A classy, powerful laptop with a Blu-ray player and a large screen, it's let down by the poor backlight which results in dull colours.
17.3 in 1,600×900 display, 3.5kg, 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM, 4.00GB RAM, 640GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
We’ve been impressed before by the build quality of HP’s Pavilion line, and the latest dv7 model is no exception. A glossy, patterned lid opens to reveal a matching pattern around the keyboard, while a stylish and sturdy metal strip runs around the edges of the case. There’s only a thin black bezel around the screen, and a small area above the keyboard is set aside for touch-sensitive LED controls.
Intel’s new Core i7 mobile processor is the main reason for the steep price, although you’re also getting a 17.3in LED-backlit screen and a Blu-ray drive. The processor doesn’t disappoint: its overall score of 101 in our benchmarks is the highest we’ve seen so far, being fractionally quicker than our reference desktop processor and the Acer Aspire 5940G.
While the 1,600×900 resolution is not quite Full HD, you’ll certainly appreciate the extra desktop space over most laptops. The LED backlight is rather dull though, and whites have a cold, blue cast to them. We used the Nvidia control panel to enhance the vibrancy of colours, but such meddling will reduce colour accuracy.
The Nvidia graphics chipset, with 1GB of dedicated RAM, managed a playable 28.7fps in our Call of Duty 4 benchmark. If you want to play the very latest 3D games you will need to reduce detail settings to get a playable frame-rate, but older games and less graphics-intensive titles will run fine.
If you want the full home cinema experience, the dv7 includes an HDMI output – so you can watch Blu-ray films on your HD TV. There isn’t any digital audio output, though, for hooking it up to older surround sound receivers. Sounds from the internal speakers were clear and had a refreshingly deep bass, but they aren’t quite loud enough to fill a living room.
There are four USB ports, split evenly between each side of the case, plus FireWire and eSATA ports. You get a memory card reader and a large ExpressCard slot too, this is used to store the bundled mini Media Center remote control, or you could install a TV tuner here.
The large screen means there’s plenty of width to include a full-sized keyboard, with a chunky Enter key and a full numeric keypad. The keys are moulded into a comfortable shape, and have a light action and crisp feedback. The metallic touchpad is surprisingly responsive, with chunky buttons that feel responsive. At 3.5kg, the dv7 isn’t particularly portable, but its battery lasted a respectable three and-a-half hours.
HP’s dv7 is a class act, and its larger display makes it a good alternative to last month’s Acer 5940G. Its 3D performance is slower, though, and the 5940G is more portable and has a Blu-ray writer rather than just a read-only drive. It’s the dullness of its display that lets down the dv7 in the end, however, and holds it back from an award.
|Processor||Intel Core i7 720QM|
|Processor clock speed||1.6GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||IDT HD Audio|
|Power consumption standby||1W|
|Power consumption idle||33W|
|Power consumption active||66W|
|Viewable size||17.3 in|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce GT 230M|
|Graphics/video ports||VGA, HDMI|
|Total storage capacity||640GB|
|Optical drive model||hp BC-5500S|
|Optical drive type||DVD+/-RW +/-DL BD-ROM|
Ports and Expansion
|Total Firewire ports||1|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11a/n|
|PC Card slots||1x ExpressCard/54|
|Supported memory cards||SD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD|
|Other ports||eSATA (shared with USB socket), 2x minijack audio output, minijack microphone input|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Operating system restore option||restore partition|
|Software included||Microsoft Works 9, Cyberlink DVD Suite|
|Warranty||one year collect and return|