HP Pavilion dv7 review

In August, HP were in turmoil. Leo Apotheker had killed webOS out of nowhere, announced that he wanted to spin off their PC division. Then he was ousted in favour of Meg Whitman who eventually came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea (gasp) to keep the world’s largest PC business. Apotheker is an idiot, and HP make fantastic computers, such as the budget Pavilion g6 range and the award-winning Folio ultrabook. Now, we have our hands on a Pavilion dv7, a high-end notebook designed for work and play, but can it justify its £949 price tag?

Hardware

The dv7-6b51ea that we are reviewing boasts a powerful 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM processor, capable of turbo-boosting to 3.1GHz, and a massive 8GB of RAM, enabling it to handle almost anything you throw at it. This, combined with the 1GB of video RAM on the AMD Radeon graphics chip and the 1TB hard drive means that this laptop is perched at the higher end of the spec table. HP didn’t stop there, adding in a few small things such as a fingerprint scanner and a Blu-ray drive to make it just that bit better. The display is a 17.3″ panel of 1600 x 900 resolution which, while having great contrast and a crisp picture, lacks in brightness, even compared to lower end laptops like the Pavilion g6. The screen does however have impressive viewing angles. The built in camera is quite crap, despite its misleading HP TrueVision HD label. Both videos and stills come out at a measly 640 x 480 resolution, and the frame rate is worse than a dustbin.

As with all flagship HP laptops, the dv7 range comes with Beats Audio as standard. The clarity of sound is fantastic, even when playing at full volume. Little distortion occurs and the HP Triple Bass Subwoofer ensures that my large Skrillex collection always makes my head bang. Most importantly for a journalist, however, is the keyboard and the one in the dv7 is quite simply fantastic. The keys are not too shallow, and a rubberised coating makes them very comfortable. The number pad, noticeably absent from some smaller HP devices, is convenient and as you’d expect. The trackpad, hilariously coined as a TouchPad by HP, is smooth and responsive, supporting certain multitouch gestures, but I still prefer using a mouse.

Design

The dv7 is a beautiful piece of tech. The core of the device is made from brushed aluminium, which looks and feels amazing. The base of the device is unfortunately made of plastic, but I can live with this. One advantage of the Envy range is the aluminium unibody, even if it is just a carbon copy of the MacBook Pro. The notebook is not the most portable one I have ever seen, but I haven’t had problems carrying it around the school grounds on a daily basis. The lid of the device is emblazoned with the HP logo which, again similarly to Apple devices, lights up when the device is in use. While this is a nice touch, I would rather that HP used these LEDs in a different place such as the keyboard, which suffers from the lack of backlighting. The speakers are placed around the edge of the laptop and on a bank between the two hinges. The Beats branding is clear to see across the device, even in the taskbar, but, when compared to certain HP laptops, the branding is thankfully minimal and bearable.

Software

The dv7 comes with Windows 7 Home Premium as standard, along with the usual preloaded crapware that you have to filter through upon your first boot. Things like HP Games by WildTangent, Bing Toolbar, Internet Explorer 9 and the free trial of Norton Internet Security went without a moment’s hesitation, but HP CoolSense is actually worth keeping on any HP device. CoolSense allows you to juggle fan usage and performance to make the laptop cooler/quieter when required. SimplePass software comes to work with the fingerprint reader and it can be programmed to log into certain sites and open them with a swipe. Being so well-specced, the dv7 has had no problems with almost everything thrown at it. Games such as Portal 2 and Modern Warfare 3 can be played on the highest graphical settings with ease, and I have, on occasion, been able to play at least half a dozen HD YouTube videos simultaneously, but the Zune software has strangely caused a few problems. On a number of occasions it has caused random reboots, but I believe that this problem is with the software itself having heard of others enduring similar experiences.

Conclusion

The HP Pavilion dv7 is a fantastic laptop, perfectly equipped to handle anything thrown at it without being excessively bulky or expensive. For less than the price of a 15 inch MacBook Pro, you get a better processor, sublime audio and, in my opinion, a superior all-round user experience. While the battery life and webcam both leave things to improve upon, overall I would recommend this notebook to anybody who can afford it.

Xavier Voigt-Hill contributed to this review

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HP announce new Z1 all-in-one workstation with hefty price tag

At Digixav we love HP computers and we all agree that they make brilliant hardware. The Folio 13 won best PC of 2011, and the Envy 14 Spectre is one beautiful piece of Gorilla Glass. The new Z1 workstation, announced today, looks to be another excellent product for Meg Whitman’s company.

The all-in-one workstation looks fantastic. The Z1 comes with a Sandy Bridge i3, integrated graphics and a 250GB hard drive as standard which aren’t fantastic specs for $1,899 but, if you have the money, you can make it phenomenal with a quad-core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon chip, up to 32GB of RAM and a top-of-the-line Nvidia graphics card. There is not much that this configuration couldn’t handle.

Not only is this an incredibly powerful computer, but it looks great too. The clean crisp lines are continued throughout the design, making it look good from any angle. The whole thing can even fold down, making it possible to store very easily. The display even lifts up to allow for easy access and upgrading of the internals.

However, there is one drawback to all this power and design which is the hefty price tag. According to the HP website, it will start at $1,899, a rather high price considering that it is the i3 base model. But considering all this, the Z1 is a business machine aimed at the rich companies, programmers and graphics designers so the price isn’t that unreasonable. Expect to see these hitting workplaces in April.

webOS lives!

HP have announced that webOS will live on as an open source platform, much to the dismay of ousted idiot of a CEO Leo Apotheker. His replacement Meg Whitman announced the news last night, also confirming that hardware manufacture from HP will not be resuming but the OS will be developed by both HP and the community for OEMs that may want it. Rumours have said that HTC and RIM are among the interested parties and we will report on any news regarding this as we get it.

YEAH!