If you’re looking for desktop power in a smaller package, with all the bells and whistles, I think I have you covered with this new HP Pavilion zd8000 I have been testing.  It’s truly a WOW! machine.

HP’s Pavilion zd800 series starts with a 17-inch gorgeous widescreen display capable of High Definition images. It is absolutely breathtaking.  Once you get past that fantastic display there is so much to like it is almost scary.

I have to say that, though it is categorized as a laptop, it is best for those who take it plug to plug.  That is, it’s pretty large and relatively heavy, weighing in at 9.3 pounds, without the extras I’ll talk about in a moment.  However, it takes up less space than a desktop unit at home AND it does have portability, so keep this in mind.  It’s perfect for those taking it from home to office or on occasional jaunts away from someplace to plug it in.

So, what’s the big deal?  It’s loaded with, well, stuff, good stuff, mind you, stuff that you’ll want.  The model I like in particular has a dual-tuner outboard plug-in device that goes along with the Media Center Edition software.  My test unit has Intel’s blazing fast Pentium 4 630 with Hyper-Threading technology running at 3.0GHz.  My sample also has the higher resolution 17-inch WSXGA+ BrightView Wide Viewing (1680×1050) screen, which I think must be the best I have seen on a notebook, and among the best LCD screens I have ever seen. Period.

Note from the picture above that the computer is wide enough for a great keyboard AND a full numeric keypad as well. It’s a treat.

I have the optional 80GB 5400 RPM hard drive, and there are a pair of 100GB drives also available, in 4200 RPM and 5400 RPM speeds.  You’ll want the faster drive if you are doing video editing and even for watching large files recorded from the tuner.

Then, there are the CD/DVD drive choices, and here there was a very pleasant and very useful surprise that sets this machine apart from all others.  Here’s what is installed on my tester:

“LightScribe 8x DVD+/-RW & CD-RW Combo Drive

Kiss your permanent markers and stickers goodbye–now there’s a better way to burn custom, precise, silkscreen-quality labels on CDs and DVDs: HP’s exclusive LightScribe laser technology. Now you can get creative and personalize your labels with cool text, photos, and graphic designs, then let LightScribe transfer them to your discs. SPEED – 24X CD-R Write/ 8X DVD+R Write/ 8X DVD-R Write/ 4X DVD-RW Write/ DVD Double Layer DVD+R read is supported. (Write speeds may vary based on type of media selected and notebook configuration).”

Buyers can select one of these OR the new dual-layer drives that can write to the new DL media that holds twice what a standard DVD can hold.  I think the LightScribe drive is just great.  What a convenience!    To use this feature, HP has installed special software. When finished burning on one of the special HP LightScribe discs, CD or the coming DVDs, simply turn over the disc and place it back in the drive, label side down, with the LightScribe software launched.  Then get creative (or go simple) and the same laser that writes to the media on the other side activates the special coating on the label side of the disc to create the images from the special dye coating.  It’s ingenious and works beautifully.  It’s NOT color, but it does allow gradations of the black, so it still looks great.  And, there is NO printer needed!  I love being able to create a disc and label it on the spot without any extra hardware and without having to apply labels.  It’s on-the-spot labeling and you’re going to love it, too.

There is a choice of graphics cards all the way up to the ample 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X600, so this computer is also a decent gaming machine.

With an 800MHz front-Side bus and memory up to 2GB (mine has 1GB), this computer really screams.

I also like the other extras, such as the new ExpressCard/54 slot AND a PC Card slot.  If you are not familiar with the new ExpressCard technology, here is the skinny.  This is a very fast data port using cards that fit internally into the slot on the side of laptops and will also show up in desktop computers.  While there are now only a very few devices for this new slot, I like that this computer is ready for what’s new NOW.  Look for ExpressCard TV Tuners, FireWire adapters, Bluetooth adapters, CompactFlash adapters, Flash Memory card readers and Gigabit Ethernet networking card adapters in the ExpressCard format.

There are also four high-speed USB ports spread conveniently around the outside, a FireWire port, a TV out (S-Video), modem port, Expansion Port 2 Connector and an Ethernet port.  Integrated 802.11g wireless is also included, and this newest version from Intel works great.  It’s so easy to use it’s almost like a Macintosh!

Sound is great, too, with Harman Kardon 16-bit Sound Blaster Pro-compatible stereo and an unusually punchy amount of audio.

Here is where it really gets good, as if what I’ve already detailed is not already enough.  Since this desktop replacement notebook PC has so much capability and power, along with the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 operating system comes the Dual TV Tuner and remote control.  With this combination, users can record one program while watching another, or record TWO programs at the same time and still watch something that has been previously recorded.

Performance has been wonderful and nothing has gone amiss. It seems like a really solid machine, to be sure.  I am seriously enjoying using this computer!  I suggest YOU check it out, too, and see how a spiffy HP zd8000 might be the perfect addition to your High Tech Home!

For travel, it’s just too large for most computer cases, and because it is so heavy, you’ll definitely want a rolling bag like the one I have for all my travel with this laptop. I am using the Targus rolling bag recommended for this laptop and others in its size and weight class –

Configurations with LightScribe start at $1324 and top out at just a shade over $2000, which, I think, is quite reasonable for all that’s packed in.  More information is at www.hpshopping.com or by calling 1-888-999-4747.  Retailers carrying the HP zd8000 series include Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Costco, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Sam’s Club, Staples and Wal-Mart.

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