The sleeper HP Pavilion dv3 13-inch laptop

Summary:HP introduced two consumer laptops at CES in January: the 12-inch Pavilion dv2 and the 13-inch Pavilion dv3. The dv2 got all the press because it employs a new AMD Neo processor, which is the closest thing AMD has to a netbook chip, but the dv3 seemed like a potential sleeper.

HP introduced two consumer laptops at CES in January: the 12-inch Pavilion dv2 and the 13-inch Pavilion dv3. The dv2 got all the press because it employs a new AMD Neo processor, which is the closest thing AMD has to a netbook chip, but the dv3 seemed like a potential sleeper.

The Pavilion dv3z is HP's second 13-inch laptop. The first, the Pavilion dv3510nr, was a best Buy exclusive that garnered strong reviews (and a spot on my holiday pick list). The dv3z is a new design, available direct and fully-configurable, that is also getting some good early reviews.

Laptops with 13-inch displays have quickly become popular because they strike a nice balance between usability and portability. The dv3z is a good example. The 13.3-inch LED-backlit display has a resolution of 1280x800, which gives you plenty of room to work. But the notebook measures only 1.0-1.3 inches thick and weighs 4.3 pounds with a 6-cell battery. This is notably lighter than many 13-inch models including the Apple MacBook, Dell Inspiron 13 and Gateway UC Series--though the Lenovo IdeaPad U330 is slightly lighter at 4.2 pounds.

The dv3z starts at $679 (after a $150 rebate) with a 2.0GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-62, 2GB of memory, ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics, a 160GB hard drive, a tray-loading DVD burner and 6-cell battery. But HP is currently offering free upgrades to 3GB and a 250GB hard drive. I'd also recommend the slot-loading drive ($10 extra) and 9-cell battery (a $39 upgrade) bringing the system price to $729 for a well-equipped 13-inch laptop.

Computer Shopper and Laptop Magazine tested a higher-end configuration with a faster processor, the 2.3GHz AMD Turion X2 Ultra ZM-84, 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive and the 9-cell battery. Both gave it high marks for its design, multimedia features--including a good set of speakers--and above average graphics performance. If there's a weak spot, it's the battery life, which ranged from 2 hours 50 minutes on Computer Shopper's tests to 3 hours 36 minutes according to Laptop Magazine.

HP Pavilion dv3z reviews:

Topics: Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Laptops, Mobility, Processors

About

John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are... Full Bio

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