Saturday, June 21, 2014

Computer review: HP Pavilion a450n desktop computer

I bought my HP Pavilion a450n desktop computer in the spring of 2004, soon after it first came out. I overpaid heavily for it, because I didn't know any better at the time, but it came well-stocked with Microsoft Office, an HP all-in-one printer, and a decent monitor. It's been a great computer, and I still use it today, over 10 years later.

The a450n might be a little slow by today's standards, but it still runs fast and handles multi-tasking easily. It came pre-installed with Windows XP, a bunch of HP monitoring and diagnostic tools, and HP's Recovery Software Suite. That recovery software (pre-loaded so you only have to hit a button on startup to run it) has saved my computer twice now from being ravaged by viruses. The software seamlessly (and quickly) restores the computer's settings to what they were at the date of setup, including drivers and installed programs. It works rather like Windows' System Restore, but more reliably. Unfortunately this means you must reinstall any third-party programs (like Microsoft Office), updated drivers, and Windows service packs, but this is a small price to pay to have your computer back.

I have had no issues with hardware since buying this computer. It features a Pentium 4 3.0 GHz CPU, 150 GB hard drive (with 5.5 GB partitioned off for the recovery software), 512 MB RAM, a CD writer/DVD writer drive as well as a CD reader drive, and a generic-looking but highly functional keyboard.

Other than the two virus infections and a problem with a McAfee security program, my a450n has had no problems at all until recently.  
It started having some hard drive issues over the past few months, which I think is understandable, considering that the hard drive is a decade old, and the two CD-ROM drives don't always work.  (They worked fine for the first seven or eight years, which is longer than most people would probably own the computer.)

Over the years, I upgraded the monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, and RAM (from the 512 MB it came with to 1 GB) but the computer itself is still chugging along robustly. I use the HP keyboard for my second computer now, and -- other than a few stains -- it looks and acts the same as it did when it was brand new.

The computer is designed in a tower layout. The rear of the computer contains more ports than I've needed so far, and the front contains additional ports which have come in handy because of their easier accessibility - multiple USB ports, three different audio jacks, an SD port, a FireWire port (which I've never used) and even a 3.5" floppy drive.

The HP Customer Care website is very user-friendly -- you can find product information, updated drivers, instructions on upgrading components, and information on ordering extra recovery CDs. HP is a highly customer-oriented company, and they even offer computer users free online classes on a variety of subjects.

HP is a well-respected name in computer technology, and with the Pavilion a450n, they proved they deserve it.

(Originally published on, July 2009)

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