HP's Pavilion ze5300 matches power with price

At less than $1,900, you might think that the Hewlett-Packard Pavilion ze5300 hardly belongs in a guide to power-user notebook PCs, but think again.

With a 15-inch screen, FireWire port, three Universal Serial Bus 2.0 ports, support for IEEE 802.11g and a 2.66-GHz Pentium 4 processor, this is a formidable performer, near the top of the power-user category even though it comes in at the low end of prices.

Of course, there are drawbacks, such as the nearly 8 pounds of equipment you have to tote along, but it costs a lot of money to remove even an ounce or two from a notebook.

This is one of the few notebooks that come with a DVD-rewritable drive. DVD-RW would have seemed a ridiculous excess a few years ago, but it is rapidly becoming an essential upgrade from the 720M storage limit of CD-Rs.

There are downsides to this system besides the weight. The ze53000 comes with Microsoft Windows XP Home, an operating system that has no business on an office computer. I also found the screen resolution less than razor-sharp.

The final shortcoming is that battery life is too short by almost any standard'about two hours' run time.

Batteries seem to be the last of the over-priced components, and you have a serious problem if you want to run this notebook for extended periods away from a power line. Given the already high weight, I wish HP had added a few more ounces and squeezed a three-hour battery into this otherwise impressive system.

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