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Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?

by Ryan T / November 9, 2004 12:12 PM PST

Hi there, I'm in the market for a laptop in the next two months, and I'm having something of a dillema. There are too many to choose from.

Right now I'm using a Dell Inspiron 4000 P3-800. It's okay . . . but it just barely runs Visual Studio.NET 2003 and now I have 2005 so I'm ansy for a new mobile system.

I'm torn between a couple of different systems.

Dell 700m
Compaq X1000
HP ZT3000
Dell 600m

My needs:
Powerful Processor/FSB
Light Weight
Battery Life
Good Screen

My wants:
Centrino (It encompasses 3 of my 4 needs)

So, it seems that all these systems fulfill most of my needs and wants.

What I'm concerned over is, while I'm head-over-heels in love with the 700m, it's so beautiful, it has so many features, and is just darn cool, but I'm concerned about the keyboard and screen size. Am I really going to be squinting that badly at it? The screen is ~12" diagonal WXGA.

So I consider the Compaq X1000 . . . that seems like a nice notebook. I had a Compaq notebook not that long ago, and it was good, but I know nothing of real-life experiences with their new laptops. Does anyone have horror stories?

Same goes for the HP. All these computers have roughly similar pricing and specs, and all are highly rated by Cnet, but I'm looking for some more opinions.

Becuase then there's the 600m. It's the safe bet. Centrino, CDRW, Battery life, b/g wireless, but it doesn't have that sexy wide screen.

So if Dell is better and the small screen of the 700m would really kill my eyes . . . then I'll just go with the 600m . . . what do you all think?

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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by KenSanramon / November 9, 2004 3:59 PM PST

You have not read many posts on this forum or you would know that the Compaq X1000 series and the HPZT3000 series are the same notebook internally (the HP is all black inside with a silver touchpad and the Compaq is silver on the lower keyboard deck inside with a black touchpad). I have a Compaq X1360US prebuilt and I am very happy with it but I highly recommend you order at to get the customized notebook you want at the best price. See for all the information you need on specs and all the discounts available ($100 custom order rebate good through 12/1/04, 3% fatcash portal rebate, current coupon codes, 6% student APP discount, 12% qualified employer EPP discount, etc.

You should get the 5400rpm hard drive 60gb (very little cost over 4200rpm and much faster), 64mb dedicated video RAM (maximum), the Briteview XGA display 15.4", 256mb RAM 1 stick if you want to go to 768mb RAM (order 512mb PC2700 RAM yourself later for under $100 or order 512mb RAM 1 stick if you want to go to 1gb), CD-RW/DVD ROM or multiformat DVD burner options (many store prebuilt models only have DVD+ burners, etc).

The Dell 700M is pricey and unless you will be on an airplane alot the 12.1" LCD is not ideal for everyday use.

The Dell 600M has a lower Cnet rating (mid 7's) then the HPZT3000/Compaq X1000 (8.0 and 8.1) and Dell 8600 (good rating for specs but heavier, subpar keyboard and subpar case construction) as the 600M has heat issues around the left side of the touchpad as the harddrive is under there.

Order the Pentium M 725 Dothan as that is the lowest offered with the full 2mb L2 system cache.

I appreciate as it gives you posts everyday for users of the 2 notebooks as well as the business HPnx7000 model.

The HPZT3000/Compaq X1000 is 6.5 pounds and will get 3.5-4 hours of battery life with the built in wi-fi (get any 54G router and it will work great) and up to 5 hours not using wi-fi (more battery life with LCD brightness not turned down, using touchpad instead of external optical USB mouse, etc.

If you want a lighter notebook (and don't require the dedicated video RAM --make sure you don't need it -- you can't go back later) --look at the 14" widescreen HP DV1000 series (just out in September) that is 5.3 pounds and has the same Briteview XGA and Pentium M processor options but has only shared video memory. It does, however, have CD and DVD playing capability with the computer operating system off which means instant on like a consumer DVD player and you get longer battery life. It also has a remote built into the PCcard slot and 2 headphone jacks in the front.

Both of these models can be bought in the $1000 - $1500 range depending on options and whether or not you need a DVD burner over a CD-RW/DVD ROM (about $200 more) -- see

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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by Ryan T / November 10, 2004 12:26 AM PST

First off thanks for replying and tolerating my momentary lapse in board etiquette. I should have read more topics before posting.

In any event, thanks also for the detailed information. It's great to hear from an actual x1000 user.

I use the notebook in school and sometimes I have a wireless signal, sometimes I don't. So the battery life estimates really helped. I'm probably going to opt for the one with the dedicated Video Ram. I'm an MIS major and have been a computer tech for 4 years--I hate integrated video.

The dells, yes I'm seeing your point about the 700m. My big hands and sensitive eyes rule that one out. The 600m is nice but is so bland . . . and my mom has it. I hate the touchpad on that thing. And the screen could be a lot brighter. I like the idea of getting the BrightView WXGA on the Compaq . . . by the way, which display do you have? There's a regular one, an extra resolution one, an extra-bright one, or an all-out 1080i HD monitor. I'm wondering if the Extra-Bright one is worth the extra 50 bucks.

I have two clients that have HP/Compaq laptops. One has a zd7000 (beautiful but god-awful heavy), and one has a compaq R3000z, and both of them have beautiful screens. the R3000z likely has a similar 15.4 Widescreen to the X1000/zt3000s . . . .

All told, I'm going to be waiting until after Christmas to get the laptop. Prices will come down, and I'll still be on winter holiday from university so that'll be a good time to buy.
Thanks again for your help.

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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by KenSanramon / November 10, 2004 3:31 AM PST

I only wanted to point out (it is obvious to me and perhaps not others that HP and Compaq are now the same company as HP is headquarted in Silicon valley and the San Jose Shark tank was renamed from Compaq Center to HP Pavilion) that HP and Compaq are the same company and often they have a notebook version for each line at (some models have differences but mostly it is cosmetic).

When I bought my Compaq X1360US (retail version of Compaq X1000 series) it had the Pentium M 1.4 Banias (1st generation) with 1mb L2 system cache. I also have only 32mb dedicated video as it was a prebuilt. I was fortunate to get 512mb RAM 1 slot (prebuilts are often 256x2 filling both slots) so I was able to get another 512mb PC2700 RAM stick (Kingston) for 69.99 after rebate (much much less than getting more from HP/Compaq) to go to 1gb RAM.

You should order custom at hpshopping and now that I am a dedicated user I will do so next time also. You can upgrade to the 64mb dedicated video maximum (necessary for Doom 3 and other new robust games) for only $50-$75 over the 32mb. You can upgrade to the 5400rpm hard drive (much faster then 4200rpm) for very little cost custom. You can get either the Briteview XGA LCD (this was not out when I bought so I don't have Briteview but I would order it now) or non-Briteview for SXGA or UXGA resolutions (UXGA is very extreme but some people prefer the SXGA - remember a LCD has only 1 native resolution -- the higher the resolution the smaller the pixels and the more there will be on the screen (more data but smaller pixels with higher resolution).

Make sure you get the full Dothan Pentium M cpu (not a Celeron) -- with the full 2mb L2 system cache -- currently the Pentium M 725 1.6 is the lowest Dothan offered and the best value.

See for all the best specs and discounts (6% APP student discount, $100 custom order mail in rebate, etc) and you can find links to other HP dedicated forums like, and one for the new HP DV1000 (shared video but very slick 14" widescreen and instant on DVD/CD functions and remote) there.

Note that in early 2005 they will be upgrading the chipset in Centrinos and you there will be faster RAM (now at PC2700 333mhz) but the Pentium M Dothan cpu will remain the same basically.

The HPZT3000 is a bit more popular now I think with its all black interior and silver touchpad but the Compaq X1000 was out first and has half black/half silver inside with a black touchpad. The Compaq has a ridge between the scroll and the mouse area of the touchpad the HP doesn't have. Otherwise, they operate the same and share the same forum

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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by Ryan T / November 10, 2004 4:30 AM PST

Thanks for that further advice.

As I may have forgotten to mention, I'm going to be buying this on a strict budget and am going to get it off of eBay. There are some nice deals on new-in-box laptops on there, at least $4-500 below retail. I'm planning on picking up one of those, but this will give me something to look for: 2mb cache at 1.6 GHz or above. I do want the Dothan core . . . though 512 should suit me for the time being, as would the 4200 RPM hard drive. I don't plan on playing Doom3.

Remember I'm coming from something with 384 MB of PC-100 ram and a 10-Gig hard drive, whose video card is an ATI Rage 128 with a vast 8 mb of ram . . . Where's the rolleyes smiley? Wink . But still, insisting on the processor will probably be worth the extra dough.

And yes, I was fully aware (and somewhat wary) of the HP/Compaq Merger. However, I wasn't sure if I had picked the two corresponding models. Turns out I had. Happy

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Don't do it.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 10, 2004 5:43 AM PST

Such a laptop may a compromise and you'll regret this for years. I've learned this lesson both firsthand and now by watching others.


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More on budget
by Ryan T / November 10, 2004 4:33 AM PST

Also, while I'm fully aware that I *should* buy the computer from (you've mentioned it in each post, I think), I'm not going to because I've got $850 to spend, roughly.

So what I don't want is a new entry level computer. I don't want a brand new celeron, which is what I can afford from, but rather I want a higher-level computer slightly used or wholesale. I would be willing to trade off ram and hard disk choices in favor of a deal on a Dothan that I can afford.

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Re: More on budget
by KenSanramon / November 10, 2004 5:40 AM PST
In reply to: More on budget

If you go to and look in the For sale area you will see a few people lately that have listed their X1000's/ZT3000's for sale. You can see the history of many of these people on the board (you can see all their posts) -- there were two older X1000/ZT3000 notebooks that ended up selling on Ebay for either $900 or $930 -- that were posted at first.

These had the Banias Pentium M processor mine has -- it has 1mb L2 system cache instead of 2mb on the Dothan but this is still a good cpu (and not the decontented Celeron M).

Also, one of these was sold with the original 1 year warranty still not expired (original 1 year warranty at least is transferable -- not sure about extended warranties) which means if you had a problem in the short term you could get HP to repair it.

If you get a notebook from a source that did not register the warranty (or it is expired or whatever) that could be an expensive mistake if the LCD or motherboard goes.

Also, there are many people who were able to get a brand new X1000 or ZT3000 with the smallest 4200rpm hard drive, 256mb RAM, the Pentium M 1.6 Dothan cpu (lowest available), 32mb dedicated video (64mb is $50-$75 more), DVDROM/CD-RW drive for close to $1000 after discounts ($100 custom order rebate, 6% student APP rebate, 3% fatcash deferred portal rebate (via Paypal), coupon codes (10% code recently - but may not work with APP but if you are not a college student use the code), etc.

So be very careful ordering from Ebay when a new system (and by ordering custom you can get less RAM and add more later, get smaller hard drive and upgrade later ,etc) at with the full 1 year warranty is only $200 more perhaps.

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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by richfei / November 10, 2004 2:45 AM PST

Hi Ken,

I'm eligible for EPP

1) Do you know if the 10% coupon that was kicking around in October is still valid. The last I saw was a 10% coupon NB8384 but that was valid till Oct 26 ?
2) Is the 10% valid with EPP ? I think it's not and therefore the cheapest way (for me at least) is $100 custom, 3% fatcash, and look for a valid 10% coupon, since I'm not a student and can't apply for APP
3) Typically is this the best place to find out about the latest in getting good Hp deals ?


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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by KenSanramon / November 10, 2004 5:44 AM PST posts what are the best order specs and discounts so look there for sure.

It is my understanding that the Employer EPP discount is 12% off and the APP student discount is 6% off -- I have seen posts where some people were able to 'stack' a coupon code with APP or EPP while others were not able to.

But configure the system using the EPP you are elligible for as that may in fact be higher than any 10% coupon code.

My accounting firm also has EPP but I did not order my X1360US this way (as I found the forums after the fact) but I of course will use EPP next time.

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Ryan: A Suggestion For Your Consideration
by malabrm1 / November 12, 2004 7:52 PM PST

None of the above. Consider this: Spend the extra 30% or so above the options mentioned and consider an IBM.
You may find it worth its weight in gold. Unlike the others, IBM will truly and absolutely configure to your precise specs. The firm is known for its independant POV; their history preceeds them in building computers...and there is some wisdom that comes with being the longest player in the industry. They recommend no pre-configurations and leave the decisions fully up to you.

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Re: Ryan: A Suggestion For Your Consideration
by Ryan T / November 12, 2004 9:29 PM PST

Well you know, I had two Aptivas in the 1990s. And I have a GX somethingorother as my server in the house right now. It's true they have a high build quality, but there are two reasons I'm not going with them. A similarly equipped Thinkpad (sacrificing down to a 14.1" XGA) is $1600. I've looked on eBay, they don't sell for much less than that either. That is well above what I want or can spend on a Laptop.

The second reason is that they don't have WXGA's. And it's not like I'm a sucker for bright lights and shiny things, but I actually need a WXGA. I do ASP.NET and C# Winform development. I use Visual Studio .NET 2003 (actually I have 2005 if I can get a better laptop). The best layout for me for that environment is to have the solution explorer to the left and the Properties and Toolbox on the right, with my code in the middle.

Well, currently if you dock the two on a 1024x768 screen, your workspace is shot and you can't even see the end of any of your lines of code.

You can see the improvement. And while IBM's high-quality screens can do a lot more resolution, the aspect ratio is the same and that doesn't help. And the tiny text size would leave me squinting like Gilbert Godfrey. And that'll put me in a bad mood, and then I'll start TALKING like Gilbert Godfrey. And nobody wants that.

So thanks for the suggestion, but I think I'll be satisfied with an X1000/zt3000. I tried a zt3000 in Compusa yesterday, and I really liked the look and feel. It's the one for me.

But this is funny, and Ken will shout hallelujah when I say this, but they were selling a CLOSEOUT CELERON M with 256 MB of Ram, a store DEMO, for $1500!

I felt like laughing in their faces. I did help two old ladies that were looking at a stripped 2200 series for $800. ("Ladies, I saw this on for $550.")


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Re: Ryan: A Suggestion For Your Consideration
by KenSanramon / November 13, 2004 6:17 PM PST


I have a couple of comments and I hope you haven't bought yet.

#1 -- Comp USA has the worst return policies for larger electronics items in my opinion in the western area at least (in comparison to Fry's Electronics, Circuit City and Best Buy. If you do buy there make absolutely sure you are happy with the keyboard and specs and will not return it unless defective or you will regret it (Fry's Electronics has same 14 day comoputer return policy but you can return it if you don't like it without a restocking fee).

Also, ordering a Costco prebuilt (limited) or custom order (any model at hpshopping accessed through gives you a 6 month return policy for any reason (and the same HP 1 year limited warranty). If you live in CA or another state where HP has nexus there is no reason not to do this. If you can save the sales tax by ordering directly from hpshopping (and also the 3% fat cash portal discount) that is the prime advantage there.

I bought my Compaq X1360US at Circuit City and got a good price at the time for a Pentium M 1.4 with 512mb (1 stick thank god), CD-RW/DVD ROM, 32mb dedicated RAM, 60gb 4200 rpm hard drive --$1299 after rebates in late May 2004 before the Dothan cpus came out ---

but I would order custom now based on what I found out at (for HPZT3000 or Compaq X1000) -- 64mb dedicated video is only $50-$75 online custom, you can order 256 mb RAM and get 512mb PC2700 yourself for under $100 (I did this but went from 512 to 1gb and 768gb would have been enough and saved more money), you can get the 50% faster seek time 5400rpm hard drive for only $250$50 more custom, you get more discounts (and $100 custom order rebate good through 12/1/04) and you can order the XGA Briteview LCD (your prebuilt may not have this yet, you can get the multiformat DVD burner (many prebuilts in store if not the CD-RW/DVD ROM only have DVD+ burners --won't play in most consumer DVD players at all (except some Sonys) and you can can even order a higher LCD resolution (SXGA or UXGA but not briteview)if you want.

I buy items at Compusa sometimes I know I will not return and that I have researched but read their return policy very carefully before you do this (and you are better off ordering custom through Costco (6 month return policy) or direct (also free shipping, 30 day return policy pick up paid to HPshopping for any reason) and 1 year no interest financing option (hpshopping).

and please see in the pinned general section for best current order specs and discounts (some short term coupon codes and also APP student and EPP employer discounts).

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Re: Ryan: A Suggestion For Your Consideration
by Ryan T / November 13, 2004 9:50 PM PST

I think you misunderstood the thrust of my post.

COMPUSA sucks. I was pointing out how they were selling a low-end HP zt3000 Closeout for more than a new high-end one. It was ridiculous. That's what I was pointing out. I'd never buy a computer from a store. Ever. There's too much markup for one, 2, you're subject to their return, 3 it complicates the support process, and 4 I just hate hate hate compusa. They're snotty and not knowledgable, and the tech department is abominable. I have a couple clients with computers that have to be taken in there for service. So I usually just go back in the tech shop, which freaks teh peons out, and I show them the problem.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to say I was going to buy there, going to CompUSA made me appreciate hpshopping even more. Happy

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Re: Ryan: A Suggestion For Your Consideration
by KenSanramon / November 15, 2004 2:29 AM PST

I bought my Compaq X1360US from Circuit City for $1299 after rebates in late May (Pentium M 1.4 Banias, 32mb dedicated video RAM -- and If I did it now I would definitely order hpshopping custom (or through to get the 6 month return policy also) but I got a decent price and configuration.

If I ordered custom though I could have gotten 64mb dedicated video for only $50 more (necessary for some games but I don't play many yet), less RAM to save $ (fortunately I got 512mb 1 stick from Circuit City so I did upgrade to 1mb RAM but getting 256mb and going up to 768mb would have been fine for less $) and I would have gotten the faster 5400rpm hard drive option.

Also, now HP has Briteview LCD on all models (they didn't have this yet when I ordered) and now they have the multiformat DVD burner on custom order (many prebuilts still have DVD+ only but I got the CD-RW/DVD ROM anyway).

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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by JK654 / November 10, 2004 6:03 AM PST

Wait just a bit and you will see thin and light notebooks with a low power mobile Athlon 64
processor. AMD started shipping the chips for these in August, and there are already a few models available, but mostly in Europe. They should probably appear in the US in quantity before the end of the year. Don't buy a notebook with a 32 bit processor. Many who do might greatly regret in in the second half of '05 as plenty of great 64 bit software is released.

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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by Ryan T / November 10, 2004 9:27 PM PST

Do you know what manufacturers plan to use them? I know HP/Compaq has a model with the A64 but the battery consumption on all athlons I've seen is horrible . . . my friend has a new Averatec Athlon XP thin-n-light, but his battery life is 2 hours without wifi, 1.5 with.

However. A64 *is* quite nice. The aforementioned Compaq that used it was quite fast.

My concern is that they won't put it in a thin and light but will put in a giant monster like the on I used.

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About battery time.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 10, 2004 9:31 PM PST

Just noting that if you increase some machine's time to 8 hours plus, the next step in the cost reductions is to halve the battery power. You get a lower price and they sell more.

As to desktop replacement laptops, there is no desire to saddle such with the cost of a big battery.

Some don't realize there are actually a few classes of laptops. Ones that are designed for battery use and the others that are nice desktop replacements.


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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by Mtapper / November 12, 2004 11:09 PM PST

None of those. Get a Toshiba or Sony laptop. Better performance. Last long with less trouble.

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Re: Laptop Decisions -- Dell, Compaq/HP, or . . . Dell?
by KenSanramon / November 13, 2004 6:26 PM PST

Toshibas cost less than Sonys and beat them across the board for value where they have a comparable product in nearly every manufacturing category.

Also, Sonys are great if they don't break but if they do Sony has been rated dead last in large US notebook companies (Acer,Fujitsu, etc not rated) in both notebook service and desktop service.

Toshiba, HP/Compaq and Dell were nearly dead even for service and Apple was #1 (quality also) and IBM was #2 and Gateway was #3 (see Consumer Reports and PC magazine for recent surveys).

Apple is pricey but you get the best in quality and service for that premium I(if you don't need a PC).You get the flash Sony but not much else but you won't save anything on the price (and dead last in service).

25 years ago Sony had the best TV's and they still make some great higher end TV's and they have the PS2 but I have been very happy with Toshiba TV's, DVD's , etc in the middle price ranges ----I would take Toshiba over Sony if you insist on those 2 unless it is an ultralight that Sony has many exclusives in (at huge price premiums of course).

To be fair, Sony was #3 in notebook quality I think (Apple #1, Toshiba #2 or #4 -- I don't remember which but it is not significant -- but the service is the kicker.....

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small screen on 700m
by pkuyken / December 17, 2004 8:50 PM PST

I just bought a 700m. You can adjust the font on the wide screen and I find that it is easier to read because I am back to focused on lines rather than a big square, but I am a business consultant who doesn't do much but word, access, excel and powerpoint. If you do a lot of game playing and graphic type designs, then I don't know if the 700m is the "best" format for you. I haul a notebook around at least 50% of the time, and the weight and size are a major consideration for me. Also, you can always buy a big screen monitor with the money you save by buying a dell (they have a great deal(s) going on at the time of my post)

You are right, you will not go wrong. You can generally see a sony about the same size at some of the larger computer stores - I would suggest you go down and just see if you can key and adapt to the new screen format.

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Thanks for the input
by Ryan T / December 18, 2004 12:26 AM PST
In reply to: small screen on 700m

But I already decided on an 8600 from Dell. And I must say I cant imagine life without my 15.4" WXGA. Happy It's glorious really.

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