The Presario

Laptops used to be at par with the Ducati or Ferrari — things that only a handful of individuals worldwide can actually afford to call their own. Today, however, computer manufacturing companies have seen the huge market in the middle­ or working ­class sector and have duly realigned their product line to tap into it. The result is a well ­rounded classification of various types of laptops that address the diverse needs of those that belong to this market sector. Essentially they’ve come up with designs and functions that appeal to computer gamers, the socialites (think social media like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), the part ­time and full ­time online workers, the online small ­scale business establishment, and so much more.

That being said, how would someone like me who earns his living online from the comfort of his home, choose the appropriate laptop? What is the appropriate laptop anyway? Here’s what I considered; Cost, functionality and aesthetics, in that order.

Cost – In my case, I didn’t have the cash to spare for a new laptop. As such, I had to think of it as an investment instead. How much was I willing to invest? Well, the ballpark figure for a decent, all­around type of laptop would be at the $700 to $900 range. Of course price fluctuations also depend on where it’s being bought from and other factors such as shipping costs, optional upgrades and what have you. I, on the other hand, had more basic needs.

Functionality – All I needed was a laptop that had a strong battery life suitable for word processing (the primary medium for my home­based online work), video or movie watching, and with enough processing power and RAM to run the occasional video game for the kids. It would also need to have a decent sound system, which for laptops is an almost impossible achievement. Another thing I wanted in a laptop was that it had to be compatible with the latest peripherals or add­ons. It had to have at least a couple of USB 2.0 or higher ports, DVD ROM and Writer, an HDMI port for connecting it to our television set, a card reader able to at least read a Secure Digital (SD) card that our Olympus Tough camera uses, and a built­ in camera that can capture my face clearly for video conferencing. Furthermore, it’s got to be able to handle the demands of the Microsoft Office 2010, and the latest video codec updates and upgrades.

Aesthetics – I believe that in order for one to work efficiently and enjoy working for a long time, he needs to feel comfortable with his surroundings and his tools of the trade. Here, I needed something that isn’t flashy, has a comfortable keyboard layout with clear characters showing prominently (I confess that I’m such an average Joe that I do not know how to type without looking at the keyboard), and is generally something that would leave anyone who see it guessing as to its specs. I wanted something that is deceptively simple looking yet packs a mean punch.

Now that I have what I wanted out of a laptop I began looking around both online and offline. The good thing about these kinds of products is that both online and local stores hardly differ from each other in terms of stocks. Depending on where you look, the prices don’t vary that much as well.

I started with what was cheap out there and found some unbelievably cheap ones and I knew I was nowhere near that level of desperation to go for it. I needed something a lot better and saw a few others that were impressive especially for serious gamers that place a high demand on graphics and processing speed and power. Of course I’ll only be wasting all that power with my needs (not to mention, budget) so I moved on again. I found myself dreaming about the futuristic Rolltop, which I’m sure every traveller, socialite, trend­setter, computer whiz, geek and guru would surely like to get a hold of and start imprinting their personality on it. I know it’s not for me. I also found the world’s most expensive laptop from luxury manufacturer Luvaglio London. Enough said.

Then one fine day a Persian friend of mine recently bought a Presario CQ42 by Compaq. He came over to show it to me and I spent only five minutes with it when I made a decision that this was what I wanted. It had the ports that I wanted, a bright 14” 1366×768­pixel screen, very comfy keyboard layout with keys that had just the right amount of resistance, and Altec Lansing speakers. That last feature was a definite winner. However, what really won me over was the Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) platform. Now I don’t have any real big issues against Intel, which seems to be the most popular choice worldwide but I’ve always had a soft spot for AMD. It all began when I had my first desktop PC running off an Intel processor (Pentium III). I had numerous problems with it when a friend recommended an AMD Athlon that wasn’t as popular (it just came out that year) but was actually better in performance and can handle a lot more physical abuse such as high temperatures and overclocking.

It didn’t take long for me to get my hands on the Presario CQ42 from a local computer store and I liked the way it stood out among all other displays. It had the least amount of stickers on it for one. In fact, it only had one small sticker on the right­hand side with a simple “VISION AMD” on it. Its specs surpassed my expectations with a 2.20 GHz AMD Athlontm II P340 Dual­Core Processor and 2 gigabytes of memory. Its display was powered by ATI Radeon HD 4200 Series and it also came with a DVD ROM/Writer. Network adapters consisted of Bluetooth and a Ralink RT3090 WiFi Adapter. Its Altec Lansing speakers were controlled by either AMD or Realtek, both of which are High Definition Audio Controllers. Its touch pad is seamlessly integrated with the body making it seem like it isn’t there. It also supports the multiple­touch functions such as scrolling up, down and sideways using two fingers. The same two fingers can be used to increase or decrease the size of windows. In essence, although requiring some getting used to, it provided more versatility than the ordinary optic mouse. It fully supported everything I installed in its 300 GB Hard Disk Drive (MS Office 2010, codecs, LEGO Star Wars III game, etc.). Its all­ black and patterned design would actually put off many laptop reviewers and users but for my simplistic taste, it fit perfectly.

I’ve had it for about a year already and it has never given me any problems whatsoever. I’m perfectly pleased with it and having had to pay a reasonable $809.00 only, I consider it a very good investment.

What, realistically, would you say your kind of laptop would be? Share your thoughts. Who knows, someone out there might be guided accordingly.