HP Pavilion dv4000
At a Glance
HP Pavilion dv4000
Avoid the unusable touchpad with an external mouse and you’re cooking with a fully-equipped widescreen.
It's hard to imagine a better consumer notebook than the HP Pavilion dv4000. Since I first reviewed this unit in July 2005, it has been refreshed with better graphics; instead of video integrated into the chip set, it now comes with an ATI Mobility Radeon X700 PCI Express module with 128MB of dedicated memory.
The new model also has a faster processor and more RAM, but aside from better performance, it's pretty much the same notebook as its predecessor, spilling over with useful and fun features even at its rock-bottom $1860 price. It has a 15.4-inch wide screen, a multifunction DVD burner for reading and creating any type of disc, a good keyboard, a memory card reader, a high-speed FireWire port, an ExpressCard slot for next-generation expansion cards, and both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless communications. Shall I go on?
The dv4000 is well designed, with the optical drive and two of the four USB ports on the right side of the case. Identifying symbols stenciled on top of the case as well as on the sides help you locate ports at a glance. Having one on/off switch for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning is less than ideal, but the LED is very nice, a bright blue ring in the center screen hinge where you can't miss it.
When you're ready for a break from work, instant-play buttons turn the dv4000 into a Linux-based stand-alone music and movie player. You can control the tracks and volume from the keyboard or kick back and relax with a credit-card-size remote control that resides in the PC Card slot--a nice touch.
Even the expansion options are generous for a consumer notebook, starting with user-upgradable storage and memory slots that include elegant captive screws. HP's $299 xb2000 docking station fleshes out the notebook into a solid desktop replacement. Much more than a port replicator, the xb2000 features a screen stand flanked by attached Harman/Kardon speakers and includes a second hard-drive bay. A wireless mouse and keyboard are also included. Docking requires some precision--you have to slide the notebook in keyboard first and plug the stand's cable into the left side--but the value of using the dock is worth these small inconveniences.
The dv4000's tested speed was good, if a tad behind that of its peers. This 2.13-GHz Pentium M 770-equipped unit with 1GB of RAM earned a WorldBench 5 score of 88, trailing an identically configured Asus machine by about 9 percent. We did, however, get a big boost in battery life this time around, despite the new video card: This version of the dv4000 lasted almost 4.5 hours on one charge.
A terrific choice for consumers, the dv4000 strikes a good balance of work and entertainment features for a reasonable price.