Compaq Presario v2000z Review (pics, specs)

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  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 9
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 7
      • Usability
      • 10
      • Design
      • 9
      • Performance
      • 7
      • Features
      • 9
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 9
      • Total Score:
      • 8.57
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

by Chinna, Washington USA

Overview and Introduction:

Compaq v2000z (view larger image)

I was looking for a thin-and-light style laptop for replacement of my previous Toshiba built machine.

My criteria for a new notebook was as follows:

  • Weight: Around 5 pounds (So that I can carry around easily and hookup my GPS device in the car)
  • Cost: Less than $1,000
  • Screen: 14″ Widescreen (or ideal is 13.3″), 12.1″ is too small.
  • Fan: should not run while browsing or when working on docs.

This Compaq V2000z model is built for HP by the major laptop OEM vendor Quanta using ATI Radeon Xpress 200M mobile chipset.  This chipset has lots of potential and has reasonable integrated graphics. You can check ATI website for detail about this chipset.

The v2000z I bought has following configuration:

  • AMD Turion64 ML-37 ( 2000MHz, 1MB cache)
  • 256MB DDR333 SDRAM( I had 2×256 DDR333 with me)
  • 40GB 4200RPM HDD
  • DVD-ROM Drive
  • ATI Radeon Xpress 200M with 128MB shared memory
  • Internal Broadcom wireless b/g card
  • 14″ BrightView widescreen ( 1280×768)
  • 6 cell battery
  • Ports: USB x 3, 4 pin firewire x 1, S-Video, 6-in-1 card reader, Expansion Port 2,  Lan, Modem, VGA, PCMCIA slot and one Kensington locking slot.

Reasons for Buying:

Laptops I considered when shopping were as follows: 

The laptop I ended up buying was the Compaq V2000z, my reasons for this are as follows:

  1. It is cheaper than all other models I was considering
  2. It comes with 64Bit processor making it future proof for some time at least. (I keep trying new stuff)
  3. For the processor speed I am getting it is relatively cheap.
  4. Weight and size was comparable to the rest or lighter (only lighter one is Averatec)
  5. 14″ BrightView Screen
  6. Has relatively good integrated graphics unlike Averatec SiS or Intel Integrated.

Why the Turion ML-37 processor choice?

  1. Sempron is ruled out as it is not 64Bit processor (There are desktop 64bit processors though).
  2. I want to have at least 1MB cache. It comes handy when processor is running at low speed.
  3. ML-37 is 35Watts version of Turion but it is more power efficient when it is running at low speeds (other than 800 MHz) and has power when I need it.  For Example: It only consumes 24.2 watts when running at 1600Mhz where as ML-30 consumes 32Watts and MT-30 uses 22 watts.

Some people might wonder why I’d buy a configuration with a 40GB 4200RPM drive?  Well, I want to buy a retail 40GB 5400RPM drive later. This way I will get 3 years warranty instead of the 1 year HP and will have 2.5″ spare HDD to use as portable drive also.

I liked the Averatec AV4155-EH1 looks with Turion64 MT-30 Processor, but that was about $1,100 ($1,200 with Taxes) and it uses the SiS MB chipset vs. ATI in the V2000z and you’re only getting the MT-30( 25 Watts Version of Turion). And I know the Turion ML-37 at 1600 MHz anyway uses less power than that anyway!
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Where and How Purchased:

I bought the v2000z from HPShopping.com and I think I got a very good deal. The product was shipped much faster than estimated date. It was at my door in less than 10-days once I place my order.

Build & Design: 

For the configuration I took with a 6-cell battery the weight is 5.38lbs.  The dimensions are 13.15″ (L) x 9.1″ (W) x Front 1.29″ (min H) Back 1.53″ (max H) .  It has a slim profile like the Apple PowerBook G4 series. The flat profile provides good looks and the black textured top makes it resistant to slight scratches, or at least scratches won’t be visible easily like they are on those silver colored smooth profile tops (such as the Dell 600m or HP DV1000). For added grip the slotted bottom comes in handy.

The build quality is I think average for the thin and light laptop category. I don’t think it is in the same league as my previous Toshiba, but of course that was a $1,700 laptop where as I only paid $750 for this one, so I should not compare the two directly.  What I’m basically saying is that I don’t think the v2000z would survive a 4 foot drop on to a concrete floor.

Heat and Noise:

For the normal task of web browsing the v2000z is pretty quiet and the fan is off mostly. But on warmer days it does turn on once every 20-30 minutes for a few seconds (typically for 20 seconds) and then stops. When the fan is running it is not loud at all, but I would not say it is whisper quiet either.  The fan turns on when the CPU temperature reaches 55C and turns off when the temperature drops to 50C.  While running with full load (at maximum speed and maximum load) the CPU fan turns on and off every 20-30 seconds. Not bad at all. It also looks like the fan has different speeds, but I’m not sure how much it varies.

I do not feel heat is a problem with this laptop. After prolonged use on warmer days it also gets warm, but never hot. One thing I observed is that the left palm area gets warmer after an hour or so.  The hard drive temperatures are warmer than I would like. After a couple of hours HD temps climb to 48C, sometimes hitting 51-52C, if you’re doing any disk intensive tasks. Still though, overall the v2000z pretty good in heat and noise department.

Screen:

v2000z Screen displaying Blue Angels (view larger image)

The screen is a 14″ BrightView Widescreen with 1280×768 resolution and it looks wonderful. I did not find any dead or stuck pixels. (My previous Toshiba had one stuck pixel).  Brightness is quite good and even in bright light you can see the screen fine. 

The problem with BrightView option is the reflections you’ll get on the screen.  It is like a glass surface without any anti-reflective coating. Initially I was not sure if I wanted this option, but it was a free upgrade and I can always return the laptop if it is really bothersome.

In shops under bright fluorescent lights I find the screen actually appears worse and is more reflective, but at home I find it is okay. Picture quality wise, it is really good. Video and photos look very smooth and colors jump out providing more of a 3D feel.  Watching DVDs is really a joy on this screen. 720p WMV HD video samples from Microsoft are even wonderful.

Viewing angles are not great, but reasonable and the backlight seems to be even.

Checkout the sample screen shots I have taken with my camera while playing the DVD. The pictures do not do the screen justice as my camera is unable to adjust exposure properly with the screen, but in person DVDs and photos really look good on the screen. It was eye candy to play WMV HD samplers from Microsoft, they really look wonderful on this screen. You may see some Moir pattern on photo shots, but that has to do with the camera, nothing to do with screen.

DVD being viewed on screen (view larger image)

I connected the VGA port to my 32″ LCD TV and extended my desktop without any problems( 1280×768). But I could not get it work with TVs native resolution 1366×768 even using the PowerStrip, where as using my desktop nVidia MX440-8X video card I can do that.  The video quality using S-Video is not bad, but not as good as my desktop.
I liked the display latch with two anchor points but with only one latch release button. On my previous Toshiba I need to press two latches release buttons simultaneously and open the screen.

Speakers: 

This model sports Altec Lansing speakers which are front mounted in both corners (see the pictures). The sound is surprisingly good. It provides very nice treble, good tonal quality, and there is even a hint of bass. My previous laptop had Harmon Kardon speakers, but I find the quality of these speakers is actually much better. Especially for the thin and light category I can rate these as top tier. (Compared to Dell 600M, 700m, Averatec 4100 series and Apple PowerBook G4).

Internals:

The bottom of the Laptop is marked very clearly where everything is. Really helpful for newbies.

If we see the close-up photos, you can see memory cover is marked with a memory symbol, the hard drive cover is marked with a hard drive symbol and even the DVD drive retaining screw is marked.  This is the first laptop I’ve ever seen with these markings. I do not know why other manufacturers want to make these things a big secret!

Bottom view of covers on laptop (view larger image)

If we observe the plastic housing inside, it has some bronze color coat. I am not sure what it is for, probably a heat resistant coat or maybe some kind of anti-static coat as plastics tend to build-up static electricity.

 

Once these covers are removed you can see memory, the Broadcom mini-PCI wireless card, and the hard drive. Installing memory and a new hard drive is straight forward. I saw HDD temperatures a bit on the higher side on this laptop, and that might be caused by the fact there is no ventilation close to the hard drive. As the HDD is below the left palm area, this also affects the left palm rest area temperature — it becomes warm.  It is nowhere near to being uncomfortable, but more than I would like. In between the HDD and palm area, there is a PCMCIA slot (Check the photos). What I found out is the PCMCIA slot dummy cover also gets warm. Removing this dummy cover helps somewhat in reducing the palm area and hard drive temperature (by 1 to 2 C).  The hard drive and design is the same design as in the HP DV1000 and Compaq V2000 series.

CPU Fan (view larger image)

Replacing the DVD drive is just a matter of removing a single screw. One burning question often asked is can we replace the OEM DVD drive with after market slim burners? If you see the detailed shots of DVD Drive mating surface on the laptop chassis, it looks like there should not be any problem (I think, don’t count on me on that). But again, the face plate will not be at the same level as current one, as the current drive face plate is custom made for this laptop. I am not sure if this OEM face plate can be fixed on after market drives. I always hated the standard slide-out laptop optical drives. You have to pull the tray out, carefully press the CD against the hub, and when removing a CD you also you have to be careful. For this reason I really like Apple PowerBook G4 slot drive style loading drive. Forget all the fiddling, just slide the CD in and take the CD out. By the way, if anyone wondering if the drive is Master or slave, it is running in Master mode. Someday I will try installing a slot loading DVD burner, so that I do not have to worry about breaking the drive caddy.

Heatsink (view larger image)

The CPU heatsink is made completely of copper, which is good. No wonder the CPU temperature drops the moment the fan runs, even in a few seconds while at full load. The CPU fan grill is also designed in such a way; it can suck air from more area than actual fan size.  If someone is particular about what kind of chipset they used for various things like FireWire, PCMCIA, etc. then please check the device manager snapshot provided.

Device Manager snapshot (view larger image)

Processor and Performance:

Performance is pretty snappy. It feels quite quick. The processor I chose was AMD Turion 64 ML-37 which is the top speed available through HP (There is an ML-40 available, but HP does not offer it at this time). Currently with my  40GB 4200RPM HDD and 512MB DDR333 MHz RAM it is taking around 32 -33 seconds to boot (I took out all unnecessary software installed by HP).  It takes around 8 seconds to get to bios and 25 seconds to get to Windows (when Windows loading screen comes on).  I’m not sure how much it would improve with a 5400RPM drive.

So far I have not seen any glitches or any issues with hanging. I use this laptop mostly for web browsing, checking email, photo editing, home video editing, and for some personal software development using Eclipse Java version.

And regarding games, I am not a gamer, but I do once in a while play Unreal Tournament 2004 (UT2004). UT2004 played at full resolution (1280×768 @ 32bit) color works great without any frame drops. I assigned 64MB out of 512MB for the video card. But again, that is more of a video card performance than processor. In several tests and benchmarks I conducted I found the ML-37 seems to be on par with Athlon64 3200+ in processor performance. It lacks dual channel memory bandwidth, but it really depends on what application you are using as to whether this matters. In MPEG2 video encoding tests it was lagging behind my P4 3.06Ghz desktop. Maybe some fault lies with the slow hard drive and single channel memory (2200MB/s vs. 4200MB/s). My Desktop is actually a Pentium 4 2.4B @ 3.06 with 512MB DDR400MHz dual channel memory. I used TMPGEnc v2.56 to convert 6 min 04 seconds DV clip to MPEG2 @ NTSC 8000Kbps at default setting. Desktop took 10 min 4 seconds, and Turion ML-37 took 10 Min 28 seconds. It is known that Pentium 4 is always stronger at MPEG2 encoding.  DDR400 RAM and faster HDD would have helped at least to cover some gap. In many other though the v2000z did beat my desktop.

Benchmarks:

The benchmarks run for this laptop are rather extensive and so the content for this are seperated into another page:

Click here for Compaq Presario v2000z benchmarks

Keyboard, Touchpad and controls:

I did not see any keyboard flex as such. I find the v2000z is quite comfortable to type on. I especially love the full size backspace and enter keys (the full size backspace key was missing on my previous Toshiba laptop and I really missed that).  The keys are light gray in color with black lettering. Some people prefer black keyboards, but I like this one as well because it is easy to see the keys when it is a little dark.

Keyboard (view larger image)

The touchpad is good with it’s vertical/horizontal scrolling and tap option as well. The software has the option to increase scroll area as well, which I actually needed to use to increase the vertical scrolling area. It also has a button with an LED light associated to it to turn on/off the touchpad when you’re using a mouse. Turning off the touchpad also helps unexpected cursor movement during typing.

The left and right mouse buttons are okay, they’re a little stiff to press and make clicking noises like those Dell Latitude series laptops. If you use a laptop in bed then your wife is definitely not going to like this clicking noise if they are trying to get to sleep!  I prefer the soft press buttons with no noise.  So I mostly use touch pad tap option for registering left clicks when ever possible.

On the top of the keyboard it has a wireless on/off touch switch (all are tap/momentary switches instead of slide switches) and it glows blue when it is on.  Also at the top of the keyboard is the power switch, Volume down, Up and mute switches, glows orange.

Function keys at the top of the keyboard (F1 – F12) also work as Media keys, LCD brightness controls in conjunction with the “Fn” button. The multimedia keys work with media player, powerDVD etc.  These functions do not need any software, you can remove the HP software and they still work.

On the left top of the keyboard you will see a small gray pin, it is LCD latch switch. When you close the LCD, it presses this button and sends the laptop to sleep/hibernate.

Input and Output Ports:

DVD drive sliding out (view larger image)

DVD drive seated in place (view larger image)

In total it has 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 Firewire port, 1 VGA, I PCMCIA slot, 6-in-1 Media Reader, 1 Expansion Port 2.

Right side: you will see 6-in-1 card reader, Firewire, USB port, DVD-ROM Drive, S-Video Port and another USB (view larger image)

Front: Altec Lansing Speakers (surprisingly good for laptop speakers) Power, HDD, Charge indicators, Screen Latch, Mic and Headphone ports (view larger image)

Left side view 1 (view larger image)

Left side view 2 (view larger image)

Left Side: VGA port for external monitor (support dual monitor mode), Expansion port 2, LAN, MODEM, USB, PCMCIA slot, and Kensington locking port.

The Expansion Port 2 has lot of outputs built into it. You can use it with HP Expansion base (Docking station), or HP xc2000 media cable kit. It has digital audio out, stereo RCA audio out, S-Video, Composite Video out, Firewire, and USB out through single cable. It works as good as a docking station and it is quite reasonable at $89 and comes with a remote too.

Back: Nothing much here, just 18.5V DC power socket, Heaksink grills, and LCD hinges.

Under side view (view larger image)

Bottom: CPU Fan, Heatsink, Ram Slot cover, Mini-PCI slot cover, HDD cover, DVD-ROM removal screws, Battery latch and battery

I really like the battery latch mechanism, just push the latch all the way to left and it pops out the battery by itself. Just one handed operation. I remember how I struggled to remove the battery from an Apple PowerBook G4 when the locking mechanism broke.

Wireless:

The v2000z comes with Broadcom wireless B/G mini-PCI network card and reception is pretty good. It has an On/Off momentary switch. I always got Excellent to very good coverage in my home, and I can not say that about all the wireless adapters/cards I’ve had.

Battery:

I have been getting around 3:00 hours for browsing, document editing, downloading and am happy about that because mostly I use it at home and I always have a power outlet around. You can upgrade to a 12-cell battery for a mere $25 dollars and it gives you almost 6 hours of runtime. It will raise the back of the laptop, which is good for cooling. But it also adds half-a-pound extra weight, which I don’t want and the 12 cell battery also does not run the complete width across the laptop thereby making it a little inconvenient when it is on your lap. The power adapter is also long enough so it is not a problem. If I use the laptop for photo editing and some other heavy stuff I am get around 2:30 hours, and that is the minimum I am getting. But I have been reading in the forums here at NotebookReview.com that not all are getting battery life like that. At any rate, if somebody is not even getting 2:30 hours for typical browsing, I think probably there is some problem with the battery or laptop.

Operating System and Software:

The v2000z comes with Windows XP Home by default, but can be upgraded to XP Professional. It comes with many trial version software programs which I uninstalled the first day without trying. But looks like Sonic MyDVD plus is useful if someone wants to capture video and make DVDs. It is simplistic and good for beginners. For DVD playback the v2000z comes with InterVideo WinDVD. Quality wise it is good, but it takes a lot of CPU for what it does and I am not fond of its control interface. I use PowerDVD and all the multimedia keys provided on the keyboard work for it.

Customer Support:

I did not need to use the customer support so far and hope I will not need it. I heard it is reasonably good.

Complaints:

DVD drive tray cover (view larger image)

First complaint is with the DVD drive tray face plate. Instead of making it so that it tapers at the bottom part of chassis they added taper to the DVD drive face plate to match the sloped corners of the notebook. When you hold and lift the laptop on the sides the load goes on to the DVD Drive tray (caddy) which is very bad and could cause premature failure. I do not understand why they could not see while it was in design stage this problem would occur. Of course a work around is simple, do not hold and lift in the drive area, or better yet make sure you are holding in such a way that load goes on to the bottom of the laptop. See the photos.

Pointing to where load would be focused when laptop is tilted (view larger image)

Second complaint is the power supply cord. The power supply it self is quite small which is nice. But I do not know why they have to make it grounded cable in AC side. Even if it is grounded they could make it a lot thinner or at least they could go with individual code design (like Dell 3 pin AC cable on the 600m). This is thick and un-manageable, more like ATX power supply cable than a laptop power cable. In fact the power supply is only 65watts, including efficiency losses it takes less than 1 AMP current on AC side, I have no idea why they have chosen standard 7AMP bulky cable (maybe they saved a quarter?). Of course you can get away with one of those slim retractable AC power cords for 9 bucks.  But the whole point is to make it compact in the first place

Praises:

  • Good balance of Power, Weight, and price.
  • Good overall Value.
  • Little more future proof than current generation centrinos.
  • Excellent 14″ BrightView Screen.
  • Nice touch pad with vertical and Horizontal scroll.
  • Finally full size backspace (to correct my usual typos!) and enter keys on keyboard.

Conclusion:

Would I recommend this laptop to someone? Yes, without a doubt. Isn’t there anything better than this? Yes there are lots, but not at this price!

Pricing and Availability:  Compaq Presario v2000z


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