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HP Pavilion ze5270 review: HP Pavilion ze5270

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The Good Many top components; attractive case; good speakers and keyboard.

The Bad Slow; big and heavy; short battery life.

The Bottom Line This well-made mainstream notebook includes many top components but sacrifices performance and battery life. Turn to it only as a low-cost alternative.

Visit for details.

6.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 5
  • Battery 5
  • Support 8

Review Sections

Look up mainstream notebook in a tech dictionary, and you just might find a picture of Hewlett Packard's Pavilion ze5000 series. The big dog in this series features top components, such as a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 desktop processor, a 15-inch screen, and a 60GB hard drive--generous specs for those on a tight budget. HP's main focus with the Pavilion ze5000 is keeping the price low, but unfortunately the series comes up short on performance and battery life. Nonetheless, this notebook will surprise you with many high-end components, a great keyboard, and an attractive case. If price is your major criterion, consider the ze5000 series.



A section of the large touchpad can be used for scrolling.
The Pavilion ze5000 series is an update to the long-in-the-tooth OmniBook xe4500, and it proves the adage that you can't change a leopard's spots. When we reviewed the OmniBook xe4500, we liked the system's all-in-one approach and decent price, but we were turned off by its ho-hum performance. Nearly a year later and now carrying the Pavilion ze5000-series nameplate, the notebook has a much faster processor and a bigger hard drive. Unfortunately, it still can't keep up with comparable systems on performance and battery life.

The ze5000 notebook for the home or a dorm room squeezes a lot into its 1.8-by-12.9-by-10.7-inch frame. The big case, however, adds up to about eight pounds--more weight than many mainstream notebooks. The power adapter adds 13 ounces, making for a travel weight of nearly nine pounds, which is heavier than IBM's ThinkPad R40 or Dell's Inspiron 5100.

Despite its girth, the Pavilion ze5000's demure purple-and-silver case is a beauty. One of our few qualms with this design is the 15-inch XGA display. While it looked bright and sharp in our tests, it lags behind the best in terms of resolution. And the ATI Mobility Radeon IGP 345M graphics accelerator, which borrows from system memory, doesn't measure up to the ATI Radeon 7500, with 32MB of its own memory, that both the ThinkPad R40 and the Inspiron 5100 sport. When you buy from HP.com, you can upgrade the screen to SXGA; this costs a mere $50 and is money well spent. But you can't upgrade the graphics accelerator.

Typing is no problem with the Pavilion ze5000's firm and quiet keyboard. With 19.2mm keys and 2.3mm of depth, it's as close to a desktop unit as you're likely to see on the road. The five application-launch buttons above the keyboard are a nice touch, particularly the TV Now button, which instantly sets up the notebook to show its screen on a TV set via the S-Video plug. The large and smooth touchpad has a scroll zone, which is a section of the touchpad used for scrolling through documents or Web pages. (There's no pointing-stick option on the Pavilion ze5000 series.)




The quick-launch buttons reside above the keyboard.


The keyboard is firm and quiet.


The Altec Lansing speakers are another point in the Pavilion's favor. Although the sound lacks the strong bass of Toshiba's Satellite 5205-S503 subwoofer, this notebook nevertheless pumps out the decibels without distortion. We do wish, however, that the notebook had audio CD controls on the outside edge, which you'll find on many systems of this class.

While it may seem unexciting, the Pavilion ze5000 series makes all the right connections. It has all of the ports you'll need on the road or at home, including three USB 2.0 slots, with one conveniently (for righties, that is) placed on the right side and a pair in the back. In addition to S-Video and external-monitor connectors, the system has modem and LAN plugs, as well as parallel, serial, and PS/2 ports. It also has one Type II PC Card slot. Built-in 802.11b (Wi-Fi) wireless networking, which includes a handy On/Off switch, is also a nice touch.




The Pavilion ze5000 series features a fixed floppy drive.
A state-of-the-art ultraportable it's not, but the Pavilion ze5000 series is mostly up-to-date. When buying from HP.com, you'll find a range of available processors, from an entry-level 2GHz Celeron all the way up to a fast 2.8GHz Pentium 4. You can further customize the system with a hard drive that's between 30GB and 80GB, although none of the hard drives offered are high-performance, 5,200rpm models, which might have broken the system out of its performance malaise. The system can hold up to 1GB of memory.

Our test system came well equipped, with a fast 2.8GHz desktop Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive. The DVD/CD-RW combo drive offers the flexibility of watching movies or burning CDs, and the system also has a fixed floppy drive.

In addition to the Windows XP Home operating system (you can upgrade to Windows XP Pro for $75), the Pavilion ze5000 series has a wide array of software. The system comes with Corel's Productivity Pack, including WordPerfect 10.0 and Quattro Pro 10.0, for those who need to get right down to work, as well as with InterVideo WinDVD 4.0, for watching DVD movies, and an assortment of WildTangent games for those who'd rather play.


The Pavilion ze5000 has many top components, including a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor, but its performance is more than disappointing. Unfortunately, the system uses a shared-memory architecture, which can be the kiss of death performancewise. The ATI Radeon IGP 345M graphics adapter borrows 64MB of RAM from the main system memory. Thus, two competing notebooks from Dell and IBM crushed the Pavilion ze5000 in CNET Labs' tests. If you're looking for speed in a mainstream notebook, skip this Pavilion.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating  
Dell Inspiron 5100
166 
IBM ThinkPad R40
131 
HP Pavilion ze5200
95 
 
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:

Dell Inspiron 5100
Windows XP Professional; 2.53GHz Intel Pentium 4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion ze5200
Windows XP Professional; 2.8GHz Intel Pentium 4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Radeon IGP 345M 64MB; Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

IBM ThinkPad R40
Windows XP Professional; 2.2GHz Intel Pentium 4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Hitachi DK23EA-60B 60GB 4,200rpm


The HP Pavilion ze5000 disappoints in the battery-life area, lasting slightly more than two hours. Its 14.8V, 4,400mAh battery did not have the juice to offset the speed of its 2.8GHz Pentium 4 desktop processor, which draws a lot of power from the battery. Dell's Inspiron 5100 hit the 205-minute mark, beating all others in this test group. The Dell uses a huge, 14.8V, 6,450mAh battery that compensates for its 2.53GHz Pentium 4 processor. With the Pavilion ze5000 series' lackluster battery life, you'll want to keep these notebooks plugged in as much as possible.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life (in minutes)  
Dell Inspiron 5100
205 
IBM ThinkPad R40
198 
HP Pavilion ze5200
126 
 
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).

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 5100
Windows XP Professional; 2.53GHz Intel Pentium 4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion ze5200
Windows XP Professional; 2.8GHz Intel Pentium 4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Radeon IGP 345M 64MB; Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

IBM ThinkPad R40
Windows XP Professional; 2.2GHz Intel Pentium 4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Hitachi DK23EA-60B 60GB 4,200rpm


With a one-year warranty, the Pavilion ze5000 series matches the competition on coverage, but we recommend upgrading to a three-year plan, which costs $179. Renowned for its support, HP offers help wherever you're likely to be traveling. We also appreciate HP's support Web site, which provides a quick route to downloads for this specific model and an interactive application for finding the closest repair station should disaster strike. The service includes toll-free, 24/7 hotline for on-the-road nightmares.

The Web site also contains a helpful installation guide and a variety of troubleshooting assistance. There's even information on moving data from one machine to another, and there are extensive chat rooms to share experiences and fixes. The hard-copy setup manual is also comprehensive and easy to follow.

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