HP Pavilion dv7-2215SA review
HP's Pavilion dv7 is a hulking 17.3in desktop replacement with a miniature price tag
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.
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||414 x 275 x 44mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4300|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel PM45|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|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|
|Hard disk usable capacity||466GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Seagate ST9500420AS|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||LG GT20L|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||no|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial 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|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||IDT HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||yes|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3mp|
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|