WHAT'S HOT: The Presario 1800 caters to Web surfers and music lovers, with six programmable quick-launch buttons and a separate set of buttons for operating the laptop as a stand-alone CD player. You can even play one track or the entire CD repeatedly if you wish--an unusual extra. The easy-to-read LCD window on the front edge shows the current music track and time remaining, plus the current battery charge, even with the case closed.
Like most Presarios, the 1800 sounds good, with healthy volume and more bass than the typical notebook. The generous 3.6-hour battery life will let you work in the backyard or on the couch all afternoon. Posting a PC WorldBench 2000 score of 151, the 1800 performed slightly better than the only other Pentium III-1000 laptop we've tested with Windows Millennium Edition--the WinBook J1, which earned a score of 146.
WHAT'S NOT: The 1800's hard drive is fixed in place, eliminating the useful option of removing and locking away a drive containing valuable data. You'll also have to send the unit to Compaq for drive upgrades, although the 20GB hard drive should satisfy most users' storage appetites for some time. Lugging this notebook around makes for a good workout, since it's 8.4 pounds with the AC adapter and phone cord.
WHAT ELSE: The Presario 1800's striking looks feature a curvy black-and-silver case and sleekly dovetailed slots for the fixed floppy and DVD-ROM drives. Despite the unusually short spacebar, we liked the keyboard overall for its soft feel and big command keys. Flip-out feet let you adjust the typing angle. The Presario offers only one PC Card slot (with a finger-friendly, jellybean-shaped eject button), but both modem and network connections come built in. Compaq bundles Microsoft Works and its usual thorough documentation.
UPSHOT: Intel's top processor, a big screen, a large hard drive, and peerless audio controls make the Presario 1800 a nicely souped-up consumer laptop for music and video fans.
Compaq Presario 1800
PC WorldBench 2000 score of 151, Pentium III-1000/700 CPU, 128MB of SDRAM, 256KB L2 cache, Windows Millennium Edition, 15-inch active screen, ATI Rage Mobility 128 graphics chip with 8MB of SGRAM, 20GB hard drive, 8X DVD-ROM drive, V.90 modem, network adapter, touchpad pointing device, 8.4 pounds (including AC adapter and phone cord), Microsoft Works. One-year parts and labor warranty, free unlimited 24-hour toll-free tech support.
Street price: $2399
By Carla Thornton