by Ann Ellis, Montana, USA
Overview and Introduction:
I use my computers for a wide range of work — office tasks such as word-processing, photo editing and graphics, as well as desktop publishing. However, my work has gravitated more to graphic arts over the past 2.5 years and I needed to upgrade my network with a new computer capable of video editing, not just photo editing. After seriously considering the purchase of my first Apple computer, I chose to stay with a PC.
Reasons for Buying:
I quit buying desktops 9 years ago, opting instead for notebook computers with the power to serve as desktop replacements. I limited my search to that range of notebook computers again; weight isn’t really a factor because I don’t carry a notebook computer around with me daily. (I will take it traveling because I’m usually taking a large number of photos and need to burn them to CD and to client presentations.) Having researched the benchmarks of various processors available and pricing, I opted on a model with AMD’s robust-but-affordable Athlon chip — the HP Pavilion ZV6000. I wanted performance but also cost efficiency. A number of factors other than the Athlon chip caused me to choose the ZV6000 – the wide screen display with BrightView, which makes viewing your work in varying light quite comfortable (I readily admit to being in that age range that suffers from presbyopia and I really need an LCD display that I can easily read in a wide-range of lighting); a LightScribe DVD/CD burner (I burn presentations for clients and want the option for the silk-screen look, not just media with direct color inkjet printing); good keyboard layout with wrist support; decent fit and finish; a good reputation for customer support and a good price (my system with an extra 12-cell LI-ON battery cost a little over $1,400 after an instant $100 savings – it will be slightly less when I get my $50 mail-in rebate).
Where and How Purchased:
Here’s the specific configuration that I ordered from HP’s online shopping site (there are no retail stores that offer in-store ordering in my town so HP’s online shop was my best option):
- CTO Pavilion zv6000 series notebook
- Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Professional with SP2
- AMD Athlon(TM) 64 3200+ (2.0GHz/512KB L2 Cache)
- 15.4″ WXGA BrightView Widescreen (1280×800)
- 128MB ATI RADEON(R) XPRESS 200M w/Hypermemory(TM)
- 1.0GB DDR SDRAM (2x512MB)
- 100 GB 4200 RPM Hard Drive
- LightScribe 8x DVD+/-RW&CD-RW Combo w/Double Layer
- Sonic MyDVD Deluxe – Create & Share Digital Media
- 54g(TM) 802.11b/g WLAN w/ 125HSM/SpeedBooster(TM)
- Extra 12 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
- Microsoft(R) Works/Money
When I placed my order, HP estimated a 3-week build time; however, my computer shipped early and reached me before the estimated build date. Best of all, shipping was free, which in this era of high fuel costs and fuel surcharges, saved me at least $69.00.
Build and Design:
Although the silver painted plastic may not wear well with time, it does look nice on my new computer. If there were an option, however, I would have gone with a monotone, black case. The fit and finish of the ZV6000 is excellent. It feels sturdy and I’m hoping the hinge design is an improvement over my older Dell notebook, on which a hinge broke this year. Another thing that I’ve notice is how much less bulky this notebook computer is compared to the older ones on my home network.
HP ZV6000 Lid (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 BrightView Screen (view larger image)
I love the ZV6000’s BrightView screen. I love the fact that it’s a wide screen as well. (I serve as a volunteer Webmaster for a local not-for-profit. The wide screen allows me to see the web pages I maintain just as if I were using a desktop monitor. No more scrolling horizontally to check the layout.)
I can use the laptop while sitting on my screened porch and see the screen clearly in daylight. Something I cannot do with my other notebook computers. The unit I received had no dead pixels.
The ZV6000 has Altec Lansing speakers located on the front of the computer – in the wrist support area. The sound quality is mediocre, which I find typical for notebooks. There’s not much bass and the richness of the sound just doesn’t compare to amplified, external speakers. While at home, I use external Yamaha speakers with a subwoofer; traveling, I use headphones.
Processor and Performance:
The ZV6000 delivers on performance. I had begun experiencing problems working with multiple images in Photoshop on my older Dell, which has a Celeron chip and only 192 MB of RAM. (Most of these problems, I believe, are due to the larger images produced by the 5 mega pixel camera that I began using 2 years ago.) System lockups would occur and I’d lose all my data. I’m happy to say that I haven’t experienced such problems using the ZV6000, plus the performance and processing time of Photoshop has improved drastically. I can also edit video with the ZV6000, something I wouldn’t even have attempted with my older systems. The first DVD that I burned with the ZV6000, which had multiple videos and a menu-driven navigation, only took 45 minutes to burn. (However, the Lightscribe drive took 35 minutes to burn the label.)
Using the Super Pi program, it took 2m3s to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy.
|HP Pavilion ZV6000 (AMD Athlon 64 3200+ 2.0GHz)||2m 3s|
|Fujitsu S6231 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 6s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
Here is a view of the benchmark tests using HD Tune 2.50.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
HP ZV6000 keyboard and touchpad (view larger image)
I am a big fan of touchpads. (I had significant problems trying to use a pointing stick on IBM Thinkpads; I’m just not one of those people who can get the cursor to go where I want it to go using a pointing stick.) The location of the ZV6000’s touchpad is perfect for me the center of the wrist rest. That’s where my hands are usually positioned while typing. If you’re someone who would prefer to plug in a mouse, HP has made it very easy to turn off the touchpad; there’s a key above it that can be depressed to turn it off.
I do think that HP could have used a standard keyboard layout, rather than repositioning many often used keys, such as delete, page up, page down, etc. Also, the keys themselves are a little shallow and I sometimes find myself typing fast enough that it feels like my fingers are catching on adjacent keys and that they might come off. The wrist rest is a strong selling feature for me. (I believe it helps reduce the risk of carpel tunnel syndrome for those like me who type a lot throughout the day.)
Input and Output Ports:
There are 4 USB 2.0 ports on the ZV6000. Here’s how they’re laid out: 1 on the back, 2 on the left side and 1 on the right side. The ZV6000 has a 1394 device connection port, which is located on the right side and an S-Video jack to connect to a TV, which is also on the right side. Personally, I do miss the inclusion of older, legacy ports since I have some older devices that I use and would like to connect to this computer a Rocket e-book and a clam style handheld. For now I’ll use them on the other computers on my network. Ultimately, I’ll probably buy one of the USB devices that provide a parallel port and several serial ports.
HP ZV6000 left side ports (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 right side ports (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 under side (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 back side (view larger image)
HP ZV6000 optical drive located on the left side (view larger image)
I ordered HP’s internal wireless card with my system. (I didn’t order Bluetooth, but it is an additional option that is available.) HP uses Broadcom’s 802.11b/g card. I have a wireless network, which uses a Linksys router. I’ve experienced problems in the past trying to use an Orinoco gold card that I have for travel. I was leery that I would be unable to use the Broadcom card immediately out-of-the-box; however, I was pleasantly surprised. The ZV6000 recognized my system immediately and I could get online without modifying the configuration. That said, when I use the wireless card around the house, I have to run the repair utility periodically to refresh my DHCP settings because the Linksys router drops the connection after about 40 minutes. This isn’t much of a problem because I’m hardwired to my router while working at my desk.
I’m pleased with the battery life of the 12-cell LI-ON batteries that I ordered with the ZV6000. I have been able to get between 2.5 – 3 hours with one of the batteries. I don’t work that often on battery and I know batteries are the most short-lived part on a notebook computer. (I have a wonderful Micron laptop that is now a desktop because I can no longer get batteries for it.) I know that at some point down the road that I’ll need to replace the OEM batteries for this unit and I hope that they’re available for a significantly long period of time.
Operating System and Software
I upgraded to XP Pro for this system. I wanted the added configurability for security and network settings. HP did include the operating system CD, I just hope I never have a major problem that necessitates reinstalling anything that requires begging Microsoft for activation permission. One of the complaints I’ve consistently had about Microsoft products is the lack of adequate documentation. HP included a 227- page user manual on CD ROM. Microsoft offers nothing but limited web page support.
HP includes a trial version of Norton Anti-Virus, Muvee Technology’s movie-making software, I-Tunes software, HP’s Image Zone software, Microsoft Works, and a link to Microsoft’s trial version of its Office 2003 software.
I have not needed to contact customer support at this point. HP did keep me informed on shipping information after I had placed my order.
Other than the minor complaint about the shallowness of the keyboard keys, I’m happy with this system. Given the configuration I chose, I know I got a good deal for the money.
I give big kudos to HP for being one of the manufacturers willing to provide a line of notebook computers using AMD’s chips. I’m quite impressed with the performance of the Athlon chip when using processor-intense applications such as Photoshop and MyDVD. I can have multiple applications while using these programs, as well, and don’t experience performance degradation. I like the fit and finish of the ZV6000 and the BrightView wide screen. The system stays cool, probably thanks in large part to the 2 fans. It’s also extremely quiet.
I hope to have this notebook computer in my network for many years. (I don’t usually throw away computers but keep them integrated in my home network, which is a good thing since some of my 16-bit applications won’t work on an XP system.) I feel that those of us who may be more budget conscious can get excellent system performance using AMD processors and I’m happy to see some manufacturers out there building notebook computers with them. I don’t think my ZV6000 will be obsolete anytime in the near future (meaning 24-36 months down the road).
- BrightView wide screen
- AMD Athlon processor
- Good fit and finish
- Slim profile, not as heavy as older notebooks that served as desktop replacements
- Excellent performance using graphics programs that are processor-intense
- Reasonable price
- Keyboard layout and shallow keys
- Lack of serial ports (then none of the computer manufacturers seem to be including legacy ports on their new notebook computers)
- Lack of support for CF cards from cameras (the digital media slot, which comes with the upgrade of the graphics card, only supports SM, SD, MM/Pro, MMD, and XD)
9 out of 10
Pricing and Availability: HP ZV6000 Pricing