HP dv5 Laptop Review




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The HP dv5 is a pretty terrific laptop.

It's fit and finish is about the best you'll find anywhere. And HP seems to have gone to great lengths to make it a fun computer to use.

Spec wise, it's typical of a lot of mid priced laptops. The one tested has a 2.1 GHz Core 2 Duo processor with 3 GB of memory. It came with Windows Vista, with a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it is released. I installed Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) on a second partition to test performance with both Vista and Windows 7.

One nice touch is the touch sensitive media controls above the keyboard. Particularly handy is the volume control. It make a little click through the speakers each time you tap the control to change the volume. A display pops up on the screen to show your volume setting. You can also mute the volume with the controls. there is also a control to turn the WiFi radio on and off.

The touchpad is the shiny metal type that lots of HPs and Compaqs are using now, and it looks great and works fine.

Overall, the computer responded very smoothly, with no frustrating lags in performance in typical use. The processor seemed like a very good match to provide the speed and responsiveness most people would want, without the laptop being too expensive.

Initially, Vista seem a little unresponsive, so I used System Configuration (msconfig.exe) to turn off alot of programs that were set to start up when the PC was turned on. Then things ran great.

Initially, the fan ran all the time and it was LOUD. Using HP's Total Care Advisor showed a BIOS update was available. Downloading that resulted in the fan running considerably slower, and not being objectionable.

The Total Care Advisor is actually quiet nice, and helps the user keep their system secure and running well. more about Total Care Advisor


DVD playback was excellent. Colors were vivid. Even the speakers were quite good, and sounded natural. The DVD burner has support for Dual Layer DVDs, and was able to create Windows restore disks using only 2 blank double layer DVDs.

The only complaints were pretty minor. A slight reflection on the keys made it hard to identify seldom used keys. When the laptop was put into sleep mode, a white LED flashes fairly brightly. It the laptop is in a bedroom, it can be annoyingly bright when the lights are out. In that case, shutting the computer down completely got rid of the flashing light.

Performance on Vista and Windows 7 was actually pretty similar. I really didn't have a strong preference of one over the other. They both worked well. In the course of testing security, I ran a program called Leak Test. This showed some vulnerabilities with the firewall included with the 60 day trial of Norton Internet Security. So I installed Comodo's free firewall and disabled the firewall part of Norton. HP's Total Care Advisor reported incorrectly that no firewall was running, when in fact, Comodo was working. Overall, things were working so well on Vista, I didn't use Windows 7 too much.

Eventually, I hope to install Linux after Windows 7 is released. At that point I can remove the partition with the test copy of Windows 7 and install Linux, with the boot menus hopefully working correctly to choose between Windows and Linux. So I did try some bootable CD versions of Linux. I wanted to see how legible text was and if the WiFi card worked. Fedora 10 wasn't able to toggle the WiFi radio on and off; I wasn't in a WiFi zone, so I'm not 100 percent sure whether WiFi would have worked. But Ubuntu 9.04 and Sabayon 4.1 seemed to control the WiFi card, so I'd lean toward putting one of those versions on.

Overall, the laptop is really fun to use. It compares cosmetically to some of the Sony's costing well over $1000. Everything seemed to work the way you'd expect things to.


































Helpful Windows shortcuts:

F11 - toggles between a normal window and full screen; works on most browsers.

hold "alt" key then press "tab" - toggles between windows. You can continue holding the alt key and repeatedly press tab key to get to the window you want.

F1 "Help window" for the program you're using

"alt" + "print screen" or "ctrl" + "print screen" will do a screen capture. It captures an image of either everything on your computer monitor or the active window. You can then paste it into a program like Front Page or some versions of Netscape Composer.

"alt" - highlights the "File" menu in the program you're using. Then you can use your arrow keys to move across and up and down through the menus. This can be helpful on a laptop that has an awkward pointing device. Pressing "Esc" gets you one level back on the menu, or out of it.

"Backspace" takes you back to the previous web page (on most browsers).


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