Low cost

Nice key layout

Decent ATI graphics processor

Works pretty much "out of the box" with Ubuntu Linux (may also work with other distros too)

Respectable AMD CPU 64-bit processor

No major heat issues

Cool rugged design minimizes fingerprints

Good battery life


Mouse pad can be a bit over-sensitive

Full Review

Two weeks ago, I decided on the Compaq Presario CQ62 thinking that it would make a good compromise between affordability and power for my uses. For certain, owning a laptop was better than my noisy desktop machine, but was my investment worth it?

Upon opening the machine from its packaging, my first order of the day was to install Ubuntu Lucid Linux as I typically abhore Windows. To my delight, the machine does run out of the box but it must then updated via a wired internet connection and rebooted in order to get the necessary ATI driver and wireless connectivity working. As for activating the internal speakers, an easy fix was simply to update ALSA through "sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-alsa-lucid-generic" then rebooting; this essentially updated the sound drivers. Voila! A nearly perfectly functioning Linux machine!

(A word of caution to other Linux prospectors; the screen brightness cannot be adjusted for some reason. Seeing as apparently there are no fixes for this issue, it's best to wait for a suitable update to appear in the future. Should anyone have a solution, please share with us!)

Working with the CQ62 has been enjoyable. The keyboard has the right amount of space for my typing needs, and the layout is not crammed as it may be the case for other more compact machines. The screen is just about right for the size, and it definitely beats most standard lcd screens when it comes to contrast (although it does need to be viewed at the right angle). The mousepad, on the other hand, while unintrusive can be SUPER sensitive so beware.

As what other first-time owners may notice, the CQ62 has ridges throughout its outer and inner shell, with the exception being the inside viewing screen. This seems to reduce the buildup of smudges and prints a lot, especially considering it's a black piece of hardware. While it won't win any design awards, I kinda like the rugged look.

Performance has been comparable to my single-core AMD64 desktop behemoth, 2 gigs of RAM and all. Graphics-wise, the ATI Radeon HD 4200 card is good. It won't blow you away, but it won't disappoint you for most gaming needs. As for the onboard DVD player/writer, I was pleased that it did its job reliably well.

I can't tell you how many times laptops have failed to get this right, but when it comes to heat dispersement the Compaq CQ62 remains quite cool when used for light work and movie-playback. 3d rendering, however, will get the system a bit warm and so the fans will kick up a notch. However, the system is very silent; the internal fans give out barely a whisper of their operation.

When it comes to battery life, I'd say it's not too shabby in that department. Light loads have given me around 3 hours, whereas video-playback reduces this to around two hours, and 3d rendering to about one. Given it's supposed to be a general-purpose laptop, I found this acceptable for my needs.

In Closing

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the Compaq Presario CQ62. I got it for around $375, which is a fair price for what it does, and was well within my budget. As a replacement for my desktop computer, I haven't looked back since my purchase. More importantly, for moderate needs like mine it does the job solidly.