The Armada E500 mobile system is meant for those users who need a notebook as a basic working computer, who consider important such qualities as convenience in operation and a high performance, who want it to have a long service life and be able to change its configuration easily. The E500 notebook definitely meets these requirements.
The Compaq Armada E500 extends the line of office computers. This model is very close to the Armada M700 that we studied some time ago, but while the M700 is more mobile and light, the E500 is more functional. The model features an efficient processor, a 14.1" matrix, a 12 GBytes hard disc. The RAM is, unfortunately, only 64 MBytes, though you can extend it up to impressing 512 MBytes. The CD-Rom drive, 24x, can be installed in the DualBay and MultiBay. As a result, the Armada E500 can be equipped with 3 Li-Ion batteries, thus, allowing it to work up to 9 (!!!) hours. The model comes also with external ports and a standard interface for connection of EM docking stations which make possible an additional extension of the systems. Such docking stations suit both E500 and M700.
Apart from the notebook and a power supply unit you can find there the following accessories:
All the documentation comes in English.
As a rule, a TV cable is absent, though there is a TV-out.
Here is a set of preinstalled software:
As there are LEDs on the front panel of the display lid, you can check such parameters as power and battery status with the lid being closed.
In front you can find a volume control, a FDD and a CD-ROM drive. The keyboard is quite large: a gap between the keys is now 2 mm, and the jut is now 4mm. The upper row (F1-F12) follows the one of a usual keyboard. It is divided into groups of 4 keys. Delete, End, P.D, P.U., Home and Insert buttons are located separately. The Fn key (which helps to adjust brightness, volume etc.) is located right under the Shift. It is very pleasant that there is some unoccupied space to the left and right up from the arrows (like in the M700). The sleep on/off modes do not differ from the M700. They keys are just interchanged. When you press the blue button the notebook suspends, with the black one it turns off and when you press them simultaneously it restarts (Reset). Any of them will help you to turn on the machine. Above the keyboard there are information diodes (though I wish it were an LCD) which display the status of an HDD, FDD, Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock. On the left of the power button there are 4 programmable keys.
Initially they are designed for the Internet Explorer, a Compaq's home page (www.compaq.com), search and a post client. The pointing device is a Touch pad with 2 keys. Pages can be scrolled by pressing 2X keys and moving a cursor. There are quite a lot of settings for the pointing device, and you are only to study them and set them properly. On the Touch pad's sides you an find audio speakers. In course of operation you can face problems only with the CD-ROM and Floppy disc drives. The drives open forward, and although there is enough space between you and the notebook lid, you can break it while standing up or sitting down. The CD-ROM drive can be replaced with a DVD-ROM one, but it is unnecessary as there are no any programs on DVD discs, while films are available on CDs as well.
Network and modem connectors should be positioned differently: they are too close to each other, and it's easy to confuse one with the other. Although the Link goes up when you connect the network cable, but it is not convenient to look at it every time. Therefore, you'd better just remember that the closest connector is for a network cable. The network card is of the MiniPCI format, produced by Intel and works excellently even without preliminary adjustment. The modem is similar to that of the M700. The recovery packet for OS and basic programs is implemented flawlessly: you are to install the disc into the CD-ROM drive and load the system from it. The procedure takes about 1.5 hours. The only drawback is that additional programs recorded on this CD are meant only for this OS. When we tested the notebook it hung three times because of the fan. But I should say that the computer worked for quite a long time without the fan.
The Armada has several preinstalled programs.
All additional programs supplied with the notebook comes only in English.
The E500 can also control the battery status, like in the M700. All Compaq notebooks are services at equal warranties.
Total: 79 scores.
Why we lowered the score:
Appearance and ergonomics:
Convenience in use:
The tests were carried out according to our testing technique, the results are in the table.
*Like in the M700, the DMA mode was disabled in the original preinstalled OS, that is why the CPU utilization didn't exceed 83%, with the DMA enabled the results got much better, all HDD speed parameters increased by 47% on average.
This notebook is really worth calling universal. It is likely to be used both at home and at work as a PC substitute. The only drawback is an insufficient video card performance. I liked quite a large display which is comparable to a 15" monitor. The "frame" (a distance from the display edge to the lid's one) is so thin that your eyes are completely focused on the visual information. It is not very convenient to use scrolling, and the RAM size is rather small, but thanks to the technical support it is very easy and cheap to extend it. The operating time is 9 hours which is an absolute record, though it is heavy enough. In closing I should add that it is priced at $1970.
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