shop for: HP laptops
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.
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.
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
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.