Remember Compaq? Hewlett-Packard acquired the venerable computer company way back in 2002, but it’s kept the name alive as a secondary brand ever since, mainly relegating Compaq to overseas markets (Compaq is particularly popular in Asia) and as second-tier PCs sold on the cheap at warehouse-style stores.
But now HP is looking to breathe a little new life into the Compaq brand, positioning it not just as a label for extremely cheap computer equipment but also as one with mainstream appeal in the U.S. Today the company is announcing the rollout of a line of ultra-inexpensive PCs, both l
aptops and desktops, with extreme budgets in mind. Consider first the Compaq CQ61z (pictured), a 15.6-inch laptop with an AMD Sempron CPU, 2GB of RAM, DVD burner, 160GB hard drive, and discrete graphics. Running Windows 7 Home Premium, the machine costs a nearly unfathomable $399. T
hat price point probably sounds familiar — it’s the usual cost for your average netbook, which in comparison offers a tiny screen, minimal hard drive, and an ultra-low-power Atom CPU. With the $400 laptop’s arrival, Compaq wants potential buyers to ask: Why not jump up to a much larger and more capable system for exactly the same price? I’m having a hard time seei
ng any reason not to. Seriously, it even has a numeric keypad. Even better bargains abound for desktop shoppers. The attractive Compaq Presario 4010f has similar specs (with a 250GB hard drive) and starts at just $309 after a $100 rebate. Both systems are available on Windows 7 launch day, October 22. Compaq’s aggressively inexpensive hardware — particularly the $39
9 laptop — could have massive ramifications for the computer market. Will netbooks finally feel the pinch that they’ve been giving to standard laptops for t
ears now? And what kind of pressure will machines like this bring to bear on more expensive notebook PCs? Price war in 3… 2… 1…
Four C-notes is about the going rate for 10.1-inch netbooks with a single-core Atom N280 processor and 1GB of RAM. That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s because you’re paying a premium for portability. If you h
ave trouble wrapping your head around that, then HP’s new Compaq-branded CQ61 may be more your style.
For the same price as a high-end netbook, the Compaq CQ61 nets you a 15.6-inch dispay powered by a dual-core AMD Sempron M100 processor (2GHz, 512KB L2 cache). Other specs include 2GB or RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics, a 160GB hard drive, a DVD burner, Windows 7 Ho
me Premium, and a 6-cell battery.
HP didn’t mention what kind of battery life you can expect from the CQ61 and we’d guess it to be nothing to write home about. But still, if you’re not sold on the whole netbook thing, the CQ61 looks pretty serviceable at its price point.
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