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HP Pavilion dv3 review

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

Verdict

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

Review Date: 28 Jul 2010

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: £609 (£716 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

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.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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