by Bill Burgess, Tennessee USA
The HP zv6000 is at the lower end of the price range for HP notebooks, but I feel it is an excellent value for all that is included. It is primarily intended to be a desktop replacement style notebook, but with 3-4 hours of battery life, it will definitely do the job of a portable computer. The processor is an AMD desktop variant, and if you upgrade to the 64-bit AMD Athlon you will get the 939-pin chip! It is built on the 0.13 micron Newcastle core with 512kb of L2 cache which will provide excellent performance.
HP ZV6000 (view larger image)
HP Pavilion zv6000 Configuration
Reasons for Buying
My original reason for wanting to buy the zv6000 was that I saw an offer in an Office Depot store weekly circular that advertised this notebook with an AMD Sempron 3000+ processor for only $500. That certainly piqued my interest. I have been a fan of AMD processors since my first machine with an AMD K6 300 processor. I went to the local Office Depot retail store and talked with a salesperson, and the first thing I noticed was that they went to their TechDepot.com website to order it. This offer was only for "in-store website orders." This was kind of weird I thought, but they have their reasons I'm sure. After the salesperson started configuring the notebook with all the options I wanted I saw that this notebok was going to get over the thousand-dollar mark quickly. I left thinking that the offer on the zv6000 was just another marketing ploy to get you in the door and stack up the price before you knew what hit you.
However, I started thinking about the two hundred dollars in rebates that they were offering and the fact the AMD 64-bit 3200+ processor is better than my desktop system. And so after a few days of looking for reviews and configuring the "perfect system" (for me, of course) about fifty times on Office Depot's website, I found the Notebookreview.com forums with people discussing the yet to be owned zv6000 machines. This site even had detailed pictures of the zv6000 up before HP's website. I wanted to see even more pictures, so I called HP to see if I could get more pictures and the tech support guy said they just didn't have any available. This was before the 3-D multi-angle view had been put on the HP site.
So after thinking about things I decided to buy, and I ordered at the local Office Depot on April 14, 2005. Part of the reason the notebook was a bargain was because it had to be assembled in China and shipped here. This process took nine business days (arrived on 4/27/2005). I'm used to online orders, so this wasn't a huge issue. I had it shipped to my parents' house, and I had planned to wait until I got off work to go pick it up. This was before I started reading people on the forum post about dead pixels. Well, I couldn't just sit at work and wonder. So I rushed home during lunch and found the screen in perfect condition. Hoorah!
Form & Design
I have never been a fan of manufactured computers. Since learning how to build desktop computers, I haven't encouraged anyone to buy a factory-built PC due to corporate markup and the fact that the selected and combined parts make the PC, not the name. This notebook was the first change for me in not attempting to build my own machine. The zv6000 as I configured it had everything I wanted in a desktop: Athlon processor, DVD burner, and a nice LCD screen. When I received my zv6000, I believed that a well-made desktop replacement computer could be manufactured by one of the "big companies." The design is very modern with the same lines as its predecessor, the zv5000. One downside that is to be expected of a desktop replacement is the weight. At a little over eight pounds with the battery installed, it is not fun to carry everywhere you go. However, it is what it is... a desktop replacement. That's exactly how I intend to use it, and one bonus is that it is portable in regards to battery power.
HP ZV6000 right-side (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 left-side (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 back-side (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 left-side open (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 right-side open (view larger image)
Another bonus is the screen. Though I kick myself now for not getting the BrightView option (it saved money not to), the 15.4" wide screen is a pleasure. Lines are crisp and the contrast is good. I had to adjust it a bit in the Windows Display Properties "Advanced Settings," but after I got the contrast set up just right, the Fn key on the keyboard has two buttons (F7 & F8) for adjusting brightness on the fly. I was a little surprised by the resolutions given by the preinstalled driver. 1280 x 800 is the native resolution so I figured that it would have other widescreen adapted resolutions. Nope. Standard 800 x 600 and on up are the only other options. After installing the latest Catalyst drivers I got some higher resolutions, but nothing above 1280 x 800 is really useful because it doesn't scale to fit the screen.
The speakers are nothing special. I think they replaced the Harmon-Kardons that are typical with HPs with some generic, low-cost 2" x 1" speakers. They don't necessarily sound bad, but I have to put the Master and Wave levels close to max to get volume where it needs to be. I recommend an external set of speakers, though, if you're going to keep it at a desk. The headphone and mic jacks work fine.
Processor and Performance:
The Athlon 64 3200+ is an amazing processor. I have edited video, recorded professional quality audio, and just surfed the Internet and it does it all without missing a beat. Boot time is about 90 seconds or more with all of the included software, but I have reduced this to about 30 after a fresh reinstall of the operating system. This is with a 4,200 RPM hard drive. A faster drive with a bigger cache and more RAM especially would certainly produce better results. I am not a gamer, so I cannot tell you how well it plays the newest games.
We use Super Pi to get a benchmark of processor speed. The Super Pi program simply forces the processor to calculate Pi to a selected number of digits of accuracy. Calculating to 2 million digits is our benchmark:
Comparison of notebooks using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|HP Pavilion ZV6000 (AMD Athlon 3200+)||1m 51s|
|Gateway 7426GX (AMD Athlon 3700+)||1m 39s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|IBM ThinkPad T41 (1.6GHz Banias Pentium M)||2m 23s|
|Compaq R3000T (Celeron 2.8GHz)||3m 3s|
|Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Banias Pentium M)||2m 28s|
Keyboard and Touchpad:
The keyboard is nice enough. I haven't used that many laptop keyboards, but all the keys are easily reachable on this one and not too bunched together. The only complaint I have is that the mouse scroll bar is directly under my right hand. This causes the page I'm typing on to move around intermittently. But! The folks at HP created a magic little button that turns off the touchpad, for this exact reason I assume. The virtual scroll zones are nice for vertical and horizontal scrolling.
ZV6000 TouchPad and Keyboard area (view larger image)
Input and Output Ports:
Adding the 128MB 200m ATI card is one of the best options on this computer because it means an automatic upgrade to a 6-in-1 memory card reader and an IEEE 1394 port. There are also four USB 2.0 ports, 1 x PCMCIA, 1x Express 54 slot (w/ 128mb video card upgrade), 10/100 LAN, 56k modem, 7pin S-video, 15-pin analog video out, and headphone/microphone jacks. There is no parallel port, which is almost useless these days, anyway. One thing I wish it had is VIVO. I would like to be able to capture video without the use of an external device, but it can't have everything for the price it is I guess.
Built-in Wireless G with 108 MB/s access is an additional option that I did not include. Bluetooth comes with this package. I just didn't feel I would have enough of a use for this because I don't have any Bluetooth devices, and I already have a USB based Wireless antenna card.
I got the 12-cell battery, and I have been very pleased with it so far. I ran it down the day after receiving my notebook and it took a solid four hours to get the battery drained. I ran MobileMeter (http://dssc3031.ece.cmu.edu/~tamaru/mobilemeter/mobilemeterreadme-e.htm) and the new battery already registers as having 5% wear. I assume this 5% is simply lost through the chemical breakdown in the battery.
Operating System and Software:
My computer came loaded with Windows XP Home plus more preloaded software than I could deal with. The first thing I did was load a fresh install of Windows XP Professional that I already owned. This took a large burden off of boot-up time, and there is much less running in the background. I didn't really have a use for the software that came with it so I just reinstalled the drivers and was done with the factory-included cds.
The only complaints I can think of are a constant vibration when CD spin-up is at full speed and a constant, high-pitched note. The vibration sounds like something might need to be tightened to fix it, but I understand that faster speeds mean more vibration. Also, a constant high-pitched squeal is apparent when the battery is charging on AC power. I took out the battery and it went away, so I'm not sure what this is due to. I just know that it's present. Nothing a little music can't make you forget about!
The most obvious thing I enjoy about this notebook is that it does everything my desktop system did, but there is no clutter and no huge desk required to hold it all. The LCD is the second best aspect. The wide screen 15.4" LCD looks so much better than even the 19" CRT that I'm used to. Another plus is the fact that my Tascam US-224 recording interface (http://www.tascam.com/Products/US-224.html) actually works with this system. It hasn't worked with any other system without some problem. Thank you HP! One last huge upside to buying this system was just that. For what is in it, I feel I got a very good deal. After rebates, the total came to $816. It would be hard to build a desktop system with all the options I chose for that price. However, I would gladly pay now for upgrading the screen to the BrightView option. Oh well.
I definitely recommend this notebook to anyone who is looking for a powerful desktop replacement or just good notebook that they don't mind lugging around.
HP ZV6000 Media Image Gallery
Pricing and Availability
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