When it comes to the ZE2000Z, we have some mixed feelings, especially in light of its "brother" budget notebooks, the ZE2000T and the ZE2000. We also have to note that, for all of our comparisons with the previous ZE2000, there have been some changes to the current version of that model. No longer does it come with a Pentium-M, only a Celeron-M. Pentium-M is now reserved for the newer ZE2000T. Meanwhile, all three models now use Altec Lansing speakers. The earlier model of the ZE2000 used Harmon Kardon speakers.
For a budget notebook, the ZE2000Z is a reasonable buy. AMD has made great strides with its Mobile Sempron and Turion CPUs. And according to early reports, results with Turion based ZE2000Z systems are pretty close to our Mobile Sempron score when it comes to battery life. However, despite all of this, we still see a difference of almost 60 minutes between the ZE2000 and the ZE2000Z. It's basically 2 hours and 21 minutes versus 3 hours and 14 minutes. Whatever is being said about AMD and Intel mobile CPUs at the moment on a purely benchmark level is for others to say. On a system level, we can adequately say that there is a difference you should consider when making your next notebook purchase, especially since we observed that both a 1.73GHz Dothan Pentium-M and a 1.8GHz Mobile Sempron 3000+ share the same level of stuttering when trying to process a 1080i HDTV file for playback. That operation seems to require more performance than either CPU can provide.
Again, the only physical design complaint we have is the possible design flaw with having the keyboard and touchpad spaced closer to the edge than normal, which might pose an inconvenient problem for some users. In any event, this can be solved with a generic keyboard wrist rest. Personally, we would have loved to have seen a 14.1" display version of the ZE2000, because it would have cut down on the size and made it a more "mobile" notebook. Having the option to increase the display resolution from XGA to SXGA+ would definitely have been another plus, but a 15.0" XGA display is still a very reasonable choice considering this is a budget notebook.
Our sample was priced at $1093.98 (XP Pro, Mobile Sempron 3000+, BrightView display, 60GB, Broadcom 802.11b/g, 2 x 256MB, 1 year warranty, and Dual Layer writer), which ended up being $943.98 with the current line of rebates ($100 instant and $50 mail in). Compared to a similarly configured DV1000 or ZE2000T at $1,328.99 (no rebates) and a ZE2000 (1.5GHz Celeron-M) at $1,192.99, we would have to recommend this system to those looking mostly for a straight-forward budget notebook with average or low mobility requirements. Once you start loading up on better components, the price gap between the ZE2000/ZE2000Z/ZE2000T and non-budget conscious notebooks starts to get smaller, so shell out a few more dollars for a higher end model if you are loading up. Compared to Dell's budget notebooks, we are more willing to pit HP's Intel based solution against it than HP's AMD based solution. Regardless of the competition between HP and Dell, AMD still isn't completely in the same ballpark when it comes to battery life.
The overall feel of the notebook is that of a basic multimedia machine, minus a few bells and whistles, because of the budget price. This is a good thing for those who need to do work for business or school but still want a notebook that can watch the occasional movie as well. Compared to other approaches, this is more of an upper end notebook design scaled back to lower the price versus a lower end notebook design scaled up with optional components. While that is the feel of the form, we personally wish that HP would go back to using the spectacular Harmon Kardon speakers.
If you want to get the best bang for your buck and still want to go mobile with AMD rather than Intel, an HP ZE2000Z with a Turion CPU is the better way to go. If you are going to willingly chose a system with less battery life, at least equip it with a CPU capable of 64-bit computing, even though that is still a long way off for any mobile platform. In any event, you'll probably be able to benefit from the larger L2 cache size.
For its price range, it is still a tough notebook to beat. In the end, we are giving the HP Pavilion ZE2000Z a rating of 8.0 on the HotHardware Meter.