HP Compaq M2000
At a Glance
Compaq Presario M2000 Notebook
This DVD burner-equipped Compaq Presario M2000Z is a nicely priced home laptop with a bonus: very long battery life.
The HP Compaq M2000 lacks Wi-Fi and has only a DVD-ROM optical drive, which means you can't create discs. Otherwise, there's much to like about this budget notebook besides its price ($529 after a $50 rebate). It's got great speakers, for one. Sound from the front wraparound outlets is so loud and rich I found myself double-checking the laptop's underside for a subwoofer speaker (there is none). Volume buttons at the top of the keyboard, including a mute, add a nice touch. With these audio talents and a roomy 15-inch SVGA screen, the M2000 makes a nice budget CD and DVD movie player as well as a decent productivity workhorse.
This 6.2-pound unit (7 pounds with power adapter) has a handsome black lid and grooved bottom, a comfortably slanted keyboard, and a good case design that places one of the two USB ports just around the right-front corner. A FireWire port--a bonus for this class of notebook--speeds up digital video downloading. Later on, you can upgrade the 40GB hard drive and 256MB of RAM yourself if you're inclined; the elegant captive-screw design makes removing bottom panels extra easy.
The Compaq's performance is good overall for this class of system. Though no speed demon, its pace is fine for word processing, e-mail, and light graphics work. The 1.4-GHz Celeron M 360-equipped unit earned a WorldBench 5 score of 60, about the same as a $500 competitor, the 1.3-GHz Celeron M 350-equipped Dell Inspiron 1200, which scored 57. However, the Compaq's performance didn't match that of the similarly priced AMD Sempron 3000+-equipped Acer Aspire 3003LCi, which scored 68. Battery life clocked in a bit on the short side at just about 2 hours, but some may find that adequate.
The Compaq M2000 beats expectations for a $500 notebook, with good speakers and a better design than most, but it can't burn discs.