on February 17, 2002
The Hewlett-Packard Omnibook XE3 Notebook is an unexpected pleasure for me, and it came as the sweet reward of my long quest for a new computer.
I had been looking for a replacement of my now seriously outdated Dell Latitude with Windows 98 for some time.
After being inundated with sales brochures from Dell, IBM and others, I looked into different laptops and I thought that an IBM ThinkPad A series might do the job at reasonable cost.
I then encountered several problems in my dealings with IBM. First, the model I requested was not available. Then I was told that a comparable model was available, but there would be additional costs in adding the features I wanted. Weeks later, with the projected delivery day having been missed, I was told that the second model was unavailable and yet another substitution was made. Eventually, after yet another few weeks went by with no computer in sight I cancelled the order.
It dawned on me that my best mail order experiences had been with Amazon.com, and I remembered that they sold computers as well. So, I logged on and started searching for the laptop computer of my dreams. I was pleasantly surprised to find available systems with the features I wanted, and then some, at a lower price than the IBM of my dreams.
I saw the "Order By Phone And Get Expert Advice" box on the product description page and, voila, the expert spoke my language and he knew the details of my computer dreams. I was shocked when he said that that the system I wanted was ready to ship on the same day, free shipping included. I ordered it, scheduled to be shipped on the same day and to be delivered 3 days later. It arrived a day ahead of schedule!
But the pleasures of this transaction did not end with early delivery. When I opened the box in which my new HP notebook arrived I was delighted to see so little inside. Less is more, because an all-inclusive computer is better than using tangled cables to connect multiple components. And this computer has everything built into an amazingly compact package.
Plug and play at its best is when you plug and, well, just play. I plugged and I played and played and played. This laptop packs all the best buttons and LCD indicators in the right places and in the right shapes for the most intuitive interaction that I have had in my decades long computer experience. If you want to get on the Internet, just tap the "WWW" button. For e-mail, press the button with the envelope picture on it. You want a button to do something unique, just use the available programmable button. The short front façade of the laptop has buttons for multimedia, such as on/off, play/stop, pause/end, forward, rewind, volume up and volume down. This is so much easier than clicking Windows settings.
The built-in CD-ROM drive is a marvelous combination data reader, CD maker and DVD player. The included network outlet made connecting to the Internet via my DSL modem as simple as just plugging in a cable (interestingly enough my DSL connection is much faster on the HP Omnibook). The built-in diskette drive beats having to first remove a CD drive to put this in, as in my old laptop.
There are jacks for every sort of connection I can dream of. A telephone jack for the built-in dialup modem, a network jack for my DSL connection, an IBM style jack for an external mouse or keyboard, microphone jack, headphone/speaker jack, two USB ports, a parallel port where I plugged in my old laser printer, a VGA port, AC adapter, an infrared port, TV output port (wow!), a Kensington lock security connector (in case you work for the State Dept...), and PC cards for everything else. To pack all these things with the three included drives, battery, keyboard, big screen and powerful CPU together, and to present them in such a user-friendly fashion in a small, light package is HP's fantastic accomplishment, not to mention the great boost to my ego.
What a joy my new computer is. Windows XP makes things easier all around, but to me the greatest advantage is that there is no more crashing and no more despised "scandisk". This computer never needs to be turned off. It just goes to sleep when you don't use it and wakes up on command.
"Less is more" also applies to instructional material. No need for encyclopedia sized manuals here. The only book that accompanies this marvel of self-sufficiency is the small "Startup Guide". It has pictorial descriptions of the multiple buttons, jacks and bays and short sections on using, traveling, configuring and troubleshooting, none of which I have had the need to use.
I give the HP Omnibook experience top marks. I have been involved with computers for over thirty years and, finally, I am in love.
Bravo HP for living up to a long reputation for user friendliness. Bravo Amazon.com for making this transaction so pleasant and satisfying.
Pros: Top features in a small package at a low price. This computer has what you need and it also anticipates what you may need in the future.
Cons: The only "con" I can think of is that the price went down after I bought it. I guess now more people can fall in love with their own HP Omnibook.