by Conrad Liang, Maryland USA
The HP dv8000 is a desktop replacement, 17-inch widescreen notebook that comes with either the AMD Turion-64 or the Intel Core Duo processor. The dv8000 is a thinner and lighter replacement for HP's previous 17-inch widescreen zd8000, and like the rest of the dv- family, comes in a two-tone, light gray and black color scheme. While it falls short of the top-of-the-line, 17-inch Dell and Toshiba models that include features like dedicated graphics and integrated TV tuners, the dv8000 is more than sufficient for most people. With good build quality, a beautiful screen, large storage options, numerous ports, and a price near $1,000, the dv8000 is an excellent value.
Specifications of the dv8000z reviewed
Design and Build
The dv8000 follows the same stylistic elements as its older dv-series counterparts. The two-tone case is light gray on exterior facing surfaces and black on interior surfaces. Most of the ports are located on either side of the machine for easy access, and are conveniently labeled on the keyboard surface facing the user. Power and volume buttons reside above the keyboard, as well as buttons for launching the included HP QuickPlay software, a wireless switch, and a button for Windows Calculator. All of the buttons are backlit with blue light except the wireless indicator, which stands alone in the hinge of the screen. Blue indicator lights are also provided for NUM and CAPS lock on the keyboard, and for power and drive usage on the front panel.
The build quality is generally good, with little keyboard flex and a screen that stays well in place. It does not have the indestructible feel of the ThinkPads, but compares as well as or better than most of the mainstream notebooks on the market. My unit came with several scratches on the keyboard and one faint grease stain on the cover.
The specified weight for the dv8000 is 8.1 lbs, which is about 10% lighter than the zd8000 but still fairly hefty. The width and length is large enough that carrying it around generally requires purchase of an extra-large notebook case, but at least it is relatively thin for a desktop replacement. Still, because of its heft and dimensions, this is not a notebook that you will want to carry around everywhere you go.
For reference, below is a top and side view of the dv8000z underneath a Toshiba Satellite M45 underneath a Thinkpad X40.
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Processor and Performance
The Turion-64 is one of AMD's newest processors, and is both powerful and efficient. It is based on the Athlon 64 and is capable of running 64-bit applications and thus should remain useful as the industry transitions from 32-bit to 64-bit, and it manages power nearly as efficiently as the Intel's mobile processors. The ML being reviewed uses 35 watts of power, compared to the forthcoming MT series of Turions that will use 25 watts. The processor tested runs at 1.8 GHz, but traditionally AMD processors have been faster than Intel processors running at the same clock speed.
This is the output of CPU-Z:
In pure number crunching, the 1.8 GHz processor is within striking range of similar Intel-based units.
Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits HP dv8000z (1.8 GHz Turion-64 ML-32) 2m 12s Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 29s Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 16s IBM ThinkPad T41 (1.6GHz Pentium M) 2m 23s Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 52s Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Dothan Pentium M) 1m 57s Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Pentium M) 2m 10s Sony VAIO S380 (1.83 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 42s
Below is a graph generated by running HDTune on the dv8000.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Having a large screen affords manufacturers the ability to fit larger keyboards onto notebooks, and the dv8000 is no exception. Its screen size allows HP not only to provide full-size keys (except for the function keys), but to also add a numeric keypad to the right of the standard keyboard. The Shift, Caps Lock, Tab, Enter, and Backspace keys are large like a desktop keyboard, but the Ctrl and Alt and Spacebar keys have been shrunk to make room for the Fn laptop function key. The Home, End, PgUp, PgDn, Insert, and Delete keys are not aligned as they typically are on desktop keyboards, but are in a single line above the Backspace and numeric keypad this requires some adjustment. Key feel is very nice, not quite as tactile as Thinkpads but responsive and there is very little flex in the keyboard. The touchpad is standard, with a scroll bar on the side, and is centered on the lettered part of the keyboard, between the palms during normal typing.
The dv8000 has room for many ports due to its large size.
Left side view of ports: Power cable, VGA output, S-video out, Ethernet, proprietary expansion port connector, 2 USB ports, legacy Type II PC Card slot and digital media reader (view large image)
Right side: ExpressCard slot, headphone and microphone jacks, 2 USB ports, DVD drive (view large image)
Back view: Locking mechanism, modem jack, battery, and vent (view large image)
Front view: Status indicator lights and Altec Lansing speaker (view large image)
Top view (view large image)
Bottom view (view large image)
Three types of screens are offered with the dv8000. WXGA+ and WSXGA+ are offered with BrightView, which is HP's version of the now-standard glossy screens found on many widescreen notebooks. The WXGA+ screen is also available with Ultra BrightView technology, which like Toshiba's Ultimate Trubrite technology utilizes two lamps to give a much brighter screen view. HP advertises Ultra BrightView as achieving nearly plasma TV levels of brightness, and the difference in brightness between two and one lamp is significant.
The image below compares the dv8000 Ultra Brightview screen to a Toshiba M35 with Trubrite, with both computers plugged in and displays set at full brightness. The Ultra Brightview screen is significantly brighter.
There is some minor light leakage from the bottom of the LCD panel, and one dead pixel in the lower middle portion of the screen.
In general, the brightness of the Ultra BrightView screen is quite impressive. The maximum intensity is bright enough to give me a headache in normal use, and is excellent for watching TV and movies. The lowest brightness setting is about equivalent to the Toshiba Trubrite at its highest brightness.
The included Broadcom card was not initially able to connect to my Westell Versalink router provided by Verizon DSL. An older version of the driver turned out to work. Otherwise, sensitivity is good, and connections are reasonably reliable.
The Altec Lansing speakers built into the front of the computer provide good sound for a notebook. It is definitely better than the speakers included in Thinkpads, and definitely worse than a cheap three-piece external speaker set. As with other built-in notebook speakers, bass quality is lacking.
Heat and Noise
The dv8000 generally runs cool and quiet. I had no problem using the computer on my lap for extended periods of time, and the fan noise is minimal. The optical drive produces substantial noise for a few seconds as it begins spinning, but makes little noise while watching DVDs.
The HP dv8000 is a respectable budget desktop replacement notebook that provides good power and a pleasantly large screen in a well-built package that is not too heavy to carry around or to use on your lap. With prices currently ranging from around $800 for the barebones to $1600 well equipped, the dv8000 series provides excellent value compared to other comparable systems and adds HP's reputedly good customer service.
Pricing and Availability: Configure the HP dv8000 at HP.com
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