There was a time when Compaq's Armada range of notebooks consisted of a bewildering array of add-on and modular components that were almost reminiscent of a Meccano set. That's no longer the case, though. This new model is more of an all-in-one machine, with an integrated floppy drive and CD-ROM drive being part of the standard bundle.
Even so, this 32Mb notebook is still a modular device, with two bays at the front that can be used to hold a variety of different modules.
In standard configuration, one holds the floppy drive while the other plays host to the Lithium Ion battery pack, but there are other options available. In all configurations, however, the CD-ROM drive and the 4Gb hard drive remain in place, making this a particularly versatile notebook PC.
Inevitably, this change in design means that the Armada 1700 is quite a large machine, in terms of physical size and weight. Those dimensions are increased by the use of a built-in mains power transformer, although this does have the beneficial effect of reducing the number of peripheral components that must be carried around with the notebook.
Following the now-standard design, the Armada 1700 has its keyboard located towards the back of the unit, with the wrist-rest area also providing a home for a glidepad mouse pointing device and two large mouse buttons.
There are two speakers also set into the wrist-rest, powered by an Ensoniq Audiodrive sound controller. The keyboard itself is quite a comfortable one with a positive key-press action. Some of the keys are not full-size, but on the plus side there are four additional user-programmable function keys above the top row on the keyboard.
This notebook's TFT LCD screen, measuring 12.1in, is quite a bright one, but its top resolution is limited to 800 x 600. In this mode, the Chips and Technologies 65555 PCI graphics controller, with its 2Mb of memory, can produce the full 16.7 million colours associated with 24-bit colour depth.
In common with most new notebooks, the Armada 1700 has two PC Card slots, along with a USB port, infra-red port and the usual VGA, serial and parallel connectors. An optional internal modem is available. Included with the notebook is a safety and comfort guide, a CD-ROM containing the pre-loaded software for a fast restore in the event of a serious hard drive crash, a keyboard reference for foreign language keyboard layouts, and the main reference guide.
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