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InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter No. 9 -  Review of $499 Desktop Deals                                   July 15, 2003
 
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Welcome to our ninth InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter - Review of $499 Desktop Deals. In this newsletter we review the latest $499 desktop deals from Dell and HP.

What's New at InfoHQ

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Introduction

Last week, both Dell and HP began a $499 Desktop with 17 inch monitor promotion. Thinking this was to good to be true, we decided to do a head to head comparison of their systems to see if these were truly good deals, or if this was just another example of misleading promotions.

The Comparison

Dell's offering was based on a 2.2 GHz Celeron Dimension, while HP's offering was powered by a 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 processor.
We detailed the main features of both systems in the table below and we have highlighted all the differences. Features that we considered substandard are highlighted in red. Features that are different, but not necessarily substandard, are highlighted in purple.

Review of $499 Desktop System Features
Company
Dell
HP
Model
Dimension™ 2400
Compaq Presario S4000V
Processors
2.2 GHz Celeron
2.2 GHz Pentium 4
Video Chip
Intel Extreme Graphics
Unspecified Integrated
Upgradeable
Video
No
Yes, AGP Port
Monitor
17 inch CRT
17 inch CRT
Main System RAM
128MB Shared DDR SDRAM at 333MHz
128MB Shared DDR SDRAM at 333MHz
Cost to Upgrade RAM to 256 MB (InfoHQ recommended upgrade)
$60
$60
Maximum RAM
1 GB
1 GB
Hard Disk Drive
40 GB
40 GB
Floppy Drive
No
Yes
CD-ROM
Yes
Yes
Sound
Integrated Chip
Integrated Chip
Speakers
Altec Lansing® ADA215 Speakers
Platinum 2.0 Speakers
Modem
Yes
Yes
Network Interface
Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
Mouse and Keyboard
Yes
Yes
Printer
No
Yes
USB 2.0 Ports
6
2 or more
IEEE Port
No
Yes
PCI Slots
3
3
Application Software
WordPerfect® Productivity Pack
Microsoft Works
Operating Software
Windows XP Home
Windows XP Home
Warranty
1 Year Limited Warranty plus 1 Year At-Home Service
1 Year Limited Warranty
Free Shipping (Temporary Promotion)
Yes
Yes
Extras
Free CD-RW Drive (temporary promotion)
Free Headphones and Mic
Extras
6 Months of America Online Membership Included
None
Price before Taxes and Rebates
$499
$647.99
Rebates
None
$150 (8-10 weeks to process)
Manufacturer's Web Site

Reviewer's Conclusions

Dell Dimension 2400

The Dell system is a very basic entry level desktop system. It's 2.2 GHz Celeron processor has acceptable speed and the included Intel Extreme Graphics chipset is a nice addition but has slow to mediocre speed in new 3D games. The currently included CD-RW drive is nice to have and so is the free 6 months of AOL service.

However this system does have some drawbacks. I don't like: the fact that an AGP graphics card cannot be added, there is no floppy drive, 128 MB of RAM is just not enough and should be upgraded, and there is no printer included.

If you just want a very basic $499 system that can't be upgraded, and that will put you online for free, then this is the system for you.

Compaq Presario S4000V

Overall I was very surprised by the amount of features this system offers. This is the first Pentium 4 computer bundle I have seen that has sold for $499 after rebates. It's 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 processor is 25%-30% faster than a Celeron, it has a relatively slow graphics chip - but it can be upgraded with an AGP video card, and it even includes a free HP printer.

Of course HP did have to cut some corners to keep the price down. Like the Dell, you will want to immediately upgrade the 128 MB of system RAM. You also might want to immediately upgrade to a CD-RW drive for $30.
Its warranty is a carry in/ship back warranty, so if that sort of thing bugs you then you might want to buy a better warranty. Lastly, HP is playing the rebate game, and if waiting 8-10 weeks to recover your $150 bothers you then you might want to buy something else.

In conclusion, I think this is a great entry level system, especially if you are willing to spend a little more to upgrade the system memory and to add a CD-RW drive.

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