HP Pavilion dv7 review: HP Pavilion dv7

There is a lot to like about the HP Pavilion dv7-6b55dx. It’s not that it’s an amazing laptop or anything, and maybe I’m too used to seeing ugly and cheap looking Windows laptops at its price, but the dv7 looks and feels much better than its cost would suggest.

Inside is a great mix of components, featuring a second-generation Core i5 processor backed by an abundant amount of memory that we found made carrying out everyday tasks painless. It has a long battery life, somewhat unusual for a desktop replacement, and all the necessary ports and connections, plus a couple of extras like wireless display and WiMax support.

The biggest flaw of this dv7 is its integrated graphics, which simply don’t have the power to handle demanding games or complex photo and video editing. If these things aren’t on your to-do list and you simply need a desktop replacement for home office stuff and some entertainment, the HP Pavilion dv7-6b55dx may be just what you are looking for.

Price as reviewed$ 749.99
Processor2.4GHz Intel Core i5-2430M
Memory8GB DDR3, 1333MHz
Hard disk750 GB 5,400 rpm
ChipsetIntel HM65 Express Mobile Chipset
GraphicsIntegrated Intel HD Graphics 3000
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD)16.4×10.8 inch
Height1.4 inch
Screen size (diagonal)17.3 in
System weight / Weight with AC AC adapter7.2 lbs / 7.9 lbs

HP Pavilion dv7 proves you can make a Windows laptop under $ 800 that looks and feels good. Both the lid and the keyboard are covered in dark brown brushed aluminum. Branding is also limited and quite subtle; for the most part it’s just a backlit logo in the lower right corner of the lid and a tiny one on the speaker bar above the keyboard. I could do without the glossy black plastic around the screen and the matte black plastic bottom, but they only detract slightly from the overall look. The only real complaint I have is that the whole thing collects fingerprints, but I’d rather have that than a plastic alternative.

With its 17.3-inch LCD display and long-lasting nine-cell battery, this laptop isn’t exactly travel-friendly and feels really heavy when you work on it on your lap. Then again, you’ll probably be keeping such a large system on one table most of the time, so this isn’t a big deal.

The island keyboard with full numeric keypad is large, comfortable, quiet and responsive. It would be even cooler if it were backlit, but it’s not. Instead, the touch pad is rimmed with light, which I’m not sure is really good other than the nice look; if you don’t like it, pressing the Fn key plus the spacebar turns off. The touch pad is a good size, large enough for multitouch gestures like pinch zoom and two-finger scrolling, and has separate left and right mouse buttons. Media and volume controls and audio, screen brightness adjustment, and wireless on / off are mapped to function keys rather than discrete extra buttons. There’s a small quick launch button for a web browser, and there’s also a fingerprint reader for use with HP’s SimplePass software for password support, but that’s it.

The 17.3-inch LED-backlit display has a resolution of 1,600×900 pixels; it’s good enough to support 720p HD playback, but not Full HD. It’s not entirely unexpected at this price point, but it damages its appeal as a multimedia system. However, those who are simply looking for an extra workspace will likely be more than satisfied. It gets very bright and has nice color and contrast, and out-of-angle viewing is pretty good too. The screen is very reflective, so if that bothers you, well, it could be a headache.

Below the screen at the top of the keyboard are the system’s stereo speakers; a triple bass subwoofer is at the bottom of the laptop. They sound good and get a decent boost from built-in Beats Audio processing, but they won’t blow your mind. On the other hand, when paired with a decent set of headphones or external speakers, Beats Audio boosts the output considerably.

videoVGA, HDMIVGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
AudioStereo speakers with subwoofer, 2 headphones, 1 microphone jackStereo speakers, headphone / microphone jack
Data2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, eSATA
NetworkGigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, optional 4G WiMax mobile broadband, Intel WiDi-readyEthernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical driveDVD burnerDVD burner

There are no real extras or surprises in the connection package on this HP. Well, that’s not entirely true. There are two headphone jacks and it’s ready for 4G WiMax mobile broadband access if you want to pay for the service. You can also send content wirelessly to an HDTV with Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) support, though you’ll need to purchase an adapter. But otherwise things are pretty standard.

The Pavilion dv7 is available in multi-component configurations and you can always visit HP’s site and build one to suit your needs. For the money, what’s in the dv7-6b55dx is solid, but not extraordinary. The 750GB hard drive offers plenty of storage, even though it runs at 5,400rpm, so it doesn’t offer any performance benefits. The 8GB of system memory, however, appears to help the Core i5 processor and integrated graphics perform a little better in certain tasks.

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