HP Pavilion dv3 review

28 Jul 2010

A likeable notebook, with a compact frame, a touchscreen display and luxurious styling

The Pavilion dv3's distinctive stylings stand out from the crowd
Price when reviewed 
716
5

The HP dv3 is a compact little notebook, but for a Core i3 system it is expensive. That’s at least partly down to its unique feature: a 13.3in touchscreen, enabling you to control games and applications with the power of a simple prod.

It’s a feature that smacks of gimmickry, though. Sure, you can play with the Windows 7 Touch pack (the rotating globe is the highlight), but there’s little you can do with a finger that isn’t at least as easy with a touchpad. The screen doesn’t twist round, so you can’t turn the dv3 into a digit-driven tablet either.

Interface aside, the dv3 has other attractions in reserve. Its dark swirls and chrome trim may not be to everyone’s taste, but in a market largely populated by grey slabs it oozes character. And for a touchscreen the display is remarkably good: the only hint it isn't a regular display is a barely-noticeable coldness to its greys. With a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 it delivers just as much detail as larger displays.

The dv3 has some features you wouldn’t expect from such a dinky device, including an ExpressCard/34 slot, Bluetooth and a fingerprint reader. The Altec Lansing speakers are predictably lacking in low frequencies, but they go pretty loud, with a clarity you wouldn't expect from a machine this size.

The Pavilion dv3's distinctive stylings stand out from the crowd

Performance is another nice surprise, thanks to HP's choice of a Core i3-350M, rather than the more common but less powerful 330M. With 3GB of DDR3 and a 7,200rpm 250GB hard disk from Western Digital, the dv3 scored a very creditable 1.36 in our 2D benchmarks. 3D duties, meanwhile, are handled by a discrete GPU – admittedly a last-generation ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4550, but still streets ahead of the lightweight graphics built into the CPU. In our low detail Crysis test it achieved an encouraging 52fps.

Thanks to a capacious 5,100mAh battery, the dv3 lasted a sterling 1hr 30mins in our heavy-use test. That’s good to see, since a notebook of this size is obviously suitable for use on the go. Light use performance was however on the short side at 3hr 20min.

There are cheaper i3 laptops, to be sure, but the Pavilion dv3's sturdy little frame is packed with good stuff. It deserves a look even if you never lay a finger on the touchscreen.

Details

Price ex VAT £609
Price inc VAT £716
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 327 x 221 x 35mm (WDH)
Weight 2.360kg
Travelling weight 2.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i3-350M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4550
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 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 230GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Western Digital WD2500BEKT
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive HP GT30L
Battery capacity 4,910mAh
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 yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
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
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 20min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 30min
Overall application benchmark score 1.36
Office application benchmark score 1.22
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.36
Encoding application benchmark score 1.23
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.65
3D performance (crysis) low settings 52fps
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