HP Pavilion zt3000 review: HP Pavilion zt3000

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The Good Wide-aspect, 15.4-inch screen; firm, comfortable keyboard; lots of useful buttons, ports, and slots; includes built-in 54g wireless networking.

The Bad No onsite service option.

The Bottom Line Families in need of an all-around notebook for parents and kids should consider the Pavilion zt3000.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 7
  • Support 7

Review summary

HP puts a slick spin on its new Pavilion zt3000 notebook, with cool blue and green status lights and bright silver accents. But this thin-and-light offers more than a pretty face. It packs plenty of useful features, including a big, 15.4-inch screen and built-in 54g (802.11g at 54Mbps) wireless. The Pavilion zt3000 doesn't match its sweet specs with top-rung performance, but it does provide enough power for its target audience, home users and small businesses. If you're one of the above, you'll find the Pavilion zt3000 a solid laptop for basic tasks. If you need a multimedia powerhouse, look to the HP Pavilion zd7000 instead.

The Pavilion zt3000 is the home version of HP's business notebook, the Compaq nx7000. Both laptops come in the same thin-and-light case, measuring 1.3 by 10 by 14 inches and weighing 6.5 pounds--a standard weight for a notebook with a 15.4-inch screen. The two notebooks also feature some identical design elements, such as a big, comfortable keyboard flanked by two rich-sounding speakers. Three handy buttons--volume up, volume down, and mute--sit atop the right speaker; a tiny red light alerts you when mute is off.

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The touchpad includes a section on the right for scrolling.
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The big keyboard is crisp and firm.

Both HP notebooks include the same awesome touchpad design: A line conveniently cordons off the right side of the pad, showing you where to place your finger for scrolling. A button above the pad turns it on and off, preventing you from sending your cursor flying by accidentally hitting the pad while typing.

The Pavilion zt3000 offers the same complete selection of bays, ports, and slots as the Compaq nx7000. The left edge sports one PC Card slot plus an internal, fixed bay for secondary storage drives. The opposite edge includes an IrDA port, while the back edge features ports for S-Video out, parallel, Ethernet, 56K modem, and VGA and three USB 2.0 ports. Green system status lights line the front edge, along with headphone and microphone ports, a Secure Digital card slot, and a wireless on/off button with a futuristic blue light in its center.

Whether you're a computing neophyte or an old pro, HP makes it easy to buy the Pavilion zt3000. You can go with a preconfigured model, or you can do the picking and choosing yourself.

If you choose to configure it, HP offers many ways to pack the notebook with cutting-edge features. The system's Pentium M processor is available in speeds ranging from 1.4 to 1.7GHz. Main DDR memory comes in increments from 256MB to 2GHz. The ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics chip offers 32MB or 64MB of dedicated video RAM. Hard drives spin at 4,200rpm and go from 30 to 80GB; to get a little more speed out of your notebook, HP offers a 60GB drive spinning at 5,400rpm. The fixed bay supports a CD, DVD, DVD/CD-RW, or DVD+RW drive. Wireless choices consist of Intel's Pro Wireless 2100 802.11b mini-PCI card or Broadcom's cutting-edge &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2E54g%2Eorg%2F" target="_blank">54g card. The 15.4-inch display ships with two native resolutions: 1,280x800 and 1,680x1,050. While the latter allows for finer image detail, it also makes the text extremely tiny.

The notebook's software bundle includes some useful applications for everything from office productivity to multimedia tasks. Windows' XP Home and XP Professional are available as operating systems; Pro costs $75 extra. HP throws Microsoft Works and Microsoft Money 2003 in, too, but you can also buy more-expensive options such as Office 2003 Small Business Edition for up to $250. Other highlights include InterVideo WinDVD for DVD viewing, Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator 6.0 for CDs and DVD burning, and Quicken New User Edition 2003 for personal finance tracking.

The Pavilion zt3000 came in first place in mobile performance in this small test group. This system has the advantage of sporting the fastest processor in the group, with its Pentium M 1.7GHz. Unfortunately, it also has a relatively slow 4,200rpm hard drive. This may be why the Dell Inspiron 600M was able to score only a point below with its slower Pentium M 1.6GHz processor: it has a faster 5,400rpm hard drive. Beyond basic specs however, mobile performance can be determined by how much each system throttles its processor speed down in order to save on battery life. This may explain why the WinBook C series came in a close third even with its slower 1.4GHz processor and 4,200rpm hard drive, as both the Pavilion zt3000 and the Dell Inspiron 600M throttle their performance down to the WinBook C series' level. The HP still achieves good performance when running office and content-creation apps in an unplugged state, though with a faster hard drive, the performance could have been much better.

BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Mobile application performance  
HP Pavilion zt3000
Dell Inspiron 600M
WinBook C series

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 600M
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion zt3000
Windows XP Home; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2080AT 80GB 4,200rpm

WinBook C series
Windows XP Professional; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 855GM (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 4,200rpm

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