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: