by Amber H., Iowa USA
HP is well known for their wide range of laptops that offer good price to feature ratios. I purchased the HP ZE4800 three months ago and can say that I absolutely love it. As with any laptop, there are of course short falls. After all, since money does not grow on trees, we all have to give and take when finding the right laptop for your needs. As a student, I needed a cheaper priced laptop and that is what lead me to HP. HP is one of the few notebook makers that use AMD mobile chips allowing for more bang for the buck in my opinion. I am not a gamer, so there was no need for a high end graphics card containing system. Wireless was a big factor for me though, so I went with an internal wireless b/g card. I bought this laptop at Staples for $899
I went for the 14-inch XGA screen. The resolution is 1024×768 and looks good. I do wish that this notebook had a slightly larger screen, but for the price I paid I cannot argue. The screen has no glare and good color, but could certainly be a little sharper with text.
Sound and Speakers
The speakers are also quite good for a laptop; the sound is crisp and clear. Notice the quick launch buttons above the keyboard. These buttons come in handy and I use them all the time. One thing I like is the mute and volume buttons on the side. These are placed well and work great when you need to quickly mute sound.
Size and Comfort and Strength
This laptop is not a thin unit and looks more like a desktop replacement really. Although the laptop does look large, it is fairly light. At about 6.5 pounds with battery, it’s not too heavy for every day mobile use. You won’t break your back carrying it, but you wouldn’t want to lug it for miles either.
The laptop itself is well built. It feels sturdy enough and does not act like it’s going to break every time you open the LCD too fast or anything ridiculous like that.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is average for a laptop, nothing wrong and nothing great either. It is full sized and the layout is standard, so those used to using a desktop computer keyboard should find this layout easy to move to.
The touchpad works well, or at least as advertised. One great feature is having a little button above the touchpad that enables you to push it in to turn off the use of the touchpad. Turning off the touchpad comes in handy when typing so your hand doesn’t move across the touchpad all the time causing the cursor to jump and your typing to be entered in the wrong place! As a student who has to do a lot of typing on this keyboard, such a feature is a major plus.
The mobile AMD chip speeds things up nicely for everyday items. It moves along seamlessly for web surfing and daily office use. If you want games, don’t look here. Also don’t expect to be doing much video or audio editing with the slow 4200RPM hard drive.
Battery life performance could be better too. With normal use I get less than 3 hours of life out of the battery. If you do little work and optimize power settings such as dimming the screen all the way then you might be lucky enough to get 3 hours.
Other Views/ Port Info
Here you can see (from left to right) the two USB ports, LAN/Ethernet port, S-Video, Parallel port, Serial port, and lastly the VGA port. For a modern notebook, I see it as a waste to have a parallel and serial port as these “legacy” ports are hardly used by devices you buy these days — a majority of people will simply never use these ports. I would have much rather had more USB ports than antiquated hardware that takes up space on the back of the notebook.
Below you can see the integrated 56k modem on the left, followed by two PCMCIIA card slots and then the audio controls as discussed earlier. The PCMCIA ports can be used for accessory expansion such as a wireless card (if you don’t have an internal one), GPS device, FireWire adapter, AirCard modem from Sierra Wireless, and many other options!
I don’t use the DVD ROM much, but in using it to play such things as movies I’ve experienced no problems with it and so I can say it works as advertised. The CDRW aspect of this media drive works fine as well, so rip and burn at will! I will say the optical drive is slightly loud at times, especially so when burning.
Below you can see the DVD drive right next to the mouse PS2 port. Again, a PS2 port, is it really needed? HP really went all out with the old legacy ports on this notebook, any mouse you buy these days will use USB connectivity or wireless/Bluetooth.
The wireless reception could be much batter. I find it hard at times to connect on campus where I see other students surfing away. I am not sure if it is a bad antenna inside the notebook or the wireless card itself, whatever the case, this is definitely an aspect of the notebook that could be improved. The wireless card is not an Intel and certainly not a brand name, so it’s likely a cheap component and that’s the crux of the problem. One nice feature is that on the front of the notebook, there is a little button to disable the wireless card. This is nice as most notebooks have a keyboard command or function button on the keyboard to perform such an action.
This is not the most modern laptop, it does not have the latest bells and whistles and it is not the sleekest and slimmest laptop on the block. But again, price as a student was the main factor for me. The 14-inch screen works well and is adequate, but a wide screen HP such as the DV1000 or ZT3000 would be so much nicer. The wireless card works, but there is plenty of room for improvement. The battery life at just less than 3 hours is fine, but compared to newer Intel laptops, is not very good.
Other than these downfalls, the laptop is stable, sturdy, and built quite well. I have not encountered any problems and am overall pleased with my HP unit. If I had to do it all over again, I would get something with a larger screen. But if you are looking for great laptops at a reasonable price, look to HP. I hope this review will assist those looking for a laptop.
Pricing and Availability