HP Pavilion dv4000
At a Glance
HP Pavilion Dv4000
Elegant 15.4-inch widescreen features an ExpressCard slot and includes a six-in-one media reader.
One of these days I'm going to buy a laptop that's a lot more multimedia savvy than my four-year-old Dell Inspiron 2500. When I do, I will seriously consider a portable like the $1189 HP Pavilion dv4000.
This machine covers all the basics--attractive black and silver case, good keyboard, 15.4-inch wide screen (with BrightView option), and reasonable 6.7-pound weight (without AC adapter, power cord, and optical drive)--plus it acts as a stand-alone DVD and CD player. Movies looked good on the 1280-by-800-pixel wide-aspect screen. The Linux program for playing CDs without booting Windows isn't fancy, but at least it's easy to use. Kick back and control the action with an included credit-card-size remote, which you can store in the PC Card slot when you aren't using it. To help you also get some work done, HP bundles Microsoft Works 8.
Alongside the DVD and CD quick-play buttons at the top of the keyboard, you get a handy set of volume buttons and a Wi-Fi switch, each backlit with a bright-blue LED. You can change or stop CD tracks with a set of function keys that are grouped together and clearly labeled; because they're function keys, though, they require combination keystrokes--still, they're better than nothing. The dv4000 offers fairly robust sound for a laptop. In addition, it features a side connection for HP's $299 Xb2000 desktop expansion base, a terrific docking station that includes excellent built-in Harman Kardon speakers and a bay for adding a second hard drive.
All of the dv4000's connections are on the sides or front where they're easy to reach. The multiformat DVD player is on the right, like most. Aside from its multimedia capabilities, the dv4000 fulfills my other dream-laptop requirement by including a six-in-one media card reader, so I can use everything from Memory Sticks to SD Cards (although not CompactFlash, unfortunately). The unit also features the new ExpressCard slot for memory and device cards that will be coming down the pike.
The dv4000 is RAM and hard-drive upgradable. The only user-accessible part I had trouble with was the battery, which had a sticky release and was difficult to fit back in its bay--it's a good thing batteries don't have to be removed often. The keyboard has a hard, quiet feel, with <Ctrl> and <Delete> sitting in opposite corners, just where I like my frequently used keys to be. The rectangular touchpad with textured scroll zone and generously sized mouse buttons work well together.
I work off-site a lot, so the longer the battery life, the more I like a laptop. Although it had a better-than-average showing, the dv4000's 3.3-hour battery life still felt a tad disappointing compared with the performance of portables that lasted 4 or 5 hours on one charge. The 1.86-GHz Pentium M 745-equipped dv4000's WorldBench 5 score of 77 wasn't outstanding, either, but it was within a statistically insignificant 8 percent of the T43's score of 84. In other words, it's just as fast at most operations.
The entertainment is sweet on the HP Pavilion dv4000, a great consumer laptop that serves up DVD movies and CD music without requiring you to boot up.