Compaq Contura Aero 4/33C

Thirteen years before the worls saw the first Netbook, Compaq hit the market with Contura Aero, one of the earliest Subnotebook computers.

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Historic Overview

With components becoming smaller to produce, the demand for more portable devices began to rise. The early Nineties saw the arrival of many portable computers being smaller in size than the typival notebook computer of the time, one of them being the Contura Aero series.

Compaq Aero 433C

While it was set to compete with other products like the HP Omnibook, released just the year before, the Contura Aero seems to have failed to get traction, staying on the market for only about one year. One reason might be, that despite it’s tiny size and ultra-portability, it didn’t gain enough popularity due to its price.

The Aero sports a somewhat light and playful design, using slim lines and soft edges, as opposed to the typical rectangular shape of the time. A built-in trackball is located into the lower-right part of the handrest. And although they completely spared out the floppy drive, putting it into an external package, lifting up the Aero doesn’t make it feal like “air”. Yes, it’s small, it looks nice, but it’s also brutally heavy for a package of this size!

While Intels 80486SX CPU dates back to 1991, CPU, an enhanced low-power version of the 486SX, released in 1992, then updated in 1993, was built into the Aero. Although the Pentium was on the rise, and the average desktop of the time was equipped with DX2 and DX4 class CPUs, putting such a low-end CPU into the Aero was the only way to build a low-power consumption device.

The Aero came in two versions, a cheaper B/W display version with a 25 MHz CPU, and a color display version, using the 33 MHz CPU. Equipped with 4 MiB of RAM, it made a good fit for MS-DOS and Windows on the road. Although the RAM was upgradable to 20 MiB, the machine was probaly not the best fit when Windows 95 arrive the year after, propably also leading to its early demise.

Specs

The PHINTAGE Collection currently holds a Compaq Contura Aero 4/33C.

Vendor Compaq
Model Contura Aero 4/33C
Released 1994
Original Streetprice TBD
Weight 4.5 KG
Dimensions 26 cm x 19 cm x 4.3 cm
Builtin Display Yes, 7.7″ Passive Matrix Color Display
Builtin Battery Yes, 2.4 Ah
CPU Intel 80486SX-S @ 33 MHz
RAM 4 MiB
Storage
  • 240 MiB 2.5″ PATA HDD
  • 3.5″ 1.44 MiB floppy drive
Network Support optional (via PCMCIA adapter)
USB no
Video Output no
Other 1 RS232, 1 Parallel Port, 1 proprietary dock connector, built-in trackball
Operating System Compaq MS-DOS 5, Windows 3.11
Overall Condition
  • Like new, fully working
  • Battery worn down
Restoration Parts needed
  • Replacement battery

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