Though my father's company I've been able to get a hold of a very svelte, thin, lightweight Compaq Armada M300 laptop, complete with docking station that provides the optical and disk drives!

My new (at least to me!) Compaq Armada M300 subnotebook

The specifications are fairly conservative (as in old but still nice, not the icky political kind) so it won't be running Windows Vista any time soon, but for a mostly FreeBSD guy like me who's been wanting to try out his favourite OS in a mobile environment it's just what I've been looking for:

Weight and Dimensions
1.5kg, less than 2.3cm thin when closed
Mobile Pentium III 600MHz with SpeedStep (whatever that means!)
12.1″ TFT XGA display
128MiB PC133 SDRAM, upgradable to 320MiB
ES1978 Maestro 2E
Hard drive
40GB 5400RPM IDE Seagate
Belkin Wireless G PCMCIA card
Lucent LT WinModem (bummer!)
Ethernet Intel Ethernet Pro 100 (82557)

The only major downside is that the battery it came with is completely shot, it barely holds a charge. Fortunately now that I found a kickarse battery shop in Sim Lim Square, having the cells in it replaced shouldn't be too expensive. I'll probably want to get a tad more memory for it as well: a check on the current Singapore hardware pricelists shows that'll cost less than SG$40.

Compaq Armada M300 specs

With all this talk about ASUS EeePC's and MacBook Air laptops that don't have integrated optical drives and are therefore much smaller and more portable, this Armada M300 subnotebook without the docking station (and therefore without optical and disk drives) is also stunningly slim and much lighter than my MacBook Pro! Obviously it's more underpowered than the Air, but for a machine I can slip into my bag and just use in coffee shops for email, light web browsing and updating Twitter and this weblog, it looks just right.

I can see though I'll be very tempted to upgrade a lot of things with this machine, but I'll try to resist! Perhaps a brand new 7200RPM 200GB hard disk to increase performace… oh and a glossy screen protector… and a nice new Crumpler bag to put it in… and some FreeBSD stickers for the lid… and a keyboard protector… oh and a nice little black aluminium cooling pad…

And something else? In the bag it came in, there's a licenced, retail copy of Windows 2000 Professional. I know OEM versions are tied to the machine you bought it with (how do you spell corruption?) but this retail version will let me install it on another machine. With copies of 2000 harder and harder to find thesedays now that Blista and XP are out, this is reassuring, even if I don't end up using it.