by Alex Batchilo
The HP dv2000, along with the Compaq v3000, series are the company’s new models designed to replace the HP dv1000 and Compaq v2000, respectively. Shedding the traditional sharp-edged form for a more aesthetically pleasing design, geared specifically toward the relatively new dual-core processors by AMD and Intel, and weighing under six pounds, the dv2000 offers a new option for budget-minded buyers of a thin-and-light laptop.
The dv2000 comes in two customizable models — the AMD Turion 64 X2-powered 2000z with an nVidia nForce 6150 video card, and the 2000t, which costs an extra $100 and offers an Intel Core-Duo CPU and an Intel GMA 950 video card.
I opted for the AMD model dv2000 (dv2000z), choosing the following specs:
- AMD Turion(TM) 64 X2 Mobile TL-50 (1.60GHz/256KB) (1.075 V)
- 14.1″ WXGA BrightView Widescreen (1280×800) w/10 brightness levels (non-customizable)
- NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) Go 6150 (non-customizable)
- 2.0GB DDR2 SDRAM (2x1024MB) (maximum offered)
- 80 GB 5400 RPM Serial ATA Hard Drive
- Super Multi 8X DVD+/-R/RW w/Double Layer Support
- 802.11a/b/g WLAN
- 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
- 1.3 MP In-built Webcam (non-customizable)
- Windows XP Home (later manually re-installed into Windows XP Pro w/SP2)
- Slots (non-customizable):
- Security cable slot
- ExpressCard/54/34 slot
- Digital Media (SD/MS/Ms-Pro/MMC/XD card slots)
- Expansion Port 3 Connector
- Ports (non-customizable):
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- IEEE 1394 FireWire port
- S-Video-Out jack
- External monitor VGA port
- RJ-45 LAN jack
- RJ-11 Modem jack
- Power jack
- 2 Headphone out ports
- Microphone in port
- InfraRed remote control receiver
- Built-in Altec Lansing speakers (non-customizable)
- HP QuickPlay buttons (non-customizable):
- Main Menu
- Skip Backwards
- Skip Forward
- Volume Up/Down
- 5.29 pounds
- 13.15″x 9.33″x 1.54″ dimensions
Reasons for Buying
Each laptop has, essentially, three competing fields to expend its limited resources on — price, mobility, and power. To excel in one, the customer has to sacrifice the others. A power-hungry gamer, for example, could go for a 15-pound, $4000 Alienware behemoth, sacrificing both mobility and all frugal instinct to reach the bleeding-edge of the gaming laptops.
When selecting my own new laptop, I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice any of these aspects, and so had to strive for a compromising, if average machine. The dv2000z has a base cost around $800, but can quickly skyrocket with customizable upgrades (mine cost $1400, but it was more expensive then than it is now). It’s stylishly lightweight, but hampered by a small battery. It features a brand-new dual core, 64-bit processor with 2 gigs of RAM, but provides only a timid video card. It can’t claim to be superior in any single aspect to the more specialized notebooks out there, but taken as a gestalt whole, it presents quite an attractive little package.
Here’s how the dv2000z approaches each of these cores.
The HP dv2000 has a handful of competitors in its class from companies like Dell, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Sony. As with most things, the more you’re willing to pay, the better quality goods you’re likely to get (albeit the proportion between quality and price may not keep consistent).
The Dell e1405, for example, offers much the same options as the dv2000t (both being Intel-based models) and costs about the same (give or take applicable coupons). Both, along with the even cheaper Compaq V3000, rack up around $700 or $800 as their starting cost. Each of these companies, however, is known for producing flimsy notebooks with limited-quality monitors.
Toshiba’s Satellite M100 starts off around $800 as well, yet charges more money for each customizable component. For example, to have two 512 MB RAM sticks, Toshiba charges $155, while HP $75. Fujitsu and Sony continue this upward trend but offer better screens, longer battery life, a lighter weight, or greater durability.
I won’t be able to reproduce the prices that were in effect at the time I made my purchase but the HP and Dell offered deals well within the $1500 barrier, while others reached beyond $1800 and into $2000. Having a budget limit of $1750 and no ambition to actually reach it, the dv2000 seemed one of the only viable choices to also offer a stylish appearance and substantial computing power. Had I remembered about the student discount on time, it would cost even less.
Mobility (and Style)
The dv2000z on arrival (view large image)
The laptop is definitely one of the most aesthetically pleasing I’ve seen yet. All of its edges are rounded down, and the upper chassis is made of a sturdy, glossy imprint. The top is black with subtle grey waves flowing throughout.
Top lid of the notebook, compared to an Xbox controller (view large image)
The left side, shown below, has the following ports and slots, from left to right:
Security cable slot, S-Video-Out jack, External monitor VGA port, Expansion Port 3, LAN jack, USB port, FireWire port, Digital Media Slot (bottom), ExpressCard slot (top).
The front has the following features, from left to right:
Three lights for power, battery, and processing, the WLan manual switch, IR remote control receiver, microphone in port, two Headphones out ports.
The right side also has numerous ports:
The CD/DVD burner, two USB ports, modem jack, power connector.
As a 14.1″ laptop, it doesn’t have a full keyboard, but what it does have feels durable and quiet. Above is the blue-lit row of power and QuickPlay buttons, and the built-in speakers at the very top. The touchpad is fairly small but still comfortable and sensitive enough to use easily. The button above will manually disable it.
There are only two things that leave me less than impressed with the keyboard setup on this laptop. First, the QuickPlay buttons are somewhat unresponsive, and you might have to tap the mute key several times to see an effect. Similarly, the volume buttons sometimes get stuck and will raise or lower it more than intended. Secondly, because the palm pads aren’t sloped downward, typing on them for a prolonged period behind a desk can irritate the skin on your lower wrist as you rub it around between the keys and touchpad. Neither of these is a significant hassle, but for lack of any other disadvantage, they still gain one’s attention.
The overall build feels very secure and durable. The hinges are very firm; you’d sooner lift the laptop than open it if you tried to open it with one hand. The frame offers considerable resistance to twisting and the screen shows no ripples.
Furthermore, the light dv2000 is a laptop by the essence of the word. Even if turned on for the whole day, the temperature doesn’t rise above 51 degrees Celsius, and the machine can usually be comfortably kept on the lap. The left palm pad gets slightly warm, but not enough to cause any inconvenience.
The heat exhaust and battery are below the screen at the laptop’s rear. This seems an optimal location, as one can easily cool the laptop by simply raising its back.
In the same spirit, the dv2000 is incredibly quiet, and produces only a slight whir when either the hard drive or optical drive is in use. Even the quietest sound setting will drown out whatever subtle noise the machine makes.
The Altec Lansing speakers are a lot better than I expected from a (budget-intended) laptop. They have their limitations, of course; they let out some static with heavy bass, and sound a bit muffled when compared to a 5.1 speaker setup a desktop PC can have. Nevertheless, they sound off clearly with most music and are loud enough for most environments. Using them at home, in fact, they are unbearably loud and I generally keep them at 1/3 of their full potential.
The screen, for its part, offers vivid and saturated colors; it’s simply a pleasure to look at the lush pictures it shows that would look bland on my desktop. It is a widescreen monitor too, allowing movies to take up more space on it, although I doubt I’ll be running two programs side-by-side on it anytime soon. There is some small light leakage at the bottom of the screen that is more noticeable when looking at a black background, or from an angle. Compare these shots of Cowboy Bebop:
The screen offers ten settings of brightness, and can be comfortably viewed starting level 7. It is glossy, however, so despite offering very saturated colors, bringing it outside in the middle of the day will cause intolerable glare. This is one laptop you won’t be taking to the beach.
Weight and Battery Life
Although you’ll have no challenge in taking it with you anywhere else. Weighing in at just above 5 pounds, carrying it around in a backpack feels no different from carrying a textbook, while the diagonally 14.1″ frame takes up just about as much space.
Yet the dv2000z, in its mediocre battery longevity, has a strict ceiling for its mobility. Although the HP site claims the regular battery will last 4 hours, my experience was much more limited. When reformatting the computer, reinstalling Windows, and generally setting it up that is, with the brightness at 7, all the hardware devices running, the CPU using both cores at 1.075 V, a USB flash stick sticking out, and the wireless switch turned on, the battery lasted only 1 hour and 36 minutes before going into stand-by with 6% left. Simply watching a movie in Windows (single core, .8 V) at level 5 brightness and without wireless yielded a still meager 2 hours before stand-by kicked in. Watching the movie in QuickPlay should make the battery last another 15 minutes, presumably. The problem can be solved with a 12-cell battery, but at the price of an added pound, $50, and a bulky design.
As a result, then, the dv2000 is a portable laptop without a portable battery.
A laptop’s abilities and usability depend on both its hardware and the software it has to manipulate the devices.
Over the week or two that I’ve used the dv2000 so far, I’ve had no slowdowns whatsoever, even when copying multiple large files, running anti-virus, playing a movie, and browsing the web with numerous tabs. It does have its limits, though, as these benchmark results show:
Calculating Pi to 2M decimal digits, the notebook managed in 1m 59s. It’s not at all impressive, especially when compared to Intel’s Core Duo, and is largely the result of a small CPU cache. It shouldn’t at all affect your computing, unless you plan on crunching numbers with small programs all the time.
HP dv2000z (1.6GHz Turion64 X2)
Compaq Presario V3000z (1.6GHz Turion64 X2)
Gateway M255 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
Lenovo Z61m (2.0GHz Core Duo)
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
IBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)
Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)
Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)
Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)
HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
Asus V6Va (Pentium M 1.86 GHz)
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
|Notebook||3DMark 06 Results|
|HP dv2000z (1.6 GHz Turion X2, nVidia 6150)||224 3D Marks|
|HP dv8000t (2.00 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400)||707 3D Marks|
|Dell XPS M1710 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7900 GTX 512MB)||4,744 3D Marks|
|Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB||1,528 3D Marks|
|Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||794 3DMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800GTX)||4,085 3DMarks|
|Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)||1,819 3D Marks|
Here too the dv2000 underperforms by modern standards, in large part due to its weak video card. Games wishing to play new, graphics-intensive games should look elsewhere.
Here’s how the dv2000z stacked up in PCMark05 results against other notebooks. This result considers system performance as a whole (processor, graphics card, hard drive).
|HP dv2000z (1.6 GHz Turion X2)||2,789 PCMarks|
|Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo)||3,487 PCMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60)||5,597 PCMarks|
|Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||3,637 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron e1405 (1.66 GHz Intel T2300)||2,879 PCMarks|
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400)||3,646 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz)||1,877 PCMarks|
With 2789, the laptop is well within modern standards, although it should be able to go a little higher.
Summarily, the dv2000z’s present configuration shows some pretty good numbers for general use, but people intending to play graphics-intensive games should give it no further thought.
On arrival, HP packed the notebook with a good lot of bloatware, spanning from RealPlayer Rhapsody to countless trial versions of WildTangent internet games like Scrabble. It was annoying enough to have to remove, but the real issues lay with the original OS.
The pre-installed Windows XP Home Edition I bought to save money wasn’t going to stick around for long in either case, but I was irritated to find it wouldn’t even connect to any wireless networks despite telling me how “excellent” the signal was. Trying to upgrade it, I got an error in the middle of setup, and so was left with a functional Windows XP Pro and an unfinished setup at the same time — a bothersome, if harmless, matter.
Later on, seeking to take advantage of the 64-bit processor, I tried to install Windows XP x64, which proved far too tedious a process, in good part due to the absence of HP support for 64-bit computing. Despite offering advanced processors, the company’s software support is still stuck in the x86 era, a fact that becomes intolerable once Windows is actually set up but has no compatible video or audio drivers. From what I hear, Vista will have better compatibility, but I haven’t had the patience to try it out yet.
In all, I was left unhappy with the original bloated software package, a dysfunctional Windows, and lack of 64-bit driver support.
The computer also comes with a hefty partition set aside entirely as a backup of the original state of things. If you opted to buy the $10 backup CD, formatted the main partition, but kept the backup one, you can rest assured you’ll have all of your bloatware back with you after a re-install. It’s not a useless CD, however, because it can also install a pristine Windows when the back-up partition isn’t available. Just be sure to copy the C:SwSetups folder to a DVD if you plan on going down that road, as it contains all the drivers you’ll need to use your computer.
When I was trying to install Windows XP x64, I tried contacting HP customer services to get the proper chipset drivers. Although I got a reply to my inquiry within 10 minutes, the support agent presumed me to have no knowledge of my situation and gave me only elementary, irrelevant advice at first. It took a couple e-mails before the agent finally understood my situation and told me that no drivers were available.
The notebook also came with a handful of extras that, although not part of my buying mindset, made the deal go that much smoother.
Attached to the top of the dv2000’s screen is a small, 1.3 MP webcam. You can see the kind of quality images it produces below. I presume this to be typical of webcams, and it is no substitute for an actual camera. I personally never had any use for them, but HP offers no option to rid of it, so it’s there nonetheless.
Web cam shot (view large image)
This feature actually has some potential value to it. QuickPlay has two aspects to it. The first makes it just another DVD player, albeit not a bad one. More importantly, QuickPlay offers the option of watching movies, looking at pictures, or listening to music without booting into Windows. Although it only looks into the “Shared” folders on the Windows partition for each respective media, it does save valuable batter energy when all you want to do is just watch a movie without having all the other processes running.
You do have to pay for it, but an applicable rebate should pay you back for it. In the end, you get a free printer/copier/scanner. From the tests I’ve done, it does all these functions well, and although it’s an inkjet, it can print as fast as my current laser one.
The dv2000z, then, manages to fare well in each of the three main laptop standards, but accomplishes this only by making appropriate sacrifices. The comparatively cheap $1400 price mark offers many of the features you’d see on an $1800 machine but at the expense of several subsidiary factors like a perfect screen, a powerful video card, or a strong battery. Personally, I find the trade-offs worthwhile.
- Relatively inexpensive
- Generally powerful
- Nice-looking, widescreen screen
- Stylish, low-weight, cool design
- Clean-sounding speakers
- Free printer (and webcam)
- Shoddy battery
- Bad software package and lacking support for 64-bit computing
- Minor light leakage at the bottom
- Too much glare and reflection in some environments
- Weak video card