The sleeper HP Pavilion dv3 13-inch laptop

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.

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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

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3 comments
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  • Perfect!

    This is the exact machine I have been looking for as a personal all-around laptop. I would much rather have an Intel chip and perhaps by the time Windows 7 releases HP will have the same machine with an Intel proc.

    Beyond that I thought what I wanted was a 10" netbook but this is perfect.
    rmlounsbury@...
  • Caveat Emptor

    If the internals are anything like the HP Pavilion dv2000z series of Turion chips with Nvidia GPUs, watch out for early (after 1 yr) overheating problems.

    I had to crack open mine and put a replacement heatsink/fan in as it would overheat the CPU and reboot.

    Also, these machines aren't designed to be taken apart; the connectors, soldering, etc are low-quality and you can break them easily without trying.

    Caveat Emptor.
    no_zd_user_name
    • Keep 'em clean

      As with any computer, keeping the cooling units clean go a long way towards keeping them functional. A monthly blast of canned air greatly extends the useful life.
      Dr. John