The ZE2000 made a very good impression on us. We only wish we had a chance to try it with the 12 cell battery pack, which should have provided about 6.5 hours of battery life based on our experience with the HP Pavilion DV1000 which uses the same battery. With the 6 cell battery, though the 3 hours of battery life available should give the average user plenty of time to do some word processing, e-mailing, wireless browsing, etc.
The only major design complaint we have with regard to the HP ZE2000 is the possible design flaw in having the keyboard and touchpad located too close to the front edge of the notebook. This may be a problem for those with large hands. In any event, this can be solved with a generic keyboard wrist rest. We would also like to see a 14.1" display version of the ZE2000, because it would cut down on the overall size and make it a more "mobile" notebook. Having the option to up the display resolution from XGA to SXGA+ would also be another plus, but a 15.0" XGA display is a very reasonable choice considering this is a budget priced notebook.
Our sample was priced at $1,198.99 (with Intel WiFi 2200BG & Bluetooth). Compared to a similarly configured DV1000 at $1,248.99, we would have to recommend this notebook to those looking for more for a straight forward machine. Once you start loading up on better components though, the price gap between the ZE2000 and non-budget conscious notebooks starts to close, so it'd probably be better shell out a few more dollars for a higher-end model if you are looking for a higher performing notebook.
At a base price of $948.99 (lowest config options + Intel WiFi 2200BG, 1 year warranty, and 2 x 256MB) the ZE2000 can hold its own against Dell's Inspiron 1000 at $1,066, if you consider the price without discounts and rebates. With rebates the HP ZE2000 runs $898.99 versus a similarly configured Inspiron 1000 at $906, but remember that the lowest CPU configuration for the ZE2000 is the 1.3GHz Celeron-M 350, while all Inspiron 1000 notebooks come with the older Celeron 2.2GHz. So in theory, the HP ZE2000 should get better battery life and perform better than competing entry level notebooks from Dell, because of the new power saving benefits in the Celeron-M. After seeing the ZE2000, we are also interested to see Compaq's M2000, which is another budget notebook that sells for about $50 to $100 dollars less.
Based on our overall experience with this notebook and its affordable price, we are giving the HP Pavilion ZE2000 a solid rating of 8.5 on the HotHardware Meter.