capsule review

HP Pavilion dv2660se Value Laptop PC

At a Glance
  • HP Pavilion dv2660se

    PCWorld Rating

    Designer notebook with excellent battery life will appeal to both multimedia fans and frequent travelers.

The $899 (as of 2/7/08) HP Pavilion dv2660se offers strictly budget performance, but its battery life and a great design make it our winning laptop under $1000.

The dv2660se (the se stands for "special edition") comes with a 1.5-GHz Core 2 Duo T5250 processor coupled with 2GB of memory shared with the laptop's Intel 965 Express integrated graphics. The notebook's WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 67 is significantly lower than the high-eighties scores of some portables with the latest mobile chips, but it's not bad for a budget machine.

In fact, the score beats the average of 65 earned by the five sub-$1000 laptops we tested for this roundup and is only five points below the average for all the all-purpose notebooks that we've tested of late, regardless of price. However, don't expect its graphics power to be good enough to play 3D games well.

Battery life was just short of amazing. This six-pound unit's high-capacity 12-cell battery endured for a whopping 6.3 hours on one charge in our tests. That's about 2.5 hours longer than the average mainstream laptop. The way the big battery protrudes from the bottom of the notebook does not make the dv2660se the most briefcase- or backpack-friendly model in our test bunch, but it does give the keyboard a very nice slant for extra-comfortable typing. The dedicated on-off touchpad button, slightly concave keys, and deep-depressing mouse buttons help typing, too.

The overall design of this Windows Vista Home Premium laptop is just about the best you'll find among budget units. For one, as the latest in HP's designer line of notebooks, this model is stamped with an embedded motif--sweeping tendrils that drape partway over the touchpad like a vine.

Another nice extra is the notebook's instant-on capability via HP's QuickPlay menu, accessed through a touch-sensitive media control panel at the top of the keyboard; it lets you play a CD or DVD without first launching Windows, so it's a great time saver. Two other nice multimedia touches: a Webcam and dual headphone ports on the front so two people can listen in private at once. (Not that you really need headphones because the built-in speakers sound pretty darn good without them.)

The 14.1-inch, 1280-by-800-pixel screen could be a tad brighter, but it's easy enough to read, and it has enough room to comfortably view several open windows at once. The dv2660se does lack some increasingly mainstream features, such as 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, gigabit ethernet, and a fingerprint reader. However, it has 802.11g Wi-Fi, which should provide fast-enough wireless connectivity for most. It also has a DVD writer and an ExpressCard slot. And the dv2600se is one of the few laptops in this price range to bundle a full-fledged set of productivity applications in the form of Microsoft Works 8.5.

Finally, the dv2660se  has the most upgrade potential thanks to a side connection that all Pavilion laptops have for HP's Swiss knife-like xb3000 Notebook Expansion Base. Though you're looking at an investment of several hundred dollars more, this stand/storage docking station lets you add better speakers and another hard drive, a nice option for those who might have the itch to improve the system later on.

All told, the dv2660se is pretty impressive for budget fare and well-deserving of our Best Buy.

--Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Designer notebook with excellent battery life will appeal to both multimedia fans and frequent travelers.

    Pros

    • Fantastic battery life
    • Nice multimedia design

    Cons

    • High capacity battery is bulky
    • High capacity battery is bulky
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