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Is Walmart's $298 Compaq A Good Deal?

How much notebook can you get for $298? Starting July 26th, just in time for back to school, you can find out if you walk into Walmart or visit Walmart.com. That's the date when the retail giant will begin selling the Compaq Presario CQ60-419WM notebook, a system that's listed on HP's site as packing the following specs:

  • 2.1-GHz AMD Sempron SI-42 CPU
  • 15.6-inch/1,366 x 768-pixel display
  • Microsoft Vista Home Basic OS
  • Nvidia GeForce 8200M GPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 160 GB hard drive (5,400-rpm)
  • 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi
  • Three USB ports
  • VGA
  • Headphone and microphone
  • Modem and Ethernet
  • 6-cell battery
  • CD/DVD optical drive

Targeted at the back-to-school crowd, the portable packs what seem like very decent specs for the sub-$300 price tag; it certainly appears more robust than a netbook like the 10-inch Acer Aspire One, which retails for $50 more.  Still, we'd be shocked if the CQ60-419WM didn't come with a number of physical trade-offs such as a chintzy keyboard, touchpad, or overall build.

But our biggest question is whether or not the aged 2.1-GHz AMD Sempron SI-42 CPU can handle comtemporary computing; will having multiple applications open at the same time cause the notebook to choke, or will the 3GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce 8200M integrated graphics aid in  streaming video, keeping tabs open in a browser, and working in documents? We've reached out to AMD for word on where its CPU ranks among more modern ones.

Finally, we turn to you: Would you purchase this system for the student in your life? Would you prefer it to a netbook or a more expensive budget notebook?