HP Pavilion zd8053EA review

£1089
Price when reviewed

The Pavillion is one of the best-looking machines this month. From the front, the large speaker grille and blue-lit status buttons give an instant impression of chic. Opening it up adds to this sense. The well-placed function buttons also light up blue around the keyboard, and offer volume control, instant DVD access and music playback, wireless connectivity, and there’s also a button to turn off the touchpad. The keys themselves are comfortable to use, as is the touchpad.

HP Pavilion zd8053EA review

The 17in screen is excellent. Its glossy coating and wide viewing angles mean that many people can gather round and watch. The only niggle is the 1,440 x 900 resolution, which is lower than others, but still more than most people need. This is primarily a multimedia machine, with speakers from respected manufacturer, Harman Kardon; crank them up to full power and you have loud, crisp, fully rounded sound – the best on test. HP even provides a remote control so you can sit some way back and enjoy the experience.

Among the more standard features are four USB 2 ports, headphone and microphone sockets, mini-FireWire, and a PC Card slot. There’s also a four-in-one media card reader, a slot for an HP Digital Drive (insert an SD card into this and it effectively becomes a USB flash drive) and an Express 54 card slot – this is the next step on from PC Card slots, but there is a single Type II PC Card slot available too. Lastly, there are S-Video and VGA ports at the back.

The optical drive is superb: a fast LG unit that offers 16x DVD+R, 8x DVD-R and 2.4x dual-layer writing. Toshiba’s 4,200rpm hard disk is a little behind the times, but offers 80GB of storage.

A 3.2GHz Pentium 4 desktop CPU and 1GB of PC2-3200 RAM make up the core of the Pavilion, but performance is hampered by the slow hard disk. An overall 2D application score of 1.06 is off the pace in this Labs. It didn’t fare much better in the 3D tests either: scores of 10fps in Half-Life 2 and 8fps in Far Cry show that the Radeon Mobility X600 graphics will only be able to play older 3D games. When fully loaded, the machine became a touch noisy too, with Intertek registering over 41dBA. Fortunately, it’s quiet when idle.

Bundling Works Suite 2005 is a good move, and the one-year collect-and-return warranty is reasonable at this price. But, when set against an equivalent desktop PC, the Pavilion doesn’t have the necessary power.

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