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On the left hand side there’s a 5-in-1 memory card reader that accepts SD, MMC, Smart Media, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro. There’s also a Type II PC Card slot, two more USB 2.0 ports and a DVD Writer that will burn DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW discs. Also on the left is the slot for the supplied hp USB Digital Drive. This curiously named device, is in fact a portable SD card reader, that slips snugly onto this slot, but since it connects via a USB 2.0 port, it can also be used on any other computer. When the hp USB Digital Drive is being used, it sits flush with the side of the chassis, while a blue (of course) light flashes when the SD card is accessed. It’s a very strange little device, and I can’t help but think that a bundled USB memory key might have been a better inclusion. That said, it’s still something extra that you’re getting in the box.
At the rear you’ll find the power connector, a modem socket, a serial port and a parallel port. The latter two ports make the machine legacy device compatible, which probably isn’t a bad idea for a consumer product.
At the front of the chassis are three indicator lights for power, hard disk activity and mains connection. There are also plus and minus volume buttons and a mute button. Finally at the front are a pair of Harmon Kardon stereo speakers, and it has to be said that they sound great and put most other notebook speakers to shame.
Performance wise, the zv5464EA turned in some pretty respectable numbers, with the overall SYSmark 2002 score of 219 showing that you’ll be able to run just about any application on this machine without problem. Mobile Mark turned in a battery life time of just over two hours, which isn’t great by Centrino notebook standards, but is decent enough for an Athlon 64 based machine – it’s also worth remembering that this isn’t the type of machine that’s going to be used too much on the move.
But benchmark numbers don’t really show the full picture – this is an AV entertainment notebook, and in this area it excels. Slide a DVD into the drive, hit play and sit back, then you’ll realise what this machine can do. Not only does the picture look fantastic on the widescreen BrightView display, but the sound is also superb thanks to those Harmon Kardon speakers.
To get the most out of the AV features, hp has pre-installed InterVideo WinDVD and InterVideo Home Theater, while if it’s music you’re after, there’s iTunes. But don’t think that hp has ignored productivity – you’ll also find a copy of Microsoft Works Suite installed. This is a great consumer office suite, since it has a full version of MS Word, which is most likely the program that most consumers will make the most use of.
hp has produced a great consumer AV notebook in the shape of the zv5464EA, but what’s really amazing is that you can pick this box of tricks up for only £799. For anyone who’s considering buying a new PC for their home, the zv5464EA makes a good argument in favour of a notebook instead of a traditional desktop machine.
The zv5464EA is a great little machine that excels as a portable AV PC. It’s also a joy to type on and therefore lends itself well to being a consumer workhorse PC as well. But it’s the stunning price that’s the real icing on the cake with this package and anyone in the market for a new home PC should have the zv5464EA high on their list.
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