HP’s Pavilion dv5-1110em is the ideal laptop for the recession, cramming in loads of features at a bargain basement price.
Billed as an Entertainment Notebook PC, the dv5 comes with an integrated Blu-ray optical drive - a surprise at this price. You’ll also find HP’s QuickPlay software for instant-on, and a host of touch-sensitive media buttons for one-touch control of your DVDs, CDs and media files.
The 15.4-inch Super-TFT screen is bright and colourful, although it’s not the sharpest panel we’ve seen. The 1280 x 800 pixel resolution won’t allow you to get the full benefit from high-definition movies, but there is an HDMI port in place - so you’ll be able to hook up an external HD TV.
This machine’s design is another plus point - the shiny chrome-effect plastics may be a little too much for some people, but we like it, and there’s an overall feel of quality. The plastics are robust, and the thick screen surround also provides plenty of protection for the display.
When it comes to comfort, the HP excels. The keys are large and well attached, and we found the rubber-like finish tactile and comfortable. It’s also a quiet keyboard, further adding to the sense of quality. As with other HP Pavilions, we found the touchpad slightly too resistive, and scrolling across pages can quickly prove tiresome.
Basic 3D performance is provided by an entry-level dedicated GPU - ATI’s Mobility Radeon HD 3450. We found it offered more than enough power for regular office tasks, and it also coped fine with HD playback. You’ll even be able to play games, although the latest titles struggled in all but the most basic of settings.
In order to meet that credit crunch defying price, compromises have been made when it comes to the choice of processor. AMD’s Turion X2 Dual-Core Mobile RM-72 chip is fitted, and runs at 2.1GHz. We found it noticeably slower than the other laptops in our office although, with a healthy 3072MB of memory on hand, it’s still a reasonable performer when it comes to multi-tasking. Battery life was the biggest disappointment, and we found it impossible to get more than 2 and a half hours use from a single charge.
Connectivity is reasonable, with four USB ports dotted around the chassis. Along with the HDMI-out, you’ll also find a VGA-out for older displays and projectors. An eSATA interface offers speedy connections to external hard drives, and there’s a 4-in-1 card reader and an ExpressCard slot. There’s no 802.11n Wi-Fi, but the 802.11b/g adapter should suffice for most uses.
At a touch over £500, it’s amazing just how much the Pavilion dv5-1101em has to offer. There are few cheaper machines featuring Blu-ray drives, and it also provides reasonable multimedia performance. Along with the excellent build quality and comfort, it’s easy to recommend this laptop.
Only the choice of processor lets it down - we found it slower than equivalent Intel-based machines, and the battery life is also poor. That said, unless you’re going to be carrying out the most processor-intensive tasks, or need a laptop for long-term travel, it’s a price well worth paying.