HP Pavilion dv2 Wrap Up

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I’ve been using the HP Pavilion dv2 laptop off and on for about a month now. As it tends to go with most gadgets that pass through my hands, there are things that I really like about this device and then there are some things that cause me disappointment.

Before we get to my ultimate verdict, I still need to tell you about my experiences using a few of the features that I didn’t cover in the other two installments of this series.

The optional Blu-Ray drive

The dv2 doesn’t have a built in optical drive. That may or may not cause you to disregard this device as a potential purchase. It doesn’t bother me in the least. I so rarely have a need to load software from a CD or burn a CD, that I could care less with its absence.

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If you don’t think you can live without an optical drive, you can opt for the external Lightscribe Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer USB drive for $129.99. This drive is supposed to be plug and play, but the first time I plugged it in and tried to load a Blu-Ray (and several other regular DVDs), it kept telling me to put a DVD in the drive. Shutting down and rebooting the laptop seemed to have fixed that issue.

Now, when I plug in the drive, open the tray and pop in a DVD, it will automatically launch the video player software and start the movie. It launches the HP Media Smart DVD player for Blu-Ray DVDs and the Windows Media player for regular DVDs. Playback with either type is smooth and enjoyable to watch.

The only problem with the external drive is the fact that it’s external and you have to carry it with you if you want to use it. If you plan to use this laptop for travel, watching movies on a flight will be a bit inconvenient as I don’t think the laptop AND the external drive will fit that well on a regular tray table.

Take it to the big screen with HDMI

The dv2 has an HDMI out connector (a cable is not included though) that you can use to display your computer screen on your TV.

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When I first plugged the dv2 into my 65″ TV via HDMI, it defaulted the laptop’s resolution to a lower level. I then reset it to the max resolution of 1280 x 800, which you can see in the image above. Surfing on the big screen was great. I could easily read the text. Using the dv2 with the Blu-Ray player was a nice experience too.

System performance

The dv2 is small and portable, but it’s not a netbook and isn’t powered by the 1.60GHz Intel Atom processor like the current crop of netbooks. The dv2 has the AMD Turion Neo X2 Dual-Core Mobile Processor L625 (1.6GHz, 1MB L2 Cache). Instead of running XP like most netbooks, the dv2 is running Vista. I think the AMD processor is a bit under powered for this operating system. It runs fine as long as you don’t load up multiple apps. Once you do, it starts feeling a bit laggy and the fan starts going full force. I’m very curious to see how well Windows 7 runs on it.

I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of performance graphs. My eyes always glaze over whenever I see them in other laptop reviews. If you want to see that kind of info, just google for hp dv2 review and I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of bar graphs :)

I’m not a gamer, so I can’t comment on the gaming power of this computer either. But for normal day to day surfing, media playing, image editing, writing, etc, it works very well.

Boot time for various modes…

Time to boot up from a powered off state = 44 seconds to login screen.

Time to boot up from hibernation (saves session and then powers off) = 45 seconds.

Time to boot up from sleep (keeps session in memory and puts computer in low power mode) = 7 seconds.

Battery Life

Battery life with the 6 cell hi-cap battery is supposed to be about 4 hr and 45 minutes. I did a couple of tests of my own and came up with the following real world results.

Test 1
Started at 3pm with a 100% full battery.
Display brightness set to full bright. The only application that is running is Firefox with 3 tabs. One is playing music from pandora.com at 75% volume level via WiFi (I played music for about 45 minutes and then paused it). In another tab I was typing this article while logged into the wordpress admin interface of The Gadgeteer. The last tab had GMail running. At some point during the battery test, I opened another tab and did some surfing and some hulu.com video viewing.
At 5:18pm I got the 25% battery warning symbol in the task tray.
At 5:42pm I got the 5% warning.
At 5:45pm, the screen blanked, but the computer continued to run for a minute or two and then turned off.
Result = 2hrs 45 mins total run time.

Test 2
Started at 6:05pm with a 100% full battery.
Blu-Ray movie playing via USB drive with audio set to 50%.
At 7:38pm playback stopped with a message.
Result = 1hr 33 minutes

Neither test lives up to the almost 4hr 45 minute run time stated on  HP’s site. I suppose I could squeeze out that much time if the screen brightness was turned way down and WiFi weren’t in use, but um… what’s the fun in that?

You can’t even watch one full length movie without running out of juice.

Random hardware thoughts

As far as size, weight, keyboard feel and display quality, it’s been a pleasure to use the dv2.  Things that haven’t been a pleasure are the constant fan noise and hot air blowing out of the left side of the keyboard area and the trackpad.

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My biggest complaint by far has been the location of the exhaust fan. I don’t understand why they have it at the front left side of the keyboard. I think it would be much better if it were placed at the back of the laptop. Then the display would probably shield some of the noise.

I’m not a big fan of the trackpad either. I don’t like having the scroll feature located along the right edge of the pad. It doesn’t seem to work that well 100% of the time. The trackpad buttons are also pretty stiff to press. I ended up using a small wireless mouse instead.

Random Vista thoughts

I went into this series of articles with the plan to see if I could live with Vista as my primary operating system for the week. It wasn’t as unpleasant as I had feared it would be, but that said, it wasn’t as comfortable to use as OS X. That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that I’ve been using Macs for the past 3 years. Sometimes Vista just feels like a chore to use. However, these days so much of my work is done in a browser, that the operating system almost doesn’t matter to me anymore. I think the dv2 would be better off running an OS that requires a little less overhead though. I’ll be very interested in seeing how Windows 7 performs on it. Or maybe I can hackintosh it ;)

When it’s all said and done

I prefer the keyboard and display size of the HP Pavilion dv2 to that of any 10″ sized netbook that I’ve used so far. The ability to see more info on the display is so much more comfortable to me. The added weight over a netbook hasn’t really been that much of an issue and I will more than likely use the dv2 as my travel computer from now on. Even though it the battery doesn’t last almost 5hrs as claimed, it lasts significantly longer than my MSI Wind and the same as the HP Mini 1000 netbook. Overall, I think HP has a nice little machine here and I like it a lot.

Posted in: Tablets, Ultra Portables

{ 17 comments… add one }

  • jake July 27, 2009, 6:17 am

    I Never knew that you had an X BOX 360 Julie!!!

  • Julie July 27, 2009, 8:36 am

    @jake I don’t play with it very often. Sad really…

  • Brad July 28, 2009, 11:53 am

    Hi Julie,

    You are perhaps the only person that i have found online reviewing the DV2z with the Turion X2 Neo processor! I have really enjoyed your review. Thankyou for your thoughts, but i have one important question i hope you can answer:

    Can the Dv2 witht he Turion X2 Neo handle HD Flash content? No Atom or nano or even single core athlon neo can handle it as far as i know (because flash is so CPU intensive). If you could test some online HD content (youtube, or hulu etc) i would really appreciate it.

    Thanks alot,
    Brad

  • Julie July 28, 2009, 12:06 pm

    @Brad I’ll test tonight and respond back here.

  • Julie July 28, 2009, 4:57 pm

    @Brad I didn’t have any problem playing Youtube HQ vids or Hulu vids. If you have specific ones that you want me to try, send me some links.

  • Brad July 28, 2009, 6:29 pm

    Thanks for checking; i do have a specific one which you could test (i know it is truly HD which is more demanding than HQ, and it is short so i don’t waste too much of your time…its some movie or show which i am unfamiliar with, but i tested it on my netbook and older laptop and it is really choppy). Please test this video making sure to select the ‘HD’ version. If it isn’t choppy then i’d say the Turion Neo is doing quite a bit better than most other ‘netbookish’ chips:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfEJjbCCZi0

    Again, i can’t thank you enough for checking this. I don’t need a powerhouse machine but i like to watch videos online. I am interested in the DV2, but without your help i have no way of knowing if it will dissappoint or not.

    Thanks a ton,
    Brad

  • Brad July 28, 2009, 6:36 pm

    Oh, also be sure to try it HD in full screen (also more demanding) and if you could, have Task manager open and see if the CPU sits at around 99%…like my netbook and laptop do.

  • Julie July 28, 2009, 7:35 pm

    @Brad in a browser window, the clip played fine after it was fully loaded. The process used 65-72% of the CPU. I couldn’t tell how much of the CPU it used in full screen mode, but it worked fine in that mode too. No stuttering at all.

  • Brad July 28, 2009, 9:06 pm

    That is helpful and encouraging news. I had read in other reviews of the original DV2 w/ single core athlon neo that it couldn’t really handle HD flash video, evidently this new Dual Core Turion Neo is a noticably more powerful chip. Thanks for doing the tests.

  • Ekstor July 29, 2009, 4:10 pm

    I received my dv2 a couple of days ago… and not that it’s any scientific measurement, but the dv2 has a Vista score of 3.8 (in the Aero graphics category) with other categories coming in at 4.6 (cpu), 5.1 (ram), 4.1 (gaming graphics), and 5.3 (hdd). For comparison purposes, I had been considering the Gateway LT3103u which is only on sale at Best Buy. That uses an AMD low voltage processor running at 1.2GHz. The reviews for this unit have been great and with an 11.6″ screen, great keyboard, and relatively low price of $399. It was a strong option; however, despite many reporting that it was more powerful than the Atom alternatives, it still only scored a 2.7 with processor, aero graphics, and gaming graphics all low (2.8, 2.7, 3.0). (http://www.netbooktech.com/2009/07/10/gateway-lt3103u-review/).

    I haven’t yet had a chance to put it through its paces, but so far, it’s been fantastic. One tip to help reduce the effect of “smudges” on the touchpad (which gets very very noticeable very quickly) is to get a cheap PDA or phone screen protector and just stick it over the touchpad. I find my fingers glide over the surface easier and it no longer leaves any smudges.

  • Brad August 1, 2009, 3:54 pm

    Ekstor, is the aero graphics rating of 3.8 a typo? How can it do worse on Aero than it does on Gaming (which must be more demanding). Plus I notice on pretty much every machine the aero score is higher than the gaming score. For comparison, i looked at the MSI X340 in store:
    Processor: 3.6 (that’s the Core 2 Solo SU3500!!! beaten by Turion Neo)
    Memory: 4.9
    Graphics: 5.4
    Gaming Graphics: 3.5
    HDD: 5.6

    Can you confirm that Aero rating for the Turion DV2?

  • rafael August 5, 2009, 3:17 pm

    my vista index score with the athlon neo x2 with 2gig ram:

    processor: 4,5
    memory: 5,1
    graphics: 4,0
    gaming graphics: 4,1
    hard disk: 5,5

    it would be interesting to see the difference in performance between the athlon and turion…

  • rafael August 5, 2009, 4:43 pm

    updated the bios…

    the processor index is now 4,6 and checked the max core temperature … 150 F!!!! (65 C)

  • Derek August 18, 2009, 10:45 am

    Anybody have a fix for constant fan noise?

  • Julie August 18, 2009, 11:16 am

    @Derek Try flashing to the latest BIOS. You can also go into the BIOS on startup and deselect the continuous fan setting.

  • Cyrano August 26, 2009, 3:24 pm

    Julie – Thanks for your wrap-up of the Dv2 review. I’m wondering if you are still using it when you’re away from your home pc? And have you retired your MSI Wind?
    The Wind was my first ‘traveling’ computer, but now it’s the dv2z which is my constant companion whenever I leave the house. Next stop for my Wind is eBay or craig’s list.

  • JT August 25, 2010, 8:27 am

    I’ve the DV2 for over a year and it works perfectly well with Windows 7. In fact, more efficiently. I loved my DV2, coz it’s light and white, fast enough for my usage, with excellent screen display. The heat issue is indeed better after the bios update, and it’s not a problem when using in an air-conditioned venue. I’ve always used it with a cooling pad as I’ve the horrible habit on putting my notebook on my lap and working on it while watching TV, so a lap-cooling-pad is a must for me!

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