant access buttons and four status LEDs, while the LCD at the front provides a range of information on system status, including the Disqplay2 feature that allows you to play audio CDs without booting up the notebook. The audio subsystem is driven by the ESS Solo-1 PCI AudioDrive, and outputs to a pair of front-mounted JBL Pro speakers that deliver better than average sound for a notebook.
Built around a 1GHz Mobile Pentium III processor supported by a 192MB of RAM (the maximum supported), the Presario 1800T provides plenty of storage space in the shape of a 20GB IBM hard disk. Just under 3GB of the hard drive is reserved for the SystemSave backup feature.
This is a fully-fledged desktop replacement system, which means that both the 1.44MB floppy and 8X Toshiba DVD-ROM drives are built-in. These are both fixed in place on the left-hand side, so you'll have to specify the optical drive you require (CD-ROM, CD-RW or DVD-ROM) at purchase time.
The right-hand side carries RJ-11 and RJ-45 ports for the internal V.90 Lucent Winmodem and Intel 10/100 Ethernet connection respectively, along with the audio ports, a pair stacked Type II PC Card slots (which accept a single Type III card), and the door to the battery compartment. The latter houses a 3,600mAh Li-ion unit that delivered a very respectable three hours 16 minutes' life with the processor running at its full 1GHz. Performance was even better, the Business Winstone 2001 score of 33 under Windows ME being the fastest we've recorded on any notebook to date. This impressive result is underpinned by the Presario 1800T's large RAM complement and excellent 2D graphics acceleration.
There's a good complement of I/O ports at the rear, including serial, parallel, VGA, PS/2, USB and TV-out (S-Video). There's also a connector for the QuikDock port replicator, but IEEE 1394 and infrared ports are noticeable by their absence. The lack of IEEE 1394 is disappointing in a consumer-orientated notebook, given the ubiquity of FireWire connectivity on digital video cameras.
As well as Windows ME, the software bundle includes Microsoft Works 2000 and Compaq DVDExpress.
Other notable points about the Presario 1800T are its high quality keyboard -- typing comfort is also aided by pop-out feet on the underside of the system unit -- and the two-button touchpad that also features a scroll button. The only gripe we had with the keyboard layout was the position of the Ins key on the bottom row next to the spacebar, where it tended to get accidentally pressed.
Overall, though, we were very impressed with the Presario 1800T. It has a high-quality look and feel, and is very fast -- as you'd expect from a system costing well over two thousand pounds.