capsule review

HP Pavilion Zx5001

At a Glance
  • HP Pavilion ZX5001

HP Pavilion Zx5001
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

Speed is not the Pavilion Zx5001's strong suit. Equipped with a heavy-duty 3.06 Pentium 4 desktop CPU, it scored just 107 in our PC WorldBench tests, 13 percent behind the 123 earned by a similarly configured Sharp Actius RD20. The Zx5001's power management didn't bowl us over, either. Even with an extra-cost ($25) 12-cell battery, the notebook lasted just 2.3 hours on one charge--about half as long as a typical Pentium M-based machine.

But what the Zx5001 lacks in performance it makes up for in features and design. A big notebook that measures 2 inches tall and weighs 8.6 pounds without its power adapter, the Zx5001 contains lots of goodies. Highlights include a fixed DVD burner, a five-in-one card reader, a large keyboard with a vertical scroll touchpad and cursor lock, and built-in 802.11g Wi-Fi with its own on/off button. The screen's native resolution of 1920 by 1200 pixels is unusually high, even for a 15.4-inch wide-screen display. The notebook also carries a FireWire port and three USB ports.

Many wide-screen notebooks are all screen and not much sound, but the Zx5001 delivered a pretty good multimedia experience. The wide-screen mode filled the 15.4-inch screen with smoothly playing video, and the front-mounted Harman/Kardon stereo speakers were pleasingly loud. You can order the Zx5001 with a removable USB Digital Drive ($49 extra): About the size of a very thick credit card, the drive occupies a slot on the left side of the notebook and accepts SD cards. Alternatively, you can pop out the drive and connect it by cable to other USB ports for use as an external drive, enabling any PC to read SD cards. A 64MB card is included.

Most of the Zx5001's many connections are labeled twice--on the side and again on top of the case in white type reversed on black--so you can find the one you need at a glance.

The users' documentation starts out promisingly, with a slickly produced Quick Setup foldout; but this guide is only a pictorial, with no parts identifications. A printed booklet identifies the parts, but it mixes in information for another (unidentified) model, which confused us at times. The electronic manual on CD is more detailed, but it's needlessly difficult to search because the index is unlinked and because the find utility brings up every instance of a term, whether important or not (typing in 'hard drive', for instance, brought up 63 results).

Upgrading the Zx5001 should not be a problem. One of its memory slots is virtually inaccessible under the keyboard, but the other slot and the hard drive are located in an easy-to-open bottom compartment. To accommodate further expansion, HP offers the Notebook Expansion Base ($250), a unique vertical docking station; the notebook slips into it front-first and attaches to it via a cable that plugs into the right side. The base, which includes built-in Altec Lansing speakers, serves as a port replicator and as an upright sleeve to elevate the notebook screen to eye level. A wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse are included.

Despite its bulk and less-than-stellar performance, we recommend the Zx5001 for its generous helping of features.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • HP Pavilion ZX5001

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