Exterior Features and Layout

This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

Compaq has been in the laptop business for a while now and there is no doubt that they know how to make an attractive looking product. The Evo series of notebooks is meant to center on the business market and the styling on the laptop is very professional looking. No iBook looking colors will be found here. When closed, the system is very smooth without any edges sticking out or appearing un-uniform. The release button for the monitor is a simple push button that is both large enough to easily hit but somehow prevents accidental openings very well.

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Opening up the hood of the notebook you see the simplicity that a professional notebook computer is supposed to have. There are a limited number of buttons and status lights to keep track of, making the Compaq laptop easy to learn and easy to use. Visible with a closed lid are two LED lights that let you know if the laptop is powered on or if the battery is charging.

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The keyboard itself is nearly full size and allows for a quick transition from using a standard desktop keyboard. As with any laptop, there is always a small learning curve with the smaller keys and slight placement adjustments made on the functional keys like Insert and Delete. Nothing stood out to me as a bad placement for a key on this notebook, and that in itself is big positive on the Evo N1015v.

The keyboard is placed very far back into the laptop design, only an inch or so from the main monitor joint. This leaves a lot of room from the bottom of the keyboard to the end of the laptop to place your hands or wrists, depending on your typing style. Many other laptops I have used are uncomfortable because they do not offer any support for the hands during typing on airplanes or other confined areas. The touch pad sits in the center of this blank area and is well placed for use with the thumbs of someone typing. The touch pad is responsive and quick (all adjustable within Windows XP, of course) and the two main buttons are easy to click and have a “clicking” sound associated with them to reinforce the action of the click. The unique oval button below the touch pad is used much like a scroll bar on a typical mouse. Pushing the arrows up, down, left or right will scroll that direction in most Windows/Microsoft software automatically and without any kinds of setup. I found this button to be very useful when used with the thumbs for navigating websites or documents without having to move your fingers away from the home keys.

The control panel that is located above the keyboard consists of seven buttons and four status lights. The lights represent the status of a power connection, number lock, caps lock and hard drive access. The only power button is the one in the center that is used for sleeping, powering off and powering on. The remaining buttons are used as shortcuts to software features like email, searching the Internet and listening to a media player. The Compaq software allows you to customize what these buttons do when pushed, so you can change them to any program you desire. The left of the control panel is a small vent for air exhaust from the very warm insides of the notebook.

The screen on the model that I am reviewing here is a 15” version that fills out the laptop very well. While bigger is almost always better when it comes to screens there are some advantages to a smaller screen that include a sharper pictures (in most cases) and a longer batter life for the system. In my usage I found that the TFT screen performed very well in both the office usage and the minimal gaming usage that it was used on. I didn’t notice any ghosting or other artifacts that would have been caused by a low quality LCD.

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The speakers built into the Evo 1015v notebook are JBL Pros that are used on many other laptops on the market. They are 16-bit with stereo sound. Let’s be honest – no one should expect great sound from a laptop computer using the internal speakers – it’s just not going to happen. While the speakers on this machine were acceptable for business use, when I was listening to music I’d much rather use the headphones jack on the back of the machine with my own high-quality set of headphones. The hardware-based volume controls on the main control panel are also a great feature for those times when you quickly need to access it (say, on a plane or in a meeting).

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On the left side of the notebook you will find the 3.5” floppy drive built into the case as well as a single PC Card port, processor cooling vent and lock down port. There is nothing very exciting to see here, except to note that the Athlon processors, even the mobile versions get VERY warm and the exhaust port can cause some discomfort after extended use if really on your lap.

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On the right side of the laptop you can access the battery and the combination optical drive. The optical drive is both a DVD-ROM drive running at 8x max speeds and is also a CD-RW drive at 24x12x18x. The combo drive is one of the really great features on this computer as it makes data transfers easy and painless and finally is helping the demise of the floppy drive along. 🙂

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On the back is where you will find the majority of the features. Starting from the left you will see both a headphones and microphone jack Like I mentioned before, in order to get a good sound quality from the Evo N1015v, your best bet is to utilize some good headphones. The power connector is next in the line.

Behind the closed panel lies two USB ports, the main exhaust fan to cool the system, and S-video output (which will work with an S-video to composite adaptor as well) to allow you to output the laptop screen to a television or older projector for presentations or large screen computing. There is a VGA output for connecting to modern projectors or to an external monitor and a PS/2 port for a keyboard or mouse if you are going to be using the machine for an extended time in one place or as you home machine as well. The parallel port is there mainly to keep the legacy printers alive for a bit longer.

Finally, on the right are the 10/100 integrated network connection and a 56K modem for connectivity just about anywhere.

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