At a Glance
- Decent all-around performer
- Good battery life
- Big battery makes it a bit clunky
- Slightly narrow touchpad
Bigger, better, faster, more: This notebook expands upon HP’s all-purpose Pavilion dv3 while undercutting the price.
Editor’s Note: This laptop is a special fixed-configuration model offered only at the Best Buy retail chain.
Hewlett-Packard’s latest laptop for the back-to-school set is basically a beefed-up but lower-priced ($750, as of August 10, 2009) version of its earlier Pavilion dv3: You get a 14-inch display (up from 13.3 inches on the dv3), more battery life (thanks to a huge 12-cell battery); and a lot more horsepower. You also get an understated plaid case pattern (not visible in the photo gallery image above, unfortunately) that lightens the case’s otherwise serious demeanor.
The glossy (and therefore glare-prone) screen offers a 1280-by-800-pixel image, for a nonstandard 16:10 aspect ratio–just as the dv3’s screen did. By comparison, the 1366-by-768-pixel screens on some other 14-inch notebooks (such as the Dell Studio 14z) yield a true widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9, so you avoid the narrow letterbox bars that are visible above and below video images on the dv4-1465dx. Still, the dv4’s display reproduces color well. The Dark Knight looked suitably moody, and action didn’t get lost in the shadows.
Measuring 13.2 by 9.4 by 1.5 inches and weighing 6 pounds, this laptop is no ultraportable. Much of its heft is due to its 12-cell battery, which sits below the rig, propping up the unit at a more ergonomic angle and delivering good battery life (just over 6 hours in our PC World Test Center tests, well above the average of 4 hours we get with all-purpose laptops though far short of the outstanding 8-hour battery life turned in by the $1419 Lenovo ThinkPad T400).
For power, the dv4-1465dx relies on a 2.1-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive. This configuration yielded a score of 75 on our WorldBench 6 test suite, certainly adequate for everyday work tasks. The integrated fraohics subsystem includes VGA and HDMI outputs for high-definition video but the dv4-1465dx isn’t a great gaming machine.
The dv4-1465dx has a smooth-as-silk keyboard that feels nothing like the rough rubbery keyboard on Dell’s Studio 14z. Which style you prefer is strictly a matter of taste (or touch). The dv4’s coating certainly gives fingers the sensation that they’re dancing over the supple keys–and it may resist abrasion from Cheetos grit, too. I just wish that HP had made the function keys at the top of the keyboard bigger. They are so small that I had to crane my head to find the button I wanted to hit.
Though the touchpad is shiny and neat, its long, narrow trench of a touch zone doesn’t provide enough space for unrestrained navigation. And the mirrored surface rapidly becomes a smudgy mess of fingerprints. Still, I liked its feel and the rigid-but-comfortable button feedback.
The Altec-Lansing speakers got reasonably loud, but the Dell Studio 14z and the Lenovo IdeaPad Y450 turned in much better audio performance. If you decide to buy the dv4-1465dx, you might as well go straight for the headphones.
The dv4-1465dx takes connectivity seriously, offering gigabit ethernet ports, three USB ports (one of them a hybrid eSATA port that’s perfect for high-speed data), a flash card reader, a PC card slot, a DVD-RW, an olde tyme modem, two headphone jacks, a mic, and a touch-inductive shortcut panel above the keyboard that provide quick access to audio controls and to the onboard 802.11b/g Wi-Fi.
HP continues to load its notebooks with games, demos, and other software that you’re bound to uninstall the second you get home, but I appreciated the HP Advisor bar (which sits atop the desktop view and gives you a handy shortcut for online searches) and the PC Health & Security button (for a one-stop summary of status data about the laptop. It’s by far the handiest of the preinstalled apps.
The dv4-1465dx is a serious step up from the dv3 of earlier this year. And at $750, this machine looks to be a good option, though not the best one around.
Other laptops specially configured for retail sale at Best Buy include the Dell Studio 14z, the Sony VAIO VGN-NW125J, and the Toshiba Satellite M505-S4940. And check out our video coverage of the four laptops from Best Buy in “Back-to-School Laptops: We Review Best Buy’s Exclusives.”