The HP Compaq Presario V3000 inaugurates a new look and feel for HP's Presario line of laptops. Departing from the familiar silvery design of previous Presario models, the V3000 is dark gray (and subtly pinstriped), with a high-gloss finish that HP says is particularly scratch resistant. Looks aside, however, the Presario V3000 sticks to the same basic script as previous Presario models (including the V2000 that it will replace): you get a strong set of components and most of the features that a basic home user will want for a competitive price (it starts at $950). HP has upped the ante with the V3000's processor options, however: you can configure it with either an Intel Core Solo or Core Duo or, when it debuts, AMD's dual-core processor. If you're looking for a slightly stronger set of multimedia features for a similar price, check out the Dell Inspiron E1405, which starts at $700 (we haven't tested the E1405 yet, but we have reviewed the very similar XPS M140).
Measuring slightly more than 13 inches wide, 9.5 inches deep, and just shy of 1.5 inches thick, and weighing in at 5.5 pounds (6.3 pounds with its compact AC adapter), the thin-and-light Presario V3000 is portable enough for regular travel and is one of the more compact models in HP's portfolio. Competitive models with 14.1-inch wide-screen displays, such as the Inspiron E1405, the ThinkPad z60t, and the VAIO FJ, are roughly the same size and weight.
The Presario V3000's keyboard has relatively large keys that are comfortable enough to type on for extended periods, though the ThinkPad Z60t's keyboard, which is a bit less jammed together, remains our favorite in this class. The Presario V3000's touch pad and mouse buttons are sizable, but the glossy touch pad felt a bit slippery for our taste. That said, we appreciate the touch pad's vertical and horizontal scrolling functionality, and we approve of the Presario V3000's touch pad on/off button, which eliminates rogue cursor movement when working with an external mouse. The Altec Lansing stereo speakers, located above the keyboard, deliver audio that's moderately loud and of decent quality, though lacking on the low end; unfortunately, the sound becomes hopelessly muffled when you close the laptop lid. The Inpsiron E1405, whose speakers sit along its front edge, delivers superior audio whether its lid is open or closed. While we like the Presario V3000's new light-touch multimedia controls, which offer audible feedback similar to the iPod's clickwheel, we prefer the Inspiron E1405's more complete set of controls, which, again, are conveniently placed along the front edge for closed-lid access.
Our Presario V3000 test unit had a 14.1-inch wide-screen display with a standard 1,280x800 native resolution. Configured with HP's BrightView technology, which is just a glossy coating that overlays the display, the Presario V3000 delivered acceptable video quality; while the screen was considerably brighter than the ThinkPad Z60t's, the picture wasn't as crisp as we would have liked.