HP DV7 Entertainment laptop

hpdv7laptopOver the last week, I’ve been in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina taking a much needed vacation.  As I always do, I took my laptop with me as I use it in the evenings to wind down, update this blog, view photos I’ve taken that day, etc.  Well, on day two of the vacation, my trusty HP Pavilion laptop failed.  I still am not sure as to what happened, but the thing made some high pitched sounds-I think from the power supply since running off the battery eliminated the noise.  After about twenty minutes of this, the screen went nuts, acting like a new digital TV that was losing the signal.  The screen went black and then nothing.    My wife suggested I go online and look for a replacement.  My son had also brought his laptop, so I took up her suggestion and searched for a replacement.  Since Myrtle Beach is hardly a bastion for consumer electronics, my choices were pretty limited.  Fortunately, my search did not take long.

Sam’s Club had exactly what I wanted and at a decent price.  The laptop I wanted had to be at least as decent as the one we got my son for Christmas.  As it turns out, his laptop is still pretty much state of the art in the price range I had in mind.  There are better ones, of course, but I did not want to spend too much. 

The laptop I found is the HP Pavilion dv7-1247cl.  The dv7 series is pretty decent and can be had in a variety of configurations.  The one I chose has:

  • AMD Turion X2 RM-72 dual core mobile processor (2.10 ghz)
  • 4gb RAM, expandable to 8gb
  • ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics
  • 400gb hdd
  • Supermulti 8x DVD+-R/RW, dual layer
  • 17” WXGA widescreen panel
  • Integrated ethernet
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless
  • Expresscard slot
  • Standard I/O: USB 2.0, SATA, headphone, microphone, modem, LAN, IR receiver and HP docking port
  • Integrated webcam
  • HP Remote control
  • Vista Home Premium, 64bit, SP1

Performance wise, this thing is fast.  I’m not going to quote performance numbers or anything like that-I’m not PC Magazine-but I can say that it opens everything EXCEPT for Internet Explorer blazingly fast.  I was able to render a fifteen minute movie in about three minutes using Photostory 3, something that would have taken quite a bit longer on my old laptop.  Of course, the movie was pretty simple and had no soundtrack.  Still, it was pretty fast.  Rise of Nations took no time to start a session…I usually had to wait a minute for it to setup the game, now it’s just a few seconds.  Internet Explorer, on the other hand, took just as long to start.  IE is really starting to show its age.  I’ve been an IE fan for quite a while, but I have to admit is getting really old.  Microsoft needs to start over.  (IE 8 is not any better, as far as I’m concerned.)  Surprisingly, though, the machine runs fairly cool.  It gets warm, but not hot.  My old laptop would get uncomfortably hot.  I HAD to use a laptop cooler.  On this one, I still use the cooler, but I don’t have to use the thing.  This one won’t roast my legs.

The laptop is big, really big.  The reason is because of the size of the screen…16.9 inches. Because of that, the keyboard has a numeric keypad…something that I am not a huge fan of because it displaces the arrow keys.  What I mean is that I am used to reaching over to the side of the keyboard for the arrow keys, but now I have to re-learn the location.  In actuality, they have not moved: they are still in the same location, but the keyboard itself is several inches wider and that just throws me off.  I’ll get used to it.  The laptop is also a bit heavier than the old one was: 7.75 pounds.  My old laptop was about five pounds. 

The laptop looks nice.  It features HP’s ‘imprint’ patterns and is a copper color.  The color is pleasing to the eye and a welcome change from the sea of black, grey or white laptops that seem to flooding the market these days.  The one downside is that the keyboard features white lettering and is difficult to see in most lighting conditions.

One thing that HP does-and I’ve always hated-is load up the device with crapware.  They have a deal with Wild Tangent to pre-load a truck load of games that are really trialware or demos.  You get, in most cases, the full game, but are limited either in time or number of plays after which you must purchase the games.  They also pre-load Norton Internet Security and Microsoft Office Home edition.  Both of these are 60 or 120 day trial versions.  With the exception of Office, all of this crapware is coming off of the machine.  It is really irritating that they insist on doing this.  I realize they probably get some kind of revenue from pre-installing the crapware, but they should also make it easy to remove it in one place.

HP also bundles the Cyberlink DVD suite for DVD authoring and the Muvee Reveal application for making videos.  The Cyberlink suite appears to be the full product, minus DVD-Video authoring features.  If you want to make a DVD-Video, you have to use the Vista DVD Maker software.  That’s OK for me, but I’m sure there are those who would not want to use the DVD Maker.  I suppose Muvee Reveal is supposed to fill the gap, but…of course, it is a demo version.  You can create a video out of thirty photos, three videos and one soundtrack and that is it.  If you wish to do more, you must ‘upgrade’ the software.  Why include it?  If they really wanted me to purchase this software, they should have let me use the full capabilities of the product and limit the number of times I can use it.  The Windows tools are far better, in this case.

HP also feels the need to put a bunch of stickers on the machine.  Six stickers on the palm rest of the keyboard.  One reminds you of what you bought, one is the Energystar sticker, another HP sitcker, a warning sticker, the Windows Vista sticker and a sticker with the AMD, ATI and WiFi logos.  Then, there are the stickers on the bottom of the laptop…they don’t bother me as much since I rarely see them.

This machine, by the way, is pretty much the same as the laptop we got my son for Christmas.  About the only differences are the crapware, er, software suite and the DVD drive in his laptop also has Lightscribe, which this one does not have. 

If you are an HP fan or want a decent, daily use laptop that is also geared toward entertainment features, the dv7 series is worth a look. 

The machine is currently on sale at Sam’s Club for about $750. I believe it has been supplanted by a somewhat newer model on the HP web site, but the features are the same.

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