HP Pavilion dv7-2215SA review

3 Dec 2009

HP's Pavilion dv7 is a hulking 17.3in desktop replacement with a miniature price tag

HP Pavilion dv7-2215SA
Price when reviewed: 
560inc VAT
5

Big is beautiful, or so the old saying goes, but in the world of laptops a gargantuan frame often comes with a similarly giant price tag. HP's Pavilion dv7 doesn't conform to that stereotype, however. Generously proportioned and available for just £487, it promises a hell of a lot of laptop for surprisingly little outlay.

Let's get things straight, though. If you're looking for a laptop to carry around with you, we'd recommend you look elsewhere. At 3.35kg without the power supply, and close to 4kg with it, the dv7 isn't a laptop your shoulder will suffer gladly.

And even if you decide that you do need a bit of a workout after all, we'd make sure to keep the dv7 in a well-padded laptop bag. Short of milling the dv7 from a single piece of aluminium - something HP understandably couldn't squeeze into the budget - a big laptop such as this is going to exhibit some flex here and there. The lid has a fair amount of give in it, and even the base begins to creak a little once you really start to tug on it. It's nothing overly concerning, though, and if it's a desktop replacement you're after, the Pavilion still has plenty to recommend it.

Indeed, the dv7's huge 17.3in screen is one of its biggest selling points. It has a generous native resolution of 1,600 x 900 and provides a refreshingly spacious Windows desktop. Image quality might not quite place it at the very top of the pile, but popping two documents side by side, or just having multiple applications open at once, is no problem for the HP.

The HP's sheer size doesn't just pay dividends with its screen either. The chassis has enough room to accommodate a comfortable keyboard and a numeric keypad. The keys have a precise action and plenty of travel, and the glossy silver trackpad makes cursor control luxuriously smooth.

As you'd expect for the money, the specification is nowhere near top of the range, but it's perfectly pitched for most people's needs. The 2.1GHz dual-core processor and 4GB of memory are enough to keep 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium running smoothly, and a result of 1.00 in our benchmarks is exactly what we'd expect.

The provision of both dedicated graphics and a fast 7,200rpm 500GB hard disk is a pleasant surprise, however, and the result of some skillful penny-pinching on HP's part. Don't dismiss the ATI Radeon HD 4530 chipset as being incapable: it charged through our easiest Crysis benchmark at a smooth 45fps, which bodes well for taking on modern games at reduced settings.

You might expect such a huge laptop to struggle on battery power, but even here the HP confounds expectations. Light use stretches to a surprising 4hrs 15mins, while heavy usage sees the HP last for a herculean hour and 46 minutes.

And importantly for a desktop replacement, connectivity is beyond reproach. The four USB ports are spread equally between the HP's two flanks, and one doubles up as an eSATA port, which is handy for rapidly backing up large amounts of data to an external drive. Meanwhile, a mini-FireWire port nestles alongside a card reader, an ExpressCard/54 slot and there are both VGA and HDMI outputs ready and waiting to be connected to an external display.

When viewed as an all-round package, the HP Pavilion dv7 is a superb desktop replacement. Well built and more generously specified than the price would suggest, it really is both big and beautiful.

Details

Price ex VAT £487
Price inc VAT £560
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 414 x 275 x 44mm (WDH)
Weight 3.350kg
Travelling weight 3.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4300
Motherboard chipset Intel PM45
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 17.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD4530
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9500420AS
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive LG GT20L
Battery capacity 4,300mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset IDT HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 20min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 46min
Overall application benchmark score 1.00
Office application benchmark score 0.93
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.21
Encoding application benchmark score 0.95
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.92
3D performance (crysis) low settings 45fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied Microsoft Works 9, CyberLink DVD Suite