HP Pavilion dv3 review

£716
Price when reviewed

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.

HP Pavilion dv3 review

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.

Warranty

Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions327 x 221 x 35mm (WDH)
Weight2.360kg
Travelling weight2.9kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i3-350M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM55 Express
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetATI Mobility Radeon HD 4550
Graphics card RAM512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Capacity250GB
Hard disk usable capacity230GB
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskWestern Digital WD2500BEKT
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveHP GT30L
Battery capacity4,910mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots1
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
FireWire ports0
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetIDT HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?yes
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.3mp
Fingerprint readeryes
Smartcard readerno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use3hr 20min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 30min
Overall application benchmark score1.36
Office application benchmark score1.22
2D graphics application benchmark score1.36
Encoding application benchmark score1.23
Multitasking application benchmark score1.65
3D performance (crysis) low settings52fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software suppliedMicrosoft Works 9

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