DVD For Free: The Compaq Presario 17XL265
by Nate Heasley for Digital Living Today

Don't kid yourself. A DVD drive on your computer serves one purpose: To watch movies. Don't attempt to justify the purchase of one by claiming your latest presentations must be in DVD-RAM format. Yeah, right. Make peace with your company's purchasing department by presenting a solution: A laptop so complete with business-friendly features that the DVD is a bonus.

The Compaq Presario 17XL265 ($1999) is such a machine. Weighing in at just over five pounds, the 17XL265 is perfect for the mobile professional trying to shave off a few pounds of portage. It's pleasingly thin, about an inch thick, but it's more like a lightweight desktop replacement system because most so-called "ultralights" don't have a CD/DVD or internal floppy drive. Open it up and you'll see why the 17XL265 is the leader of the pack. The 14.1" color screen, with brilliant edge-to-edge picture, means that the display area is about the same size of a regular 15" monitor. Combined with the full-size keyboard and broad wrist-rest, you won't miss your desktop PC while you?re on the road. And with a 600MHz Pentium III processor, 64 megs of RAM and 8 megs of video RAM, you certainly won't notice a difference in performance.

A handful of other features distinguish the Presario 17XL265. An innovative touchpad with 4-way "scroll-button" combination makes for easy viewing of documents and Web cruising. Fast access buttons provide one-touch launching of the features you use most: email, Internet, and DVD/CD player volume controls. The Presario also comes with a 56K modem and optional Ethernet connection, as well as two USB ports, a printer port, an external monitor port and S-Video-out for display on a TV or video projector.

The reasonable price and low weight, however, are indicative of some drawbacks. The main trade-off is that the computer can only hold either a DVD or a floppy drive, not both. These can be hot-swapped, though, and there are other "Future Bay" options, including a CD-writer. There?s also only one Type-II PC Card slot, rather than the standard two. Curiously, there isn't an infrared port so you'll have to carry around a few extra cables for syncing with your PDA or other portable gear.

Now back to the DVD. The DVD plays videos full-screen without a glitch. The battery can handle more than two hours of work or a full-length feature film (and for a limited time, you can get an extra battery for only $1). After all, the most important feature on the Presario is the one that'll provide you with an alternative to watching Mickey Blue Eyes on your next flight. Just don't let Purchasing in on that part.

See also: