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the Compaq Presario CQ50-106AU hell, my laptop purchase experience in Bengaluru

Its been a while I blogged, and the reason was that I was very occupied with my work I will write about what was so important in a separate post, but in the meelee, I would want to describe my laptop purchase experience - nothing short of hell.

Brand choices

I had been to my favourite store Staples, and to Croma Electronics Megastore in Star Bazaar - both in Koramangala for scouting around for a laptop. I had a few choices:

Acer Aspire One:

This was a cheap notebook variety newly launched in India on that day with the famed Intel Atom processor (the latest in the market for low cost laptops) and this one sported 1G RAM, with windows XP, 80GIG HDD with NO optical drive. There was inbuilt wireless though. At a price of about 23,000 this was a steal and I would have directly purchased it that day. Barring for one annoying feature - they rather puny keyboard, bigger than ASUS EEEPC but smaller than regular laptop. Me having big hands this laptop was of no use for me straightaway when I tested typing on it at the Croma Store.

Acer 4920:

Looked pretty jazzy, I love the milky white keyboard with that odd spacebar, way too many buttons, and too many certifications and technical jargon. In the end it would have some variant of Pentium Dual Core or Core 2 Duo from Intel, or an AMD Athlon or Turion 32 or 64-bit processor, with 1 or 2GB RAM, and either Linux or Windows Vista. Though it was the usual weight any laptop would be, I felt it was too bulky. My budget was limited to about 30-32,000 and nothing more than that. Since I also had an original XP license with me, all I wanted is a linux laptop or a DOS laptop but with all other features.

My search went on for other brands.

HP and Sony Vaio were out of range for me, Apple was my dream, but it could wait, and Lenovo was looking like shit especially the lower end models. They were looking like bricks compared to other laptops around. This only left me with Compaq Presario and Dell.

Dell Inspiron 1520

I loved the feature set this laptop had to offer, with 2GB RAM, 160GB HDD, Vista Home Basic, Wireless, and all other usual stuff such as optical DVD dual layer writer, etc. But for the price it was too expensive - 39,500. After a discount on VAT of 4%, it would still cost me 37,500 bucks which was steep. And Dell's low end Vostro laptops with Linux or DOS were too bulky and were bricks of the same feather like Lenovo. I had heard from everyone in Bengaluru (thanks to rumour mills) that HP had an edge over service these days compared to Dell. So I ditched the otherwise no compromise Inspiron for either a HP or a Compaq laptop.

HP/Compaq Presario

Ok, so the "Computer has become personal again", I thought. Time to go to HP for some stuff. At Staples, Koramangala, just after my Croma visit, I checked out the CQ50-106AU DOS based laptop from Compaq and the looks impressed me a lot. I am not for jazzy stuff on my laptop, but I prefer the usual features to be good for extreme use. This means I expected my mouse/keyboard to be unmistakably usable to a large extent with no jazzy quick keys here and there. Having said that this laptop caught my attention for its clean build.

The same or similar versions with Pentium Dual Core and Vista with 2GB RAM was about 35,000 and with Core 2 Duo processor was about 37,000, more or less as costly as Dell which I had seen earlier. As I said, it was in my focus that I must be able to use the existing Windows XP license that I had, along with the laptop and at the same time spend as less as possible from my pocket. The salesman told me that the AMD Athlon would be suitable for multiprocessing and would handle many open applications as gracefully as an Intel machine.

He also told me that they may not be so great for gaming. My use was limited, blogging, occasional mails/chats and browsing. Period. This compaq machine came with an NVIDIA GE Force 8200 graphics processor and a relevant chipset. So this was a bonus at that price since I could game if I needed to. What really attracted me was the price, features and the ultra clean look of the laptop full with glossy screen, widescreen and extremely neatly laid out keyboard and black contours.

So after getting necessary permissions from my home minister (wife), I blew up 32,000 on my credit card and became a (proud?) owner of a CQ50-106AU. The laptop became personal again. In fact it got so personal, that I got personal with it and felt like shooting myself for the mistakes I made while buying this laptop. Read Part II of this article to know how I managed to get this laptop to a working state and the problems I faced in between while attempting this.

(will be continued in part II - all HELLs deserve two part posts! :) )

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