capsule review

HP Pavilion dv8000z

At a Glance
  • HP Pavilion dv8000z

    PCWorld Rating

    The sleek dv8000z offers strong battery life, a built-in TV tuner, and solid performance in everything but gaming.

HP Pavilion dv8000z
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

The HP Pavilion dv8000z notebook rivals a desktop PC for storage and entertainment while saving room. The unit has a gorgeous 17-inch WXGA+ screen, superb sound (thanks to built-in Altec Lansing speakers), and a full-size keyboard with dedicated numerical keypad.

QuickPlay buttons located above the keyboard provide one-touch access to DVD movies, music, videos, and photos without starting Windows. HP's credit-card-size remote control lets you sit back and control the action on the big screen. When you're not using it, you can store the remote in the notebook's PC Card slot. You could amass a vast number of digital photos, MP3s, and home videos on the maximum dual 120GB 4200-rpm hard drives (which our unit featured), or you could use the second drive for backup.

Add the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system ($30 extra) and an ExpressCard Analog TV tuner ($130)--both of which the unit I looked at had--and your dv8000z can function as a portable TV, too, letting you watch, pause live action, and record your favorite shows wherever there's a cable connection.

The only one thing the dv8000z doesn't do well is games. The notebook's ATI Radeon Xpress 200M graphics card comes with 128MB of dedicated RAM and can pull up to 128MB more from main RAM. The new memory management scheme is supposed to be faster than traditional integrated graphics because it can take advantage of the bidirectional speed of PCI Express to access system RAM, but this doesn't seem to help much. The best the dv8000z could manage in Far Cry at 1024 by 768 resolution and 32-bit color (with antialiasing turned off) was 23 frames per second. More typical was its performance in Doom at the same settings, where it staggered along at an unplayable 10 fps.

Equipped with a top-of-the-line single-core AMD 2.2-GHz Turion 64 ML-40 processor and 2GB of RAM, the dv8000z turned in an overall WorldBench 5 speed score of 95--strong but nevertheless a little below the marks that most mobile Intel dual-core notebooks we've seen so far have achieved. And in the multitasking portion of the test, the dv8000z was 30 percent slower than the average new desktop replacement at browsing the Internet while converting a sound file, taking almost 12 minutes to finish versus a little over 8 minutes. If you can get by on less than 240GB of storage, you can give performance a boost and save $175 by choosing dual 80GB 5400-rpm hard drives. Though the 8000z is heavy at 9.2 pounds, its tested 3.1-hour battery life indicates that it is truly portable.

The dv8000z is a chunky but attractive black-and-silver unit with many thoughtful design touches that make using it as a desktop replacement a pleasure. Among them are hidden hinges and an easy-to-find eject button on the right-side optical drive (a DVD burner in our review unit). Four USB ports, a FireWire port, and a six-in-one card reader help handle connection and data-swapping needs. An expansion port mounted on the right side gives the notebook further desktop replacement credentials by allowing docking in the optional HP xb2000 Expansion Base, which features a screen stand, port replication, and housing for a third hard drive.

Even without the expansion base, the dv8000z is a solid all-round option.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The sleek dv8000z offers strong battery life, a built-in TV tuner, and solid performance in everything but gaming.

    Pros

    • Gorgeous screen

    Cons

    • Poor gaming performance
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