Low-priced Armada 7300 is tough, reliable for travel

Many computer makers want to see a review in print as soon as possible. Compaq's offer
conveyed a more relaxed attitude about the Armada 7300, and with good reason.

It's not the fastest or the lightest notebook, but it strikes a good balance of power,
features and weight. For several months, I carried it on trips to Japan, Las Vegas, Texas
and home for the holidays. It never gave a single worry from accidental bumps, air
turbulence or airport security scans.

Its 166-MHz Pentium MMX processor is now a few generations behind in the processor
race. Buyers today will get 233- and 266-MHz versions of the notebook.

Compared to other 166-MHz Pentium MMX notebooks examined by the GCN Lab, the Armada
turned in slow access scores for its 2.1G hard drive. Compaq has been working to correct
the slow access, but to most users, it's not that noticeable.

Everywhere else that matters, the Armada 7350MT excelled.

The 12.1-inch, active-matrix display could have been a little sharper, but for general
business use, the 800- by 600-pixel display showed up well. The 64-bit graphics
accelerator performed better than average. An integrated 33.6-Kbps modem came in handy and
left both of the Type II PC Card slots vacant. The two stereo speakers produced a
remarkably crisp sound.

Battery life was admirable. On the road, I sometimes worked four hours. On the lab's
maximum drainage test, the 7350MT earned a two-hour rating. And at about 6 pounds, it's
lighter than most full-featured notebooks.

Its successor in the government market, the Armada 7360DMT, has a 200-MHz Pentium MMX
processor and costs $3,184 to $3,379 on government contracts. A 233-MHz Pentium MMX
version starts around $4,200; a 266-MHz 7380DMT starts at $4,500.

The low prices make the Armada 7300 family quite appealing. If you're considering the
high-end Armada 7700, take a step down. You won't lose much except 2 pounds of weight.
Your shoulder will thank you later.

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