capsule review

ABS Zensation Z3

At a Glance
  • ABS Zensation Z3

ABS Zensation Z3
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

If you need lots of USB ports for connecting peripherals to your notebook, the ABS Zensation Z3 sports four, two more than most notebooks typically have. Equipped with a 1.6-GHz/600-MHz Pentium M processor, it's also one of the fastest portables we've tested to date, earning an impressive PC WorldBench 4 score of 126. Battery life is good, too: almost 4 hours in our tests.

The Zensation has most of the important notebook connections; missing is a TV-out port, a key feature if you plan on attaching a TV or other large monitor to your laptop. A proprietary connection on the back of the notebook accepts the ABS PortBar, a docking station that replicates the USB, monitor, LAN, and parallel ports.

Though the Zensation comes with a multipurpose bay, the choice of optional devices is extremely limited. A removable DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive is standard, and the only other bay option ABS currently sells is a secondary battery.

Both the hard drive and the memory are user upgradable. In fact, the notebook comes with a whopping 512MB on the motherboard, leaving a RAM slot free. At 60GB, the hard drive is significantly larger than the 40GB drives we see in most portables.

Flip the Zensation over, and you'll find a couple of nice design touches: a plastic business card sleeve and a rubber strike zone to protect the hard drive from knocks and drops. The Zensation Z3's keyboard is comfortable and offers a handful of shortcut buttons, including a cursor lock for the touchpad, always a useful feature. The audio is about par for a notebook: Located under the front edge of the case, the Zensation's stereo speakers emit good volume but so-so quality. The print manual adequately covers the basics.

With its light weight and good speed, the Zensation Z3 seems best for someone looking for a mobile companion to their desktop PC.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • ABS Zensation Z3

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