Because of real (the number of searches on CNET) and perceived (that whoosh sound you hear is trillions of dollars leaving our economy) interest in the cheap $300 Wal-Mart laptop, I set out at the start of the week to see if I could find the Compaq CQ50-139WM. I wondered whether supplies were so limited that the laptop sold out during its one-day sale last Saturday, or how much it'd cost me if there were still units to be had this week. With some help, I found that some Wal-Mart stores had the Compaq CQ50-139WM in stock for a … Read more
Last Friday, Wal-Mart announced a selection of in-store discounts, including a 15-inch Compaq laptop for $298, that would be part of a one-day, in-store sale. That day, November 8, has come and gone, but what about the remaining supplies of the participating laptop, the Compaq CQ50-139WM?
The laptop is listed on Wal-Mart's Web site, but you can't buy it online or even find out the price, which is listed as varying by store. I used Walmart.com's store locator earlier today and plugged in more than a dozen zip codes chosen at random to find out if … Read more
With the dire news about Circuit City this week, our roundup of off-the-shelf desktops seems even more apt. We put our hands on 10 mainstream PCs earlier this month, between a few different price and product categories. All are fixed configurations, which makes buying and reviewing them easier, as accounting for various configurable options falls to the wayside. We were also happily surprised to find 64-bit Vista in all but the two lowest-end systems. (sorry Mac fans, apparently Apple doesn't know how to make "junk.") Of them all, we found four you'll want to check out first.
$400 to $500
Of the three systems in this price range, we liked Dell's $499 Inspiron 530s best. It's on the more expensive end of the scale, but it's also faster than PCs that cost $50 to $100 more. On top of its speed, we also liked its large 320GB hard drive. Unlike the eMachines and HP Compaq PCs (each $399), the Dell also includes 64-bit Vista, which, combined with its 4GB of RAM (the 32-bit PCs only have 3GB), will have a noticeable positive impact on multitasking and switching between applications. We hope to see wireless networking come to slim towers in this price range soon, but alas, this Dell does not include it.
Dell Inspiron I530S-114B… Read more
If you're buying a budget computer, it's worth your time to look into the Compaq Presario SR5610f desktop. It's not far off from a barebones machine, and you don't get a ton of extra features, but the price is so low that it's hard to complain. You get a dual-core 2.5GHz AMD processor, 3 gigs of ram, an integrated video card, and a 320GB hard drive, which should be enough power to get you through the standard applications, stuff like word processing, streaming video, mp3 playback, etc...but you definitely shouldn't expect it … Read more
If you don't have a sack full of $100 bills to spend on a desktop computer, don't worry! All is not lost; the world of budget PCs are a great option for you. Vendors are champing at the bit to release round after round of sub-$500 PCs. After all, some people just want a computer for basic applications: MP3 playback, word processing, Internet surfing, etc.
The eMachines ET1161-03 is just one system in its budget line that won't break the bank. It features a 2.3GHz AMD Athlon 64 dual-core processor, 3GB of RAM, an integrated … Read more