HP's new Compaq Presario series

HP's Compaq Presario 8000 series received some new company earlier this year. With configurations that span the midrange and budget categories, the Compaq Presario SR1000 series is suitable for both basic home computing and general office chores. Midlevel SR1000T models start at $600 and feature Hyper-Threaded Pentium 4 CPUs, and SR1000Z models featuring Athlon XP processors go for as low as $350. Older Intel CPUs fill out the other two value lines: the sub-3GHz Pentium 4-based SR1000V series and the Celeron-based SR1010V series.

Upside: The first item to catch your eye will be the low price. You might find that adding a few peripherals, such as a monitor or speakers, and upgrading certain components will raise the price above the advertised starting point, but you can easily build a solid system for less than $1,000. We like the fact that you can choose either an AMD or Intel processor, and the option to add a handy media-card reader is a plus.

Downside: Since the SR1000 line is targeted at mainstream users, you won't see configuration options for a second hard drive or the latest-and-greatest graphics card. Also, while some of AMD's faster Athlon 64 processors have trickled down into the mainstream, HP offers only the 32-bit Athlon XP chips on SR1000Z models. Your choices for bundling a monitor are similarly limited, with neither LCDs nor CRTs available in screen sizes larger than 17 inches.

Outlook: Mainstream and budget buyers who want a system for general home or office use (or both) will find a practical mix of configuration options and aggressive prices in the Compaq Presario SR1000 series. Check back here soon for a full review.