HP Pavilion dv2278ea review

£899
Price when reviewed

HP has the luxury of designing its own chassis, and the dv2000 series rivals the MacBook for the lust factor. But the reason there’s no award here is a lack of performance. Had HP chosen a more powerful processor than the Core 2 Duo T5500, and a faster GPU rather than the Nvidia GeForce Go 7200, it would have won. The overall score of 1.00 was the second slowest, while a frame rate of 10fps in Far Cry is pitiful and also slower than most.

It’s a shame, because in every other respect the Pavilion is clearly the best laptop here. For starters, it looks stunning, with a modern, glossy black and silver finish and a subtle fingerprint pattern adorning all surfaces. Build quality is excellent too: the chassis has a solid feel all round, being both flex- and rattle-free.

The 14.1in widescreen TFT is the smallest here, but doesn’t give anything away in terms of Desktop real-estate to some of the larger screens – it still manages a 1,280 x 800 resolution. This means the dv2278ea isn’t a desktop replacement like its larger rivals, so there’s no room for a number pad next to the keyboard. But despite the smaller cockpit, the keyboard doesn’t feel cramped. It’s a lesson in good design, and the key action makes it a delight to type on too.

The touchpad is hard to fault, the mouse buttons are perfect, the chassis never becomes too hot and, above the keyboard, a set of integrated speakers pump out a surprisingly full-bodied and loud sound. It’s also good to see a 160GB hard disk, a dual-layer DVD writer, Bluetooth, a media card reader, a webcam and a remote control.

Last but not least, the dv2278ea also has decent battery life, lasting more than three hours in light use. Under intense use, 1hr 6mins was disappointing, but in the context of this group the combined time still places it second.

Ultimately, if the lack of performance doesn’t bother you, and unless you want to edit HD video or play the latest 3D games, there’s really no competition for the HP. It’s well built, well designed, a pleasure to use and worth every penny.

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