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Compaq Presario CQ61-415sa

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      23.06.2010 19:24
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      6 Comments

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      A really good laptop, which I didn't want to hand back after setting it up.

      I thought for my next review I would do something a bit different, yes it's on a product that a lot of people that have reviewed, but for me, for the first time I am actually going to aim this review at one person in particular and this person is actually the real owner of the laptop that I am reviewing. When my Nan stated that she wanted a laptop, we went into Curry's and ended up coming out with a nice little laptop that seemed to suit all of her needs.

      My Nan's knowledge of computers in general is alright, she understands more than I think a lot of people in her generation understand when it comes to the 'dreaded box' as my Great Nan calls them. When I saw however that she was struggling with some of the features on the laptop, I decided I would write a review which should help her, and hopefully help someone else in the process. The review will be aimed at my Nan, it will still include all of the important details but hopefully explained in a nice way that a general home user can use it to help them make a decision. I have used my Nan's laptop extensively over the last few weeks, so think I should be able to help.

      ===============
      The Specifications
      ===============

      - AMD Sempron M120 Processor- 2.1 GHz, 1.6 GHz HT and 512 KB L2 Cache.
      - Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium OS.
      -2GB DDR2 (RAM)
      - ATI Radeon HD4200 Graphics Card
      - 1366 x 768 pixels Screen Resolution and 15.6" Screen Size.
      - 250GB Hard Drive
      - 5-in-1 Memory Card Reader
      - 3 x USB 2.0 ports
      - 6-cell Lithium-lon battery
      - 2.68 kg Weight

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      Looks
      ============

      The one thing that always annoys me about my old laptop is it looks ancient; it has this matte gray look about it and just looks very bland and not like you would imagine a laptop to look. When it came to buying my own laptop, I choose a gorgeous shiny black laptop and when it came to helping my Nan get her laptop, the first thing she noticed was the fact that this laptop was sleek and shiny and looked the part.

      The surface has this high gloss finish, which I'm afraid like most laptop these days attracts dust, finger prints and even scratches I've noticed like moths to a flame. With this laptop, you can only get it in black, which is a shame as coloured laptops seem to be all of the range now-a-days and I think a different more unique laptop would have suited my Nan.

      With this laptop you get a Screen Size of 15.6", with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and 16:9 aspect-ratios, and for the price of this laptop this screen is fantastic, it is exactly the same resolution as my Acer Aspire, but as soon as you open the lid you will be blown away by the screen. It looks a lot larger than it actually is, and when you have beautiful wallpaper on your screen, it really does make it look a lot nicer than if I had the same on my Acer.

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      Hard Drive
      ============

      This Laptop has a 250GB hard drive, which is absolutely fantastic, my Acer laptop has a 160GB hard drive, which for me is not enough, but at the time of reviewing that Laptop I was raving about it. If you compare my Nan's laptop to mine there's almost another 100GB more, and this means a lot. Of course for my Nan, having 60GB or 250GB doesn't mean too much, but I think for anyone who wants to use it for holding music, photographs or anything else like that, then it'll be important to know that for the price you are paying you get a fantastic, large Hard Drive.

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      Battery Life
      ============

      When it was sold to us in the shop, we were told that the laptop had a brilliant 6 hours battery life, I knew right there and then that the young woman was misinformed as the laptop uses a 6 cell lithium-lon battery which I read on the internet before purchasing the laptop, only ran for about 2 hours maximum (this is what I read before, I have read otherwise on the Internet since). I asked the woman if what she was saying was true and she stated she would have to double check with a co-worker.

      I am afraid despite what some other reviews on this product seem to say the most that this laptop has run for on a single charge is 2 hours and 20 minutes, which for the general home user is a perfect amount of time, as most of the time, my Nan will have it plugged into the socket charging anyway. For me however, who uses the laptop for my film and photography work, it does become a bit of a nuisance and I would have been very disappointed if this woman had sold it to my Nan without doubling back on what she originally said about the battery life.

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      Ease of Use
      ============

      As my Nan has already found out, the laptop is relatively easy to use; I have to say I think the hardest thing she has found so far, is to get her head around going from Windows XP to Windows 7. I think I found it very easy as I have used a number of operating systems in the last 10 years, mainly when I was comparing them at college, but for someone to jump from an Operating System like Windows XP to Windows 7, without something like Vista in between it could be quite a shock. She has slowly started to get used to it, and I think the one thing I know she complains about is the toolbar on the bottom which is very different to usual, but you'd need to read a review on Windows 7 to understand that a bit more.

      I think this Laptop is really aimed at the general home user, who doesn't do much more than use the Microsoft Packages, who surfs' the internet a bit and who maybe uses msn or something along those lines. That being said, if you are on your way to Uni or are looking for a reasonably priced laptop with high specifications then this laptop will be for you, as it works at a great speed, and really feels a lot faster than any other laptop I've used before. I think of course at the moment, I can't really compare the speed to my laptop that I'm using as I have thousands of songs and videos on here, and she only has a few songs, a few pictures and a few games, however from looking at the processor speed and all of the specifications, I really do think this laptop will be able to cope a lot better with that many songs on and will be perfect for people who are just looking for a laptop to do some basic work on.

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      Price
      ============

      For the price that my Nan paid, which was around I believe £350 I think this laptop is fantastic value. You already have Microsoft's Windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed onto the laptop, which means you get to experience this new software on a very fast running PC for a very reasonable price. I think the price is fantastic, I believe my laptop which is an Acer Aspire was around this price, and mine is a lot slower and it's still running Windows Vista, so for the price that it seems to be in Curry's is fantastic.

      If you are lucky like us, you might be able to convince the salesperson to throw you in a few little perks. For just an extra £20, we managed to get a mouse as I knew my Nan wouldn't be able to cope with the touch pad on the laptop, a keyboard, and even a Laptop bag so she can protect it if she ever needs to transport it. I think for that price she really did get a bargain.

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      Durability
      ============

      As this laptop is not my own, I can't treat it in the way that I would have liked to, to have tested out the durability of the laptop. With my Acer laptop, it is fantastic, as I have dropped it too many times to count and it does end up with things dropping on it etc. I will say however, the laptop was sat on the little table that she has it on in the Living room and a friend's dog knocked over the table, sending the laptop flying. There were no problems with the Laptop at all, and it was a big knock, which shows it's quite durable, and can cope with animals, children and even, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, teenagers.

      ============
      Additions
      ============

      With this laptop you have the brilliant Windows 7 already loaded onto the system, I had not had the opportunity to use Windows 7 before and as always with new Microsoft products I wasn't sure if I should really get a laptop with a new Operating system on, as at the time of buying, there hadn't been enough time really for bugs to appear, and I didn't want to hand my Nan a laptop which could break but I decided I was being silly as it really couldn't be worse than Vista. Could it?

      Windows 7 is fantastic, and on this laptop which is so good with graphics and 'entertainment', it works perfectly. It boots up a lot quicker than my Vista laptop, even now after it's been used quite a bit for games etc. So far there doesn't seem to be any bugs and so far, I haven't had any phone calls saying 'Kirsty it's broken what do I do?'.

      As well as Windows 7, the laptop actually has a web cam built into the screen, which means you can talk to friends and family very easily if you download some software like Skype. I myself was rather jealous of this addition, as when I want to talk to friends who are at Uni, I have to use my web cam, which for the life of me, never wants to sit on the top of the laptop.

      You also get integrated Wireless LAN on the Laptop which is always a plus, especially as we have just set my Nan up onto Wireless in her new house. The only problem is that I have found is the Wireless on/off button sits in a place where it could easily be knocked in my opinion, and even me who knows exactly where it is, seems to knock it off on some occasions. The laptop also has three USB 2.0 ports, one of these which seem to be always taken up by the mouse on my Nan's laptop. You also get a 5-in-1 media card reader, which is a fantastic addition as my Nan uses EBay a lot so it makes it a lot easier and quicker to take the pictures from the camera to the laptop.

      The Speakers on the laptop are fantastic, I like to have Radio 1 on a lot if I'm out in the garden or doing something, and when I was painting my Nan's fence, we had the Laptop on the table in the dining room and found we could hear Radio 1 very clearly, and quite loudly. For what you usually expect with Laptop speakers, this laptop is absolutely fantastic and well worth the money. The keyboard as well is fantastic, like with most laptops now you get a numeric keyboard, which for me is brilliant, as this is what we are all used to with most keyboards, and I used to find it a nuisance just using a normal laptop keyboard when I was doing anything to do with numbers.

      ============
      The Bad
      ============

      I have had my Laptop about a year now, and it is a lot lighter than the Compaq, I'm sure there is more in the Compaq, but I was expecting quite a light laptop when I saw it in the shop so it would be very easy for my disabled Nan to transport it from the living room to the dining room or study. I think because of this my Nan has decided to mainly keep it in one place and has it set up like a desktop PC as it is just a little bit too heavy for her to move from one place to another, which is a shame, but it's our fault for not trying it out in the shop.

      The laptop does have a very shiny gloss finish and because of this attracts all number of finger prints and dust, yes you can use a wipe to get rid of them, but to be honest, you are really just wasting your time as you will back in a few hours need to do the same again.

      ============
      The Good
      ============

      If you buy the Laptop from Curry's, they will offer to upload all of the software if you decide to buy it for quite a hefty price; I believe it was in the range of £50. I declined, and as I had Office and Norton at home, I told them to sod off for that price and would set up the laptop myself as I had done it many times before with friends laptops. With our Advent Laptop, I found this very difficult as it didn't want to do anything we told it to do, however, with this laptop, it took a total of 15 minutes to get everything onto the Laptop and all set up and running for my Nan to use. I was very impressed and think if she had some instructions in front of her, she could have easily have installed all of the necessary software onto the laptop herself. Comparing this to some of my mates laptops which I have 'set up', this one is very simple and very quick to set up and get it running. Setting it up to the wireless was very easy as well, with no real problems with the connectivity at all.

      The Hard Drive size is fantastic, and for the money you pay you really do get a lot for your money. You get a normal amount of USB ports on the laptop, as well as a 5-in-1 memory card reader, which is fantastic and again well worth it for the price you're paying. As well as that the whole Laptop seems to run at a fantastic speed and this is down to the speed of the Processor. I haven't talked about it separately in the review, as I am positively terrible at describing why it's good, but it's very easy to say that for the price you are paying, again, that the Processor provided in the Laptop is strong and works very fast, especially good if you are going to use this laptop for work or Uni, which is good especially for the latter as you will of course have to be mixing between work and Facebook.

      ============
      Final Opinion
      ============

      All in all, for the price you are paying for this laptop, you really are getting yourself a bargain. Please try your hardest to get some deals out of the salesmen or women, as they are there available, and of course there is no harm in trying. We managed to get a laptop bag, mouse and keyboard for a fantastic price, and this was all just us attempting to be cheeky.

      I do think this laptop is fantastic for the General Home User, and for people like me, who do quite a lot of photo editing and video editing, this laptop is brilliant. At the moment I have the trial version of Adobe Photoshop CS5 on the laptop, and when I get to use the laptop, I'll do a bit of Photo editing and get some work done very quickly compared to if I did it say on my home PC. It's fantastically fast, and it works brilliantly, and I think the people that will find the best uses for the laptop, are people who will use the laptop for Uni say, as they will be able to run a lot of programmes at once without any problems and I know it's quite important to have speed when using quite a few programmes, especially when it comes to video editing or something like that.

      I think for my Nan, this laptop is a little more high tech than she really needed, as she won't use it to the best of its potential, however, I have made sure to counteract that and every time I pop over I make use of the brilliant specifications and make it work like it was made to work. I think that it's a fantastic piece of kit, it is very stylish, very easy to use and for people who like photographs and watching movies even, the big screen really shows everything off to the best of it's potential.

      A very good buy and one I think was a real bargain for what you get.

      Additional Note: I showed this review to my Nan and she was very impressed, and said she learnt a lot more about the laptop from it. I think she's biased though so please give your own opinions.

      I hope this review helps.

      (C) Kirsty 2010

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