WHAT'S HOT: Pleasingly thin, the Armada M700 measures just 1.4 inches tall with the case closed. But the svelte case packs plenty of power: Posting a hot PC WorldBench 2000 score of 170, the Armada performed better than other PIII-1000 laptops we've tested with Windows 2000 and 128MB of RAM. It's also a long-distance runner, lasting an impressive 4.25 hours on one battery charge. A half-dozen devices can take turns residing in the M700's single modular bay: In addition to the floppy and DVD-ROM drive you get at this price, you can opt for an extra-cost second battery, a Zip 250 drive, or a second hard drive. The floppy drive also can attach externally via the included parallel port cable.
WHAT'S NOT: At $3599 the Armada is pricey, even for a notebook boasting a top-end processor, and it could accommodate a roomier keyboard on its standard-size 12.2-inch-wide case. Typists with large hands may find the tiny function keys, horizontally positioned Pg Up and Pg Dn keys, and junior-size mouse buttons tiresome to use for long periods.
The battery provides a handy LED charge indicator for checking on remaining juice. Documentation includes a thin print manual, a primer on ergonomics, and a detailed reference CD-ROM. The Armada M700 isn't the lightest notebook with a 14.1-inch screen (IBM's ThinkPad T series and Acer's 610 series of laptops, both around 5.2 pounds, earn that distinction), but it weighs a reasonable 5.9 pounds with a hollow bay bezel installed.
UPSHOT: With top speed and an impressively long battery life, the Compaq Armada M700 might be worth the investment for companies willing to pay extra for a svelte notebook. It's also a good complement to Compaq's heavier Armada E500. The two laptops can share docking stations and add-in devices such as second batteries.
Compaq Armada M700
PC WorldBench 2000 score of 170, Pentium III-1000/700 CPU, 128MB of SDRAM, 256KB L2 cache, Windows 2000, 14.1-inch active screen, ATI Rage Mobility Pro graphics chip with 8MB of SDRAM, 30GB hard drive, 4X/4X/20X CD-RW drive, V.90 modem, network adapter, eraserhead pointing device, 7.3 pounds (including external floppy drive, AC adapter, and phone cord). Three-year parts and labor warranty, free unlimited 24-hour toll-free tech support.
Street price: $3599
By Carla Thornton