I’m still looking for a laptop, and have narrowed it down to a few. Maybe some of you gurus could help me out on deciding =P

*Choice 1: HP Pavilion ZV6000 *
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (2.0GHz/512KB L2 Cache)
Screen: 15.4" WXGA BrightView Widescreen (1280x800)
Graphics Card: 128MB (Dedicated) ATI Radeon XPRESS 200M
HDD: 80 GB 4200 RPM
Optical Drive: DVD+/-RW/R & CD-RW Combo w/Double Layer Support
Price: $1,229

*Choice 2: Sony VAIO K37 (Refurbished) *
Processor: Mobile Pentium 4 538 (3.2GHz/1MB L2 Cache)
Screen: 15.4” WXGA with XBRITE (1280x800)
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon IGP 345M
RAM: 1.0GB 266MHz DDR
HDD: 80GB 4200 RPM
Optical Drive: DVD+R Double Layer/DVD±RWDrive
Price: $1,299

Choice 3: HP Presario R4025
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (2.0GHz/512KB L2 Cache)
Screen: 15.4" WXGA (1280x800)
Graphics Card: 128MB (Dedicated) ATI Radeon XPRESS 200M
RAM: 1.0GB 333MHz DDR
HDD: 80GB 4200 RPM
Optical Drive: DVD±R/RW & CD-RW Combow/ Double Layer Support
Price: $1,249

Now, the Presario and the Pavilion seem nearly identical. If they are identical, I’d get the Presario (since my local Best Buy has it in stock). Is there a difference between the two?

Also, if you know a computer with those kind of specs under $1,300 be sure to tell me :slight_smile:


EDIT: Figured I should tell people what it’s gonna be used for, :rolleyes:. I’m going to use it for programming and web development. Odds are Photoshop, PuTTy, WinSCP3, AIM, Winamp, and Crimson Editor (Programming text editor) will all be running at once. Maybe an installation of PHP/MySQL as well, just because I’m too lazy to upload stuff when I want to test it…

Any one of the HPs should be OK. There doesn’t seem to be a difference. Don’t bother with the Pentium, I’ve heard from several sources (TSS when they were on, and a few friends) that they are worse than the AMD processors. Actually, it would be a no brainer between the two processors because one is 64-bit and one isn’t as far as I know. Better to be prepared for software and OSs that use the 64-Bit architecture.


[Edit] Just looked at the latest edition of PC World mag (Link to PC World Mag Homepage. In their notebook section of their Top 100 list, they had no notebooks for < $1300 but all of them pretty much had Pentium Ms. Maybe its their WorldBench Testing or something else. Personally, I’d still go for one of the HPs with AMD Athlon 64 processors. [/Edit]

cough get a mac cough :wink:

The top of the line iBook G4 has comparable specs.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing (64 Bit over 32 Bit), but theres not really too many programs which take advantage of a 64 Bit system… Then again Windows x64 is coming out of beta soon (

I think between the Pavilion/Presario it’s going to come down to the feel/look of the laptop. My grandma has a Gateway laptop with the clearest screen ever. Instead of that normal LCD look, it’s got a gleen to it. You can actually see your reflection in the screen.

I thought about iBooks too, but I’m too comfortable with Windows to go cold turkey on it.


HP & Compaq are the same company, and I’d give it a 99.9% chance that the only differences between #1 and #3 on your list are cosmetic. In fact, I have a Compaq (Presario 2585) that is a carbon copy of a friend’s HP Pavillion of some different model number.

Now, if I were you, and given the description you gave, you have no need of the DVD-R drive in each of the machine. If I were you, I’d look to drop that in favor of a faster HDD. You’ll find, if this is your first laptop, that the slower-spinning HDD (most desktop HDD’s are 7200 RPM) is the biggest limit on your performance, especially when multitasking.

1 GB of memory should be sufficient for what you do. I do just fine with 512 MB except when I get big photoshop files going. Then I work on my desktop which has a gig and 4x RAID 0 swap disks. =D

And another question - are you getting a laptop simply for mobility, or to be actually working for long periods of time without cords? If just the former, I’d go with the Athlon 64 - the increased performance should please you. I have a friend who is very happy with hers. On the other hand, if battery life is the big thing for you, I’d take another look at the Pentium M’s as that is their “speciality” and, frankly, they will still be plenty fast.

Oh, and one more caveat: my old HP Pavillion, and my friend’s, which was similar but with a different model number, both have had intermittent problems with certain keys on the keyboard not working. This is a very frustrating problem, but I could never track it down. That being said, my compaq presario that I am currently using is made by the same company and has had no such problems.

Oh, and unless you are especially rough on your machinery, stay away from any extended warranties.

Speaking of which, I have a friend with a Gateway Athlon 64 Laptop with a screen like you describe. It is very, very nice to look at… unless it;s at the wrong angle, in which case the light reflects off of it jut right and you can’t see anything. So there are tradeoffs, but it definitely increases the oooh/ahhhh factor. But if you decide to do that way, just make sure that the reflectivity is actaully what you want. Oh, and she also says that the battery release is a tad too easy to hit accidently, so she has literally had her battery fall out of the computer accidentally. That has never happened to me on my HPs or Compaqs.

Good luck with the decision - any of those notebooks will be fine machines.

I’m going to follow up a lot on what Ryan said.

You left off the most important specs when evaluating laptops: weight, battery life and warranty.

Plan on getting a warranty for as long as you plan to keep the laptop, since you can’t fix anything that breaks yourself. Get the manufacturers warranty, not an extended warranty from best buy, circuit city, etc.

I’m pretty sure #1 and #2 have the ultra reflective screen, based on the names. I haven’t liked it when I’ve seen it, but others I know have.

Don’t plan on running 64bit windows on the athlon64 laptops unless it comes preloaded. Very likely the driver support won’t be available. It’s hard enough to upgrade the OS on a normal laptop, let alone going to a completely new architecture.

Speaking as one who owns a DV1000 series with the brightview screen, that really does make a difference. Ive sat with my dad and compared the screens between mine and his slightly older HP model.
Everything else has been said :-p

Not long after I typed that, I broke the power connector on my thinkpad. That’s one of the few things I probably could fix, but it’s nice to know it’s going to be taken care of.

Joe is right. The first two are going to have the glossy coating on the screen. It makes an incredible difference in image quality, and in viewing angles. Everything appears much more vividly.

Those are all going to have pretty bad battery life. I’d be surprised if you got more than 1.5-2 hours. By comparison, I have a laptop with a 2.0 ghz Dothan processor, 7200 RPM hd, and a much more power hungry graphics card, and I can get up to 5 hours with a few tricks.

The 4200 RPM hard drives are incredibly slow. Get at least a 5400 if you can.

None of your graphics cards are very good. They aren’t even at the same level as many of the graphics cards before PCI-E came out. It doesn’t sound like that’s a big problem though.

I currently have an HP zd7000 17" widescreen, and it was the best decision I have ever made. As for the choices, like what has been said, between #1 and #3 - the BrightView will win out by far. The screen is amazing, if you are using it for any CAD or drawing at all (or even image or graphic design) the detail is unbelievable. All I can describe it as is looking through a jolly rancher. :stuck_out_tongue: As for the power connectors on HP, they have been known to be weak, but that all depends on the user, and also it could happen to any brand of laptop since it is an integrated piece of plastic. Solutions - if you aren’t a business person who carries the computer day after day, and the laptop will sit in a given location for any length of time - HP has a nice expansion base available that gives you ports that aren’t on the laptop, and with one connection, everything is on.

Ohh, and on a side note… I really enjoy the Harman/Kardon speakers on HP. :slight_smile:

Ok, Funny thing here. I’m also in the market for Laptops and i’m looking at if not the same but similar ones. My choice is the HP zv6000 for several reasons:
-Fastest RAM (the sony is slower)
-Most Up to date Video Card
-All the Reviews I have read really like it
-A person in my Architecture class has it already, and I got to use it, its an amazing laptop everything about it is pretty good. She said her average battery life is around 3 hours, and she can get 3.5 if she turns the Brightness on the display down.

Mike, have you also considered buying a cheaper laptop and then add more RAM in yourself? It may work out to save you a few bucks, plus you can probably find a 80 gig 7200 rpm HDD which will signifigantly increase your performance.

Also I went on to the HP/Compaq site to compare the laptops, the R4000 and the ZV6000 are exactly the same if you don’t count the case they are in. I heard something online that I find to possibly be true, HP is the Flagship line and the Compaq is the “Budget” line. But from my research they are exactly the same.

Thanks for the help guys.

As far as the DVD drive, I’d like to keep that. I would hate (in the event I have to reformat) to have to make backups on 10 CDR’s, I’d much rather use DVD’s. Plus, I’ll probably watch some movies on it too. It’s more convenience than priority, so I’ll look into getting just a CD-RW drive and a faster HDD.

Battery life isn’t too much of a concern for me, most of the work i’m going to be doing on it will be at school, home, or competitions. 2 hours is more than enough battery life for me.

Weight is also a minimal issue for me, I won’t be traveling much with it… it’s mostly a desktop replacement.

Originally, I was questioning how good a 4200 RPM would be… but on some sites I found they were saying 4200 RPM is normal for laptops to keep down heat/noise. I’ll look into a 5400 RPM.

Thanks again for the help guys

EDIT: Starting to lean towards the Pavilion, from your guys requests. I toned down the DVD drive, and upped the HDD. Here’s what I came out with:
*Pavilion ZV6000 *
Processor: AMD Athlon™ 64 3200+ (2.0GHz/512KB L2 Cache)
Screen: 15.4" WXGA BrightView Widescreen (1280x800)
Graphics Card: 128MB ATI RADEON® XPRESS 200M
HDD: 80 GB 5400 RPM
Optical Drive: DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
Price: $1,253
HP has a 1 year parts/labor warranty on their Pavilions.

If there’s any way you can get an extended warranty for it, GET IT!

There are two things in life you should absolutely without question buy extended warranties for: cars and laptops.

My iBook doesn’t have an extended warranty, and I greatly regret not having one.

I can’t stress enough how useful they are.


How about a Dell?

I personally have a Inspiron 8600 series, which I got in January.

The 8600 is no longer being produced, but 6000 might be in your price range, depending on how you build it.

I have not had any major problems with it so far, besides some keyboard keys popping off, which I simply popped back on. It’s no wonder that all of them are not off from all of this CD forum stuff!

Actually, for the price of extended warranties, they just aren’t worth it and the hassle and what they cover. I have mine covered under my homeowners insurance. So, if ANYTHING EVER happens to it, as long as I am paying insurance on it, I get the full purchase price back - no questions asked. This includes things like theft, spills, me getting angry and throwing it, or running over it with my Jeep. :stuck_out_tongue:

I looked heavily into dell, since my dad gets an discount from work there. But the problems I found with them were, 1. more expensive processor upgrades and 2. hardly any Video power, very few models had dedicated memory for the video and even those that did got pretty expensive

If I had the money I’d look into Toshiba and Fujitsu, they have great notebooks that start around 1200. Also Acer usually has some hidden deals in its notebooks too. Gateway is also a worthy mention too.

I’d be very interested in reading the terms of your homeowners policy and riders, as well as knowing how much it costs to insure against intentional damage. Does it cover manufacturers defects as well?

Those 80 gb 7200 drives are ultra expensive. They just started appearing in laptops, and even the 60 gb 7200’s are a lot more expensive than their 5400 counterparts.

I know this happened to Bill Gold recently, as well.

Dell really rips you off on RAM upgrades. When I was looking at laptops, it was like $800 for 1 gig of ram, vs $200something on the laptop I eventually got.

Dells which are actually meant for multimedia/gaming use have plenty of graphics card options. They’re going to have a lot more than any other mainstream brand.

Yeah, the upgrade to 5400 RPM will be helpful, that is pretty much now the standard for laptop HDD’s. Although it has already been decided…the A64 is the better processor. Even w/o a 64-bit advantage, the on-die memory controller makes it a winner (and it really comes through in games compared to the Pentium 4). The one concern is the vid card - if you are going to do gaming, but for that price I doubt you could get much more.