Normally you get what you pay for,but sometimes the task just does not require a high or even medium spec machine. Enter the sub $600 notebook. Every now and then the major retailers will have a special featuring a low priced entry level notebook. These lie somewhere between a real notebook and a netbook.
I have reason to recommend a low end notebook recently, based on the usage it will perform admirably. Also, when there is children around, its better to not spend up big as they will sure enough spill food and drink on it.
Lets look at the Compaq CQ42:
It sure is a nice looking machine. Featuring a 14″ screen the dimensions are perfect for typing a letter or watching a movie. Being a smallish frame allows it to easily be used on the lap, however its no lightweight.
The case is rigid black plastic with an inlaid textured pattern. In the hand the CQ42 feels a sturdy machine, belying its low entry price point. The screen is glossy and offers a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. I’m not a fan of glossy screens, they are terrible to work on under lights or near windows but we cant be picky here.
The processor is a Celeron T3100 1.9Ghz. Normally I advise to stay away from Celerons but the client receiving this laptop was using it mainly for web browsing and remote desktop to their 2008 Server. So effectively, most of its working life, it would be a thin client / terminal.
It comes installed with Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit. There was no noticeable issue with the baby Celeron handling Microsofts big new operating system. This is a testament to just how good Windows 7 is (when compared to the Vista launch). This laptop wont play 3D games and will not enjoy movie editing.
Overall, there is nothing standout about this laptop, either good or bad. For specific low levels of usage it offers a good entry price.
More Information: Cnet Review on the CQ 42