We got up close and personal with HP's Pavilion dv2, the first notebook with AMD's Neo processor, at CES. But now we have one to play with, and it looks like this ultraportable will have a lot of appeal for buyers looking for something more stylish, comfortable, and powerful than a typical netbook. But is it worth $749?
At 3.8 pounds, the dv2 is a bit heavy (the Samsung NC20 weighs 3.4 pounds), but it's certainly svelte at 0.93 inches at its thinnest point. The sloping design reminds us of a sports car. Make that a very, very shiny sports car. This version of the dv2, which sports an Espresso Black finish, is quite glossy. In fact, the deck of the system is so glossy we found it a bit distracting to work on under office lights. Some may appreciate that the touchpad has a mirrored surface, but others will be turned off.
The 12.1-inch display is plenty bright, and we found the level of detail good when watching Heroes on Hulu. On the other hand, we couldn't help but notice how high the display sits relative to the NC20. The height of the lid might prove problematic for frequent fliers who are worried about the passenger in front of them leaning back too far. The speakers, backed up by SRS Premium Sound technology, were plenty loud.
As far as ergonomics go, the dv2 is pretty good. The keyboard was fairly comfortable and close to full size (although the concave nature of the keys takes some getting used to), and the touchpad was fairly smooth without too much friction. All of the ports are easy to access on the sides. The right side of the dv2 houses an HDMI port and VGA port, plus three USB ports. On the left you'll find the memory card slot, headphone and mic jacks, and an additional USB port.
So what about performance? We haven't run our full suite of tests yet, but AMD's Yukon platform impresses more in terms of graphics oomph than sheer processing power: In PC Mark Vantage, which measures Vista performance, the dv2 notched 1430, which is about 400 points higher than the Intel Atom-powered Workhorse PC Certeza MC10. We're not sure how much the 4GB of RAM helped here versus the Neo CPU.
The average for ultraportables, however, is much higher at 2952. As another point of comparison, the $699 MSI VR220 YA Edition (powered by a 2.0-GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T3200 processor with 2GB of memory) scored 2,511 on PCMark Vantage.
On the graphics front, the dv2 scored 3735 and 1448 in 3DMark03 and 3DMark06, respectively, which soundly beat the NC20 (606, 131) and the netbook averages in those tests (758, 169). The dv2 even outclasses the average ultraportable notebook in the above benchmarks (1753, 896). The only real downside so far is ambient heat. Some areas we measured beneath the keyboard registered an uncomfortably warm 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall, the Pavilion dv2 looks slick and offers snappy enough performance for Vista, but we'll have to wait and see how much endurance the 6-cell battery offers before we give it our seal of approval. Read on for the full specs and stay tuned for the full review.
HP Pavilion dv2 Specs
AMD Athlon Neo Processor MV-40 1.6 GHz
Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1
12.1" WXGA BV LED
320GB HDD 5400 rpm SATA
4GB DDR2 SDRAM
ATI Radeon HD 3410 Graphics w/ 512MB DDR2
External DVD-RW Lightscribe
HP Imprint - Espresso Black