There is something very likeable about HP's latest value multimedia notebook.
The zv5203AP has a large 15.4in wide-aspect display with resolution of 1280x800. The ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics controller can be configured to use up to 128MB from the total 256MB DDR SDRAM - a bit of a price shortcut, but things improve through the inclusion of a 3GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor (with Hyper-Threading), a 4200RPM 40GB hard disk and a much welcomed DVD+RW drive. At 3.7kg, the notebook is on the heavy side but you do get extras such as front-fascia Harman/Kardon speakers and a 5-in-1 card reader and FireWire.
The excellent software bundle includes XP Home, InterVideo Home Theatre (that comes with a hardware remote control) and WinDVD Creator, MuVee AutoProducer, Sonic RecordNow, HP ImageZone, Norton AntiVirus (60-days live update) and a range of Microsoft products: Works 7.0, Money 2004 and Encarta Standard.
The expansion base (pictured) is bundled with the $2799 zv5203AP but can be purchased separately for $399, as it supports some other HP models. The base features a built-in Altec-Lansing speaker and S/PDIF audio out, amongst other extra ports. Docking with the base creates a pseudo-desktop PC complete with bundled wireless keyboard and mouse.