HP Pavilion zd8000
Overview and Introduction | Reasons For Buying:
After hours of research I came to the conclusion that instead of purchasing the Acer Ferrari 3400 I would instead order a customized HP zd8000. Several weeks before my purchase a co-worker and one of my best friends had bought the zd8080, which is the high end version of the zd8000. But I decided to go another route by getting a customized version of the zd8000 because this offered me two bonuses: I could get more for the same price as the zd8080 and I could select what I wanted and didn’t want such as getting XP Home instead of Windows Media Center. The downfall of doing this was having an almost three week wait before my customized zd8000 arrived.
Where and How Purchased:
In my research I also found that the HP customer service left much to be desired, but I still wanted to buy a 3 year warranty for this notebook. My solution for this issue was to order my customized laptop through a retailer (Best Buy) thus allowing me to buy the Best Buy 3-year service plan and not HP’s. The price Best Buy wanted to charge me was higher than the price I could get at hpshopping.com, but since Best Buy has a price match policy they honored matching the online price. At the end of the day I paid as much as my friend did for his zd8080, which was $2500, and received more. Below is what I ordered and how it compares to the zd8080.
HP zd8000 Specs (and comparison to pre-configured zd8080)
- HP zd8000 Customized + $50 mail in rebate by HP
- 3.4GHz Intel Pentium 4 650 w/Hyper Thread Technology
- 100GB 5400RPM Hard Drive (Compared to 100GB 4200RPM Hard Drive)
- 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, 533Mhz (Compared to 400Mhz)
- 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X600
- 17′ WSXGA+ Brightview Wide View Screen 1680×1050 (Compared to WXGA+ 1440×900)
- Free Upgrade DVD+/-RW/R CD-RW Combo w/Double Layer (Compared to no double layer)
- Windows XP Home (Compared to Windows Media Center)
- 56k Modem with 10/100 Ethernet LAN (Compared to 802.11g and Bluetooth)
Form and Design
When you first see the laptop you will notice that it is very big and beautiful and is quite obviously meant as a desktop replacement. Those who travel often may want to rethink getting the zd8000 since it weighs in at over 10lbs and is very big with its 17″ screen. I have seen a lot of people complaining about the weight and forgetting that it is a desktop replacement. The top cover of the laptop when closed is silver with an HP logo in the middle, when you open it up most of the laptop is black with parts of silver and is complimented with dark blue neon lights.
When you first using this laptop you will notice that the keypad is the same as that of a regular desktop computer. But even though it appears exactly the same as a desktop keyboard I found that when first using this keyboard I would always hit the “Caps Lock” key instead of the “A” key — so the key layout and orientation might be slightly different from a regular old desktop keyboard. After several hours I got used to this though. The rest of the keyboard and buttons feel as they should, no problems mistyping with any other keys. One nice extra feature is an included hardware button to turn off your touchpad. Turning off your touchpad is useful when you are using a mouse or playing a game. Speaking of the touchpad, one problem I found was to the right of the touch area the laptop would get very warm — sometimes making it uncomfortable to type for long periods of time. Thus having a cooling pad to draw heat from the notebook really helps.
A picture of the Antec laptop cooler I purchased for cooling the zd8000
Be warned this laptop gets hot! Do not keep it on your lap because it can really get uncomfortable. Right when I picked up my laptop I purchased a laptop cooling pad to make sure nothing overheated. I recommend this to any zd8000 user or owner. The one I purchased was the Antec Laptop Cooling pad which sells at CompUSA for $40. When I purchased it there was a $10 mail in rebate thus making it only $30. The only other one I was able to find selling at Best Buy, CompUSA, or Fry’s was the Targus ChillHub for $50 and I have read numerous reviews stating it breaks easily and often. With the use of this cooling pad the laptop remained very cool, even after numerous hours of playing Half Life 2!
The screen is huge. It’s a 17″ wide screen LCD with WSXGA+ resolution and Brightview (glossy finish screen). With a max resolution of 1680×1050 the picture is crisp and clear. I was very pleased to find no dead pixels on my units display. Half Life 2 looks incredible running in widescreen at 1680×1050, but the regular Windows text does seem a little small and did begin to hurt my eyes after using the laptop hours on end. To combat this problem I just increase the default font size in display settings or switch into a lower resolution and deal with the fact the picture is not so crisp at this non-native resolution.
The built-in speakers are Harman Kardon Sound Blaster Pro compatible stereo speakers and, although they sound crisp and clear, I personally feel that they don’t go loud enough. For instance, if you sit a way back while watching a DVD you might struggle to hear the audio a bit. Those who like their sound blazing with tons of bass will need to look into buying a third party speaker and subwoofer setup. Because I also use headphones most of the time this didnt affect me as much. When using headphones and playing Half Life 2 I can attest that via the headphones I was provided with more volume then I needed.
Video and Gaming Graphics Performance:
With the setup I got and the 256MB ATI Radeon Mobility X600 I was confident I would be able to run any game I wanted. Thus I ran a gaming test. I used Half Life 2 and ran it for numerous hours a day. Below are the summaries of how the game performed on the system and what specs I had or what the game recommended for my computer:
- Game: Half Life 2
- Screen Settings: Running In Widescreen 1680×1050
- Game Graphics Detail Level Setting: Everything was on High details expect water which was on medium
- Anti-Aliasing Setting: Anti-Aliasing was recommended OFF however I kept mine at either x2 or mostly x4
- Vertical Sync: Vertical Sync was turned off (recommended)
The game ran smoothly and the graphics were very beautiful running on the zd8000. Environments were full of color and were crisp and clear, character’s faces were as realistic as possible! The only problem I have had is when I keep the anti-aliasing setting on x4 I noticed a very small loss of Frames Per Second (FPS) compared to if I have the game anti-aliasing set on x2 or off. However, I still preferred to keep anti-aliasing on x4 due to the fact it increased the visual aspect of the game.
Input and Output Ports:
HP zd8000 front side
HP zd8000 left side
The zd8000 does a really nice job of offering tons of input and output ports. Below are some of the included ports and options:
- 1 ExpressCard/54 Slot and 1 Type I/II 32-bit card bus
- 6 in 1 digital media card slot
- 1 IEEE-1394 Firewire
- 4 Universal Serial Bus USB 2.0 ports
- Integrated Consumer IR Infrared
- 1 TV-Out S-video
- 1 RJ-11 Modem
- 1 Expansion Port 2 Connector
- 1 RJ -45 LAN
- Optional HP mobile remote
HP zd8000 back side
HP zd8000 right side
A problem I have with HP computers is that there is always tons of bundled software shipped with your new computer. If you decide you don’t want some of the software that’s included you’ll have to go to the Windows “add or remove software” program found in the control panel, this will take some time since there is so much software to get rid of (assuming you don’t want most of it, which often times you won’t).
Another downfall for those who will be travelling with this laptop is it has a very short battery life. Because I keep my zd8000 at home I plug it into the wall for most of the time. When running on just battery you will be lucky if it lasts even two hours. Although this may is a pain if you decide to take it anywhere, it was (once again as I keep saying) meant as a desktop replacement, so no complaining!
While customizing my zd8000 I decided I would go with the low end 56k modem + 10/100 Ethernet LAN because I do not have broadband or wireless in my home and I mostly play offline games. So since I have no built-in wireless card in my notebook this is one of the departments in which the zd8080 is better because it offers 802.11g and bluetooth wireless.
I have heard a couple of people stating that the fans are loud on the zd8000. Personally I find that they are relatively quiet. You will find three fans on the bottom of the laptop and numerous air slot openings on each of the sides. Since I’m running a laptop cooler to keep the notebook cool and the fans don’t run as much because of this, I might be less bothered by the noise when the fans do kick in!
Here is a link to the full set of professional media images for the zd8000 notebook: click to view entire image gallery of HP zd8000 (27 images)
My conclusion regarding the HP zd8000 is quite simple: it’s a very good laptop and desktop replacement computer at a good price. But know what you’re buying, this is not a mobile laptop that a travelling business professional should buy. Instead, if you will be using this notebook at home and enjoy a large screen for surfing the web, watching DVDs or playing games then I think this should be a notebook you consider. You can use HPShopping.com to configure the zd8000 to your specific likes, or walk into a retail store and get a preconfigured version such as the zd8080 so you don’t have to wait for shipping.
- Huge 17″ WSXGA+ Brightview Wide View Screen
- Strong ATI X600 Graphics Card – Half Life 2 Is The Best In 1680×1050 On High Settings
- Very Powerful Specs At a good price
- Tons Of Input And Output Ports
- Crisp and clear speaker
- Keyboard like that of a regular desktop keyboard
- Short battery life (2 hours or less)
- Gets very hot if not on a good laptop cooler
- Speakers could have been louder
- 3 week wait for custom built zd8000
Pricing and Availability: