Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Hewlett-Packard Australia Compaq Presario V3832TU (FE061PA)
Don't judge a (note)book by its cover
- Good processing power for asking price, high quality speakers, doesn't skimp on features
- Occasional reflectivity issues, integrated graphics chip, we didn't like the design
Despite its somewhat dull appearance, the Compaq Presario V3832TU (FE061PA) is bursting with verve and functionality. With the exception of hardcore gamers, it should satisfy all types of users.
Price$ 1,599.00 (AUD)
The Compaq Presario V3832TU (FE061PA) is a solid mid-range notebook geared towards business users and multimedia fans. With its emphasis on performance and features over superficial style, it will satisfy those in need of an affordable all-purpose notebook. While hardcore gamers will be left cold by its rudimentary graphics processor, the unit has more than enough grunt to handle most other applications. For the asking price, it is an excellent performer.
Confusingly, the V382TU (FE061PA) is billed as a 'V3800' on Hewett-Packard's website and a 'V38700' on the notebook's actual body. Lord knows what it will be called in shops, though there'll probably be a 'V' and a '3' in there somewhere. In any event, picking it out from the crowd shouldn't be too difficult — just look for the notebook that's plain and ugly.
The V3832TU (FE061PA) is curiously dull for a Hewitt-Packard model, which are usually the caliphs of cool. Its drab graphite finish is unlikely to turn even the most impressionable head, with an op-art-influenced 'fingerprint' pattern that's too subtle for its own good. Likewise, the Compaq motif that dominates the front lid looks like a corporate logo from the 1970s — boring and soulless. The notebook's interior is similarly uninspired, though the keys are surprisingly large and tactile, which is a nice bonus.
HP seems to be going for functionality over style with this notebook; something that many users — especially in the business sector — are sure to welcome. If you're desperate to make a fashion statement with everything you own though, we'd advise steering well clear. (We should point out that beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. When a colleague reviewed the near-identical looking Compaq Presario A900 (A936TU), he confessed to quite liking the design. But then, he also thinks black skivvies lend him a refined and dignified look. To each his own, we guess.)
Boring aesthetics aside, the V3832TU is a pretty exciting notebook. For the asking price, it manages to cram an impressive array of components into its 33.4x23.7x2.6mm chassis. The version we tested was equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 (2.1 GHz) CPU with 2GB DDR2 of RAM. A 250GB hard drive (5400rpm) is also included, which should be enough to satisfy all but the most obsessive media enthusiast.
In our benchmark tests, the V3832TU gave a very impressive showing, particularly when it came to processing power. In WorldBench 6, it received an average of 82. This is a very solid result for a notebook in this price range (by contrast, the A936TU, which retails for $200 more, returned a score of 70). The unit is more than capable of handling most day-to-day tasks, including word processing, Internet browsing, media playback and extensive multitasking. It is equally suited to more processor-intensive work, such as photo editing and video encoding. This makes the V3832TU a good choice for users who want to balance their business and entertainment needs in one machine.
As expected, the V3832TU faired considerably less well in the graphics department. Equipped with a lowly Intel X3100 accelerator chip, the notebook is unable to handle the latest in modern gaming, even at moderate settings. This was reflected by its dismal score of 569 in 3DMark06. When we ran 3D Mark 2001, the V3832TU managed a more respectable result of 4504. Games of yesteryear should therefore run without a hitch (provided they're compatible with Vista).
Elsewise, the V3832TU is a solid machine packed with valuable features. All the usual suspects are present and accounted for, including a 5-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, MS, MSPro, xD), an inbuilt microphone, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, three USB ports, an ExpressCard/54 slot, Wireless 802.11a/b/g, eSATA and Firewire connectivity, plus a pair of deluxe Altec Lansing speakers.
The V3832TU's 14.1in WXGA widescreen display performed similarly to other HP notebooks we've looked at. While contrast and viewing angles were both generally excellent, the screen suffered from reflectivity issues under bright lighting. This can make the notebook painful to use when outside on a sunny day, for instance. Nevertheless, it remains perfectly adequate for movie playback and the like, provided you're in a moderately lit environment.
In our final test, we ran down the battery by looping a DVD to assess its staying power in taxing situations. Away from an outlet, the V3832TU lasted for 98 minutes. This is a satisfactory result for an all-purpose notebook and will see you to the end of most feature-length films.
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