Here’s Why the Compaq Presario 1611 cost $2,800 New in 1997
Released in 1997, this laptop was a multimedia powerhouse packed full of the latest tech.
Background music by Metal Jesus Rocks and Ethan Meixsell
ENGLISH Video Transcription:
– Hey guys, Metal Jesus here. Now today we’re gonna take a look at the Compaq Presario 1611 laptop. Back in 1997, this thing would’ve set you back about $2800 or $4300 in today’s dollars. This thing was packed with features. So today we’re gonna take a look at what’s included with the laptop, some of its quirks, and we’re gonna play some games. Let’s take a look. We’re gonna start by taking a look at the outside of the laptop and some of its quirks. And right off the bat I have to say it’s actually not an ugly laptop. I mean, yes, it’s 20 years old, but it’s not obscenely large, at least in my eyes. Although the dimensions for it are 12 inches by 10 inches. Now it is thick, it is almost two inches thick. And it’s funny because we’ve come such a long way with portable devices. I mean, it’s funny because the screen is actually almost double the thickness of a modern-day iPad. Isn’t that crazy how far we’ve come? I mean, when you see the iPad next to this machine, it’s like wow, I mean, it’s pretty incredible. Looking at the top of the laptop I was immediately struck by these buttons on the spine here, these multimedia buttons with that little display. This is something that I don’t think was really common back in the day, at least I don’t remember it. And you definitely don’t see it today. At first, I didn’t quite know what this was for. And well, it turns out this is actually designed to allow you to play music without having to power on the laptop. So what you do is hit this little button here, it says DisqPlay and that provides power to the drive as well as this display here and also your speakers. And then you can pop in your favorite audio CD and you can use it as a CD player. And I have to say, I’m really impressed with the sound from this laptop. I mean, it sounds great. Another feature of this that I had completely forgotten about were these latches here on the top of the lid. These were designed to secure the screen and lid onto the laptop, which again, by today’s standards seems kind of weird. I don’t know why they needed to do this at the time, but I guess it was just designed to be more secure. Either way, it’s kind of weird because you can’t just use one hand to open the laptop, you actually have to use two of them. Not annoying but it’s a little bit of a quirk.
Now let’s move to the right side of the laptop and you see three holes right there. Again, another little quirk of this is that it really is a multimedia laptop, because you have a headphone jack, but you also have a line out, so you could actually send this to your home stereo if you wanted to or say, external speakers. And then you also have a line in, so again, you could record your voice, you could record audio. It was all built right into the side of this device. And of course, you have a proper optical drive. For this particular laptop here we have a CD drive. Now it was optional to get a DVD drive at the time, although, I suspect that that would add, probably $50 to $100 to the price, I’m guessing. To the right there is something you definitely don’t see very much anymore. But back in the day it was used quite a bit on laptops. And that is a PC card slot. So this particular laptop actually can take two of them, which is very cool. And this is where you would expand the ability of what your laptop could do. So for instance, you could get a Compaq flashcard reader or you could get a network adapter or maybe a firewire adapter. Later on you would get wifi cards. And then you would slide them in here and if you had the drivers for it, your laptop could do that. And I always thought that the way that these things work were just kind of weird, because you would assume you could just like push on it and it would spring out. But that’s not how this works. You actually have these little tabs and you have to use your fingernail and dig them out and then you can push it in and that pops the card out. It’s, I mean it’s very sturdy, but it’s also really weird.
Looking at the back of the laptop, again, I’m blown away by how many options you have back here. It’s almost like a full-blown PC. To start off with, you can plug in an external keyboard and mouse. To the right of that is the printer port. And then you have the port replicator connector. So this is where you could go to Compaq and get a docking station for this. And it was really designed for people who traveled a lot. So let’s say you’re on the road, you have your laptop and then you bring it back and you have what’s comfortable sitting on your desk. So you would have an external keyboard, mouse, maybe even speakers, definitely monitor, a printer, all that stuff, setup on this dock and you just simply slide your laptop in there and just have instant access to it. To the right of it is the fan. Then you have the serial port as well as a VGA outport, which we’re gonna take a look at in a bit. You also have a couple USB ports. There is the power and at the very end there is the security slot. Moving around to the left side you see a modem out, which is really nice. Again, this is a fully-featured laptop, so at that time, you would definitely want to be doing dial-up to say AOL or CompuServe. And then, check that out! That’s a port you don’t see very often, well, anymore. That is a 3.5 inch floppy drive. So yes, this laptop had support for both CDs and floppy drives, which was very typical of the late nineties because everything was switching over. And then to the right of that you have the battery, which is sadly, long since dead. But what’s interesting about this is that the door is actually built onto the battery. So it doesn’t actually come off. You push your fingers down and then slide the battery out and then you would pop in a new one, if you had it. And then, notice that hole there at the front, and it’s actually on both sides. Well, that is the bass port for the speaker. So unlike a lot of laptops where sound and audio quality is kind of like, something that they just don’t care about, this one, they do care about that. So that’s there to basically make the bass sound even better.
Flipping it over to its bottom, you see that it has these two little feet here, which I always thought was kind of weird, because you’re supposed to be able to flip these out and then get a little bit of height on the back of the laptop, but that never really felt ergonomic to me. And I don’t know if laptops today still have them, mine don’t. But it was definitely a thing that they did back then. And then here’s where you gain access to the RAM or memory expansion, as it’s printed there. And this particular laptop came with 32 megs of RAM, which, I think at the time, was a fairly decent amount. Although this one, as you see here, can be expanded to 96 megabytes, which is something I should probably consider if I’m gonna use this going forward. Because as you see when we get into Windows, it could probably use it. All right, enough of the outside. Let’s go ahead and fire this sucker up. And as you see here, it comes with Windows 98. The classic Windows 98. And it is hilarious how slow this thing boots up. So as you see here, I timed it with my phone and it takes a full one minute and 55 seconds from a cold boot, to get into Windows and the start menu. It is shockingly long. Now I know that two minutes may not seem like a long time to boot up, but trust me, when you’re sitting there waiting, oh man, it feels like forever.
Like I mentioned, this is a pretty decently powered laptop for the time. So here are some of its specs. Here we have a 12.1 inch display that runs at 800 by 600 resolution but it can go higher, if you attach a external VGA monitor. This has a 200 megahertz Intel Pentium Processor with MMX technology. Now MMX technology didn’t last for a long time but basically that was Intel’s multimedia extensions that they originally added to their processors. So we’re gonna test some of that with games in a bit. Now the hard drive is actually pretty beefy, at least in my opinion, for a laptop of its day. This one here has a 2.1 gigabyte hard drive in there. Although it’s pretty funny, because when I first booted it up, it had like seven megabytes free. Yeah, it was packed full so I had to delete some stuff. Now the graphics chip in here, I was not familiar with. So this thing is called the Neomagic MagicGraph 128XD. And I did a bit of research and what I could find is that it’s a 128-bit graphics chip with only two megabytes of video memory, which, you know, isn’t great by today’s standards, but it does support 2D playback and also 3D graphics, probably used in the Intel MMX technology a little bit there as well as supports full motion playback via MPEG. Let’s go ahead and run some stuff. Now, right off the bat though, this display is not great. I suspect, at the time, it was probably the best you could do, but as you can see, the ghosting on this and the refresh rate is just uh. It’s not great. I mean, you can use it, for sure, butman it’s blurry and painful to look at.
And I’m kind of curious how games are gonna look on this. So let’s go ahead and pop in Doom 2 on floppy disk, just because I can. I just thought that was so cool. So let’s go ahead and install Doom 2, we configure it. Seems like it’s detecting the sound card, but as you can see here, when we run it, oh man, it’s dark, it’s so dark, so blurry. Now I am able to mess with the contrast and the brightness to at least make this playable. But as you can see, it’s not great. The other thing I noticed immediately is that for some reason, I wasn’t getting any digital audio. So there’s no shotgun sounds for some reason. And I actually went into settings a couple times to figure out what the issue is. For those of you that are old-school gamers like me, you know that this is almost always an IRQ conflict. And I tried choosing two, five, and seven. It’s supposed to be on five, but for whatever reason it just could never work. And then I got to thinking, I’m like, oh, well, you know you forget that in Windows 95 you can actually go to DOS mode, like pure DOS mode. So that’s what I did. I exit out of Windows, went into DOS mode, and look, it works perfectly. So as far as sound card support in Windows 98, there may be a driver update that I need to get and I’ll look into that in the future. Next I want to check out a pure Windows game and see how that performs on this machine.
I happen to have a copy of Sierra’s 3D Ultra Pinball, installed that and it worked flawlessly out of the gate. Sound works, everything works fine, although, not really surprised, because again, this is not the most complicated game. And as you can see, it’s still kind of blurry, but it’s definitely playable. And then just for giggles, to test out the 3D aspect of this laptop, I thought I’d pop in the original Half-Life. This is the original version, the original release of Half-Life, no patches, no nothing. Installed it on here hoping that it would work and I was getting sound and probably, what, one frame per second. Maybe five frames per second. I even tried switching over to direct 3D and that was just worse. Again, not a total surprise for a laptop of this day, but yeah, not gonna be playing that anytime soon. Now let’s go ahead and check out some games, running with the video out.
Here is the original Quake and look at that. I’m always blown away by just how well Quake runs in software mode. It’s amazing. I mean, yes, there’s a couple little hiccups here and there, but man, I mean, this is running great. Here is the original Fallout and no surprise, it’s also running really well too. And that’s to be expected, because Fallout is not a 3D game, it only has 2D sprites and there is a little bit of screen tearing here and there but this is definitely playable. Here is Shadow Warrior. You no mess with Lo Wang. So this is using the Duke 3D engine and as you can see here, not running as good as Quake but still pretty decent. And then here’s a game called Firefight from EA. Somewhat of a hidden gem, kind of forgotten shooter game back in the day. Definitely one of my favorites. And it’s running okay on this laptop, but as you can see, it’s struggling. I think there’s a little bit too much screen tear here, but it’s still playable.
All right guys, well that’s a quick look at the Compaq Presario 1611 laptop. I wanna give a quick shout out to my buddy Drunken Master Paul, who donated this to my channel. Thank you very much man. Also too, I know that there’s not a lot of nostalgia for these type of devices, however, I do think that there is something about going back in the past and taking a look at the evolution of the PC. So much was changing so fast, especially with laptops. And so I would love to know if you guys liked this video. Please post a comment down below. Also, if there are other devices back in the past, either PC or Mac or whatever, let me know if you’d like me to cover them on my YouTube channel because I think that would be pretty cool. All right guys, thank you very much for watching, thank you for subscribing, and take care. Also at the end here, I want to do a huge shout out to fellow YouTuber Doug Demuro. He is a guy who does videos about quirks on old exotic sports cars and I’ve been a huge fan of his channel for a long time now and I thought it would be kind of fun to apply that to old PCs and computers. So if you haven’t seen his channel, definitely check it out, it’s a great, great channel. All right guys, thank you so much for watching. Have an awesome day.