Hypersonic Aviator ZX7 review: Hypersonic Aviator ZX7

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.6
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Battery life: 6.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Very fast; 17-inch display; video camera; four speakers plus subwoofer; available in six colors.

The Bad Large and heavy; huge AC adapter; short battery life; one-year warranty; runs hot; expensive.

The Bottom Line The Aviator ZX7 offers all the speed and features you could dream of--in a huge, heavy case and for a very high price.

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Review summary

Hypersonic's Aviator ZX7 flies at rarefied altitudes. It packs in the finest and fastest components available, including a 3.06GHz desktop processor, 1GB of fast memory, a 7,200rpm hard drive, a sharp 17-inch screen, and the hottest graphics available. This first-class system also comes with a built-in video camera and a five-speaker sound system. But don't ask how much it costs; the Aviator ZX7 is priced more like a seat on the Concorde than a desktop replacement. The notebook is also Concorde-like in its bulk (9.2 pounds) and its lousy mileage: 96 minutes on battery power. Check out the similarly equipped Toshiba Satellite P25 for a cheaper (but even heavier) ride.

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We like the big keyboard and the fully functional number keypad.

The Hypersonic Aviator ZX7 stretches the definition of mobility a tad. It measures a reasonable 1.7 inches thick, but it's definitely a wide-body at 15.4 inches wide by 10.8 inches deep. Alone, it weighs a groan-inducing 9.2 pounds; add its gargantuan AC adapter, and the system's travel weight rises to 10.7 pounds. The Toshiba Satellite P25 is similarly sized, but it weighs several ounces more than the Aviator ZX7.

Although the brushed-aluminum accents give the silver-and-black notebook a sleek and futuristic look, the 17-inch screen steals the spotlight. With a 1,440x900 native resolution, its aspect ratio lies somewhere between that of a traditional screen (4:3) and a DVD movie (16:9). Powered by a state-of-the-art ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics accelerator with 64MB of memory, the Aviator ZX7 excels at rendering smooth motion on movies and exceptional detail on games.


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The touchpad features a handy scroll switch for viewing Web pages quickly. The system has a color Webcam built into the top of the lid.

The large case makes room for more than the usual input devices. A full-size keyboard comes with a dedicated numeric keypad. The keys are big and comfortable to type on. A touchpad with recessed mouse buttons and a handy scroll switch lie just below the keyboard. An inconspicuous hole at the top of the lid houses the lens for a video camera. It has trouble keeping up with rapid movement, imparts an orange cast to its video, and has a low 320x240-pixel resolution, but it works well for videoconferencing applications.

Like other desktop replacements with fast desktop processors, the Aviator ZX7 has trouble keeping its cool. Even with three fans, the system has an annoying hot spot just above the touchpad.
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Hypersonic offers a choice between a DVD/CD-RW combo drive and a DVD-R/-RW burner.

The Aviator ZX7 can fit an incredible assortment of components into its large chassis. An economy-class model starts at $2,150 and comes with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 CPU, a 40GB hard drive, 512MB of RAM, and a reasonably fast DVD/CD-RW combo drive. Our first-class test system cost $3,200 and came with just about every option imaginable, except for a DVD-R/-RW burner, which costs $148. All told, the Aviator ZX7 soars higher than the less-expensive Toshiba Satellite P25. For the fashion conscious, the company also offers Aviators with paint jobs in a variety of colors for an extra $249.

When configuring the Aviator ZX7, you'll have to choose between a six-in-one Flash-media card reader (Secure Digital, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, CompactFlash Type I and II, IBM Microdrive, and MultiMediaCard) and a subwoofer that occupies the same space for $40 less. Regardless of which you select, the Aviator comes with a four-way speaker system and a Realtek audio chip that together pump out loud and rich audio.

In addition to older parallel, serial, and PS/2 ports, connectivity includes three USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire port, as well as VGA and S-Video. The notebook also features Ethernet, an IrDA port, and a 56Kbps modem. A wireless On/Off switch sits next to the audio plugs (microphone, headphone, and optical S/PDIF output) on the notebook's front edge.

Hypersonic provides a software smorgasbord with the Aviator ZX7. In addition to Microsoft Windows XP Home, XP Professional, or 2000 as the operating system, you can also order staples, such as Norton AntiVirus 2003 with a one-year update subscription ($29), Microsoft Office XP Small Business Edition for $200, or Professional for $340. Hypersonic offers several games (Extreme Action, Grand Theft Auto III, Unreal 2, and Warcraft III) for less than $45 each.
Mobile application performance
The Hypersonic Aviator ZX7 boasts great mobile performance. Even in an unplugged state, office and multimedia apps pose no threat to this system. It finished a few points behind the Alienware Area 51m but nearly 30 points ahead of the Eurocom Impressa D470W. Although all three systems house a 3.06GHz desktop Pentium 4 processor, both the Hypersonic Aviator ZX7 and the Alienware Area 51m throttle the CPU only a relatively small degree. The Impressa D470W, on the other hand, throttles its CPU more to conserve battery power.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating  
Alienware Area 51m
184 
Hypersonic Aviator ZX7
180 
Eurocom Impressa D470W
152 

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

SysMark2002 performance
The Aviator ZX7 is the fastest desktop replacement we've tested in maximum performance. What gives the system this lofty title? The superfast 7,200rpm hard drive helps the Aviator ZX7 beat the Impressa D470W and the Area 51m by more than 34 points in overall score. Because each system uses the same amount of RAM, the same speed processor, and identical graphics adapters, the performance gap comes down to the Aviator ZX7's faster hard drive.


Maximum application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating  
SysMark2002 Internet content creation  
SysMark2002 office productivity  
Hypersonic Aviator ZX7
279 
402 
194 
Eurocom Impressa D470W
244 
364 
164 
Alienware Area 51m
241 
375 
155 

To measure maximum notebook application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).

3D graphics performance
The Aviator ZX7 barely holds on to second place in 3D performance tests. It beat the Impressa D470W by a few points but scored more than 600 points behind the Area 51m. Still, the system's excellent 3D performance score should satiate all but the most jaded gamers.


3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE  
Alienware Area 51m
7,502 
Hypersonic Aviator ZX7
6,886 
Eurocom D470W
6,807 

To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE. We use 3DMark to measure desktop replacement notebook performance with the DirectX 8.1 interface at the 32-bit color setting at a resolution of 1,024x768.

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Alienware Area 51m
Windows XP Professional; 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4; 1024MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

Eurocom Impressa D470W
Windows XP Professional; 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4; 1024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Fujitsu MHS2030AT 30GB 4,200rpm

Hypersonic Aviator ZX7
Windows XP Professional; 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4; 1024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Hitachi 7k60 60GB 7,200rpm
Luckily for the Aviator ZX7, desktop replacements can get away with shorter battery life. With its 14.8V, 4,400mAh (65WHr) battery, the Aviator ZX7 lasted just 96 minutes. The Eurocom Impressa D470W houses a battery with the same specs, but it managed to last 12 minutes longer because it throttled its processor. The Alienware Area 51m uses two batteries--a 14.3V, 3,400mAh (50WHr) battery and a 14.8V, 4,000mAh (59WHr) battery--to achieve its comparatively long battery life.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life in minutes  
Alienware Area 51m
127 
Eurocom Impressa D470W
108 
Hypersonic Aviator ZX7
96 

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Alienware Area 51m
Windows XP Professional; 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4; 1024MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

Eurocom Impressa D470W
Windows XP Professional; 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4; 1024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Fujitsu MHS2030AT 30GB 4,200rpm

Hypersonic Aviator ZX7
Windows XP Professional; 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4; 1024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Hitachi 7k60 60GB 7,200rpm
The Aviator ZX7 comes with a one-year warranty, which is short but typical these days for a consumer notebook. An extension to three years costs $290, which seems like money well spent for such a large and complicated system.

Like its peers, the Aviator ZX7 comes with 24/7, toll-free phone support. You can take $34 off of the system price in exchange for business-hours-only support, but that's a corner we'd rather not cut. Online, Hypersonic has a file transfer protocol (FTP) site filled with downloads. You can also find helpful instructions on how to use the recovery CD and load new video, network, or sound drivers.

To find out more about how this product's warranty really stacks up and what you should look for in terms of service and support, take a look at CNET's hardware warranty explainer.

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Where to Buy

Hypersonic Aviator ZX7

Part Number: CNETHYPERSONICAVIATORZX7 Released: May 6, 2003
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May 6, 2003
  • Resolution 1440 x 900 ( WXGA+ )
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • Weight 9 lbs
  • Optical Drive CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo - removable
  • Graphics Processor AGP 8x - ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 PRO - 128 MB DDR SGRAM
  • CPU Intel Pentium 4 3.2 GHz