by Marshall Burke
Being a fan of the HP DV series for sometime I have recently owned a HP dv1000 and a HP DV2000t laptop. I have for the most part had good luck with both units so when the Santa Rosa Platform was finally released I jumped at the chance to purchase the dv2500t Laptop. I really like the 14.1” screen as it provides a good combination of portability and weight, I can actually use it on an airplane with those miniature food trays.
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I ordered my unit through HPShopping.com, the day they were released, and configured the unit as follow:
My unit was scheduled to ship on the 14th of May, but I received an email from HP Shopping stating that it would not ship until the 16th and they also included a $50 coupon off of any future HP Shopping purchase, a very nice gesture for such a small differential in shipping times. I received my unit on the 18th of May via Fedex 2nd Day International Service. I have long since learned the secret that you should never change from the free shipping option to express shipping @ HPShopping.com as it does not change the delivery time.
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Since this is my second DV2000 Series laptop I will be able to provide a semi-unique view of the DV2500t. The first thing that jumped out at me is the new HP Imprint Finish called Radiance, it is not a uniformed pattern like the DV2000t series, it has circular swirls all over the Top Shell and to the left and right of the trackpad. It definitely gives the laptop a more youthful look, and most people will either like it or hate it. The base color is still black on the lid and gray on the keyboard deck, it still has a high gloss finish; thankfully HP included a lint free wiping cloth to keep the lid and deck clean.
Design and Build Quality
The fit and finish is fairly close to that of the DV2000t except for some reason the first couple of days the LCD Screen did not lay flat on the left side, but after use it seems to have corrected itself, I am not sure as to the cause, maybe the chassis was twisted during shipping. The first program I ran was to test for dead/stuck pixels of which none was present. The top lid came packaged with a clear sticky overlay to protect it from scratching and no noticeable scratches or defects were found. The DV2000 series is as close to IBM/Lenovo build quality as you are going to get in a consumer level laptop. The hinges are tight (minimal bounce, nice for use in an airplane or in a car) and the laptop has minimal flex on the chassis, and the latch less design makes opening and closing the LCD painless.
New imprint design on the dv2500t (view large image)
The included Matshita DVD-Ram UJ-8505 works well but is very noisy at high speeds, and makes rattling noises if the CD is not properly balanced especially if you use paper sticky-type labels.
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The LCD in my unit was manufactured by Quanta, and is very bright. The color saturation is excellent and when Cleartype is activated in Windows looks great. This LCD is a major improvement over the DV2000t which has a Chi Mei LCD, which was overly saturated and not very bright, the viewing angle is also improved over the previous generation.
This LCD is probably the best screen I have ever had on a laptop, the only thing I would like to see changed is the option to order a higher resolution screen, currently the only available option is a WXGA which is only at 1280 x 800, but overall it makes this unit a good basis for an Entertainment PC.
Sadly, HP has not yet released a dedicated graphics card for this laptop, it is due out sometime in June. Even though I would probably have opted to keep the Intel X3100 integrated graphics card instead. I am not a gamer, and do not require dedicated graphics, I welcome the power savings that the Intel X3100 provides. That being said, the X3100 does provide DirectX 10 support and does handle the Windows Aero Interface much better than the Intel GMA900 series in the old DV2000t. The Windows Experience Index for Graphics went from 3.1 to 3.4. If you are a true gamer this machine with the Nvidia or the Integrated Intel X3100 would not be a suitable choice.
The Webcam has been modified in the DV2500t, it has been changed from a 1.3 MP to VGA resolution (even though at the time of purchase they were advertising it as a 1.3 MP), while this might disappoint some people, the quality of the images and videos produced from the camera are much better in quality compared to the dv2000t, especially in low light. Also the Dual Mics pick up sound much better in the DV2500t, the DV2000t is barely audible.
Processor and Performance:
The processor in my DV2000t was the original Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz, I ordered the dv2500t with an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.80 GHz, the speed from a subjective point of view has increased only slightly, but the heat produced from the CPU has dropped significantly. The idle temperature on the CPU of the DV2000t was 45C, the DV25000t was running at 28C. Both units were left on for an hour and neither unit had a CPU usage greater than 1%, I tested the temperatures using software called SpeedFan v4.32.
The dv2500t definitely runs cooler under heavy CPU usage and the bottom of the laptop got only marginally warm to the touch. I could actually use this laptop on my lap wearing shorts and not get burnt to a crisp; I could not say the same for the DV2000t which got really hot even under normal usage.
The dv2500t returned a score of 1m 09s using Super PI, the dv2000t returned a score of 1m 22s. The speed difference is not that significant, but being the T7100 is only a 1.80 GHz vs 1.83 Ghz the speed increase was welcomed.
Super Pi Comparison Results
|HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100)||1m 09s|
|HP dv2000t (1.83GHz Core Duo)||1m 22s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300)||59s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200)||1m 03s|
|Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300)||1m 24s|
|Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 34s|
|HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52)||2m 05s|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400)||59s|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 02s|
|Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo)||1m 29s|
|HP dv5000z (2.0GHz Sempron 3300+)||2m 02s|
PCMark05 is a synthetic benchmark that tests overall system performance. The dv2500t with integrated graphics performed very well, outperforming systems from last year that had dedicated graphics:
Comparison table for PCMark05
|HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel X3100 Graphics)||3,376 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (Intel 1.73GHz T5300 + GMA 950)||2,981 PCMarks|
|HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270)||2,420 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite A135 (Core Duo T2250, Intel GMA 950)||3,027 PCMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||4,234 PCMarks|
|Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950)||2,994 PCMarks|
|Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX)||5,597 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||3,637 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950)||2,732 PCMarks|
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400)||3,646 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO FE590 (1.83GHz Core Duo)||3,427 PCMarks|
The following are results from 3DMark06:
|HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel X3100 Graphics)||541 3DMarks|
|Samsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 and ATI 1250M chipset / GPU)||476 3DMarks|
|Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600, Intel 945GM)||106 3DMarks|
|Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB)||1,831 3DMarks|
|Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB)||2,144 3DMarks|
|Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)||1,819 3DMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||827 3DMarks|
|Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||794 3DMarks|
I tested the Hard Drive performance using HD tune the results are included below:
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Keyboard and Touchpad:
I have been a big fan of the keyboard on the DV2000t, and the DV2500t is no different. the keyboard has a minimal amount of flex and bounce. The keys have a very good tactile feel and good travel. The only thing I noticed was on the DV2500t the keyboard is slightly concaved and not perfectly flat like the DV2000t. The only change on the keyboard itself is the Circle Windows Vista key.
A look at the dv2500t keyboard and touchpad (view large image)
The touchpad on this unit is a major change from the previous generation (and that is a good thing.) HP has chosen to go with Alps instead of Synaptics for the touchpad sensor. The only item I despised on the DV2000t was the jumpy near useless touchpad, being left-handed I was constantly fighting with the settings trying to find the right sensitivity setting, as I was always making the cursor jump when pressing the left or right click button. It got so bad that I just stopped using it and carried a small mouse instead. The DV2500t’s touchpad worked properly right out of the box with no adjustments necessary. The Synaptic software has more options for fine tuning, but none of these options are needed for the Alps touchpad. The surface of the touchpad also seems to be smoother allowing you to glide your finger more easily than the DV2000t. The touchpad buttons have also been improved; they do not have as much key travel as the DV2000t, which traveled below the front black plastic bezel.
I opted for the Fingerprint Reader and I really like being able to swipe my finger to log into Windows Vista. It also works with Outlook, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox and even Quicken. The bioscrypt Verisoft Access Manger, is a very nice, easy to use software to setup and use. I did not think I would use this thing as much as I do, but it is so fun to use it is almost addicting. The only problem I have found is that I own the xb3000 Expansion Base, and the fingerprint reader gets obstructed during use. HP should have positioned the fingerprint reader closer to the keyboard so it would not have been blocked, my solution is to keep the laptop up higher on the base, and not let it rest at the bottom of the expansion base.
HP dv2500t in the xb3000 Expansion Base (view large image)
The touch sensitive controls at the top of the DV2500t are still backlit by blue LED’s, but they are not as bright as the DV2000t, which is actually a good thing. The HP Quick Launch Button Utility for Windows Vista has been reduced in functionality compared to the XP version, as you cannot change button assignments (The buttons are locked to the HP QuickPlay Software.) Also the sound the buttons make in Windows Vista are different than the DV2000t and seemed to be controlled within the Quick Launch Button Utility. If I uninstall the utility the buttons will not function (except the volume and mute buttons) and will not make any sounds. The one bug I have found is that with the utility installed the mute button on the Expansion Base uses the old hardware based sounds, but the volume controls on the Expansion Base produce the new sounds, not a big deal but something I noticed and found a little odd.
Inputs and Outputs
The DV2500t has not changed at all from the DV2000t both contain the same ports and located in the same position. I like having at least one USB on each side of the laptop (1 Left / 2 Right)
Left side view of HP dv2500t (view large image)
Right side view of the dv2500t (view large image)
The unit still lacks the ability to output to DVI or even HDMI, but I did look at the service manual for this machine and saw a diagram in which the USB port on the left hand side was replaced with an HDMI port, I believe this option will only be available for the Nvidia dedicated graphics card.
I purchased both the 6-cell battery and the 12-cell battery. On the DV2000t the battery life using the 6-cell battery was poor at best, I could never get more than 2 hours and 12 minutes of battery life using Windows XP (under Windows Vista 1 hour 45 Minutes). So this time around I opted to get the 12-cell battery, so far I have not needed the 12-cell battery (it is still in the original bubble wrap) I am averaging 2 hours and 40 minutes of battery life with the 6-cell. This is using the ‘Power Saver’ option under Power Options with both Wireless Radios enabled. I could not believe I was getting almost an hour more of battery life using the DV2500t so I repeated the same test and got similar results.
The test setup was using Windows Vista Ultimate, Screen Brightness two notches above the lowest setting, both Wireless Radios enabled (Bluetooth and WiFi), ‘Power Savings’ Profile, used Firefox to browse the internet and create documents using MS Word. This is my real life usage pattern, yours may very.
I believe the power savings can be attributed to the Santa Rosa Platform, and the fact that you can enable C4 sleep state in the BIOS.
Heat and Noise
The DV2500t was barely even warm after sitting on my work desk for 9 hours straight. The fans are hardly audible under normal usage, and the fan noise under heavy usage was about the same as the DV2000t. This unit definitely runs cool to the touch and a significant improvement over it older sibling. The unit does get warm to the left of the touchpad where the HD is located. The Fujitsu HD seems to run a little hotter than the Seagate that came with the DV2000t, the difference is not extreme, but it is noticeable.
I opted for the Intel PRO/Wireless 4965AGN, which has Pre-N, at home I have the Apple Airport Pre-N router and had no problems with setup or operation. The network copy speeds are definitely improved over ‘G’.
I am having some issues with the Bluetooth on the DV2500t, it seems to disconnect and reset under heavy HD or DVD-Rom usage (especially when installing software), the mouse and keyboard will stop functioning for 5 to 10 seconds and the HP Wireless Assistant will flash in the Notification Area. I have made an inquiry to HP but have yet to get a response. The problem does not occur under normal usage, and does not occur at all using the DV2000t.
Service and Support
I have used HP support many times over the years and like other companies they have transferred support services to India to save money (while this should not be an issue, I am not one to get political) support has definitely suffered under this scenario, I once had a problem with my Omnibook, and the first responder at HP Support could not help me, so they put me on hold and transferred me to a real technician who knew so much about the device that he talked me through the solution without ever touching a computer (he probably did it with his eyes closed and his hands tied behind his back), you could actually tell that he was passionate about the products he supported, which was the prevailing culture at HP.
I have used HP Support a lot over the last two weeks with this Bluetooth issue and the magical disappearing act of my HP C6180 printer driver on all my computers (including the DV2500t and the DV2000t) running Windows Vista (this is not occurring with the machines using Windows XP.)
I tried using the Online Chat and was immediately annoyed, every person you chat with has dumb-downed English names like John, Joe and Susan (I know they do this to hide the identity and nationality of the person and make the names easier to pronounce) to me this is an insult to their own culture and my intelligence. They also drop canned responses (the same one every time), like ‘Sorry for any inconvenience this problem has caused’ and they seem to be programmed to activate the responses at will, almost like the computer does it automatically (this might be helpful in calming some people down if they are upset, but frustrating nonetheless). As of this review I have not received a satisfactory response over both of these issues and both problems have been escalated, I was promised an email response within 48 hours, neither of which occurred.
I have had the battery of the DV2000t replaced under warranty (one of the 6-cells went bad), which went smoothly and quickly, and I had my old DV1000t sent in for repair for a bad CMOS battery, which also went off without a hitch.
The DV2500t came loaded with all the usual mix of junk software. I don’t hold this against HP; all manufactures do it to subsidize the cost of the laptop (and increase profits.) It is the equivalent of the cell phone companies in the USA that will give you a free phone with 1 year service agreement.
The one thing I do like about HP laptops in recent years is that they follow the same setup paradigm, a directory called ‘SWSETUP’ which contains almost all the software and drivers needed to do a clean install of Windows. I had a free copy of Vista Ultimate I got from a seminar I attended, and wiped the HD clean and started from scratch the process was timely -- about 3 hours from start to finish, but Windows Vista ran much faster and less bloated. The only thing missing from the ‘SWSETUP’ directory was the Fingerprint Software (bioscrypt VeriSoft Access Manager, the drivers for the sensor was in the directory) and the HP Advisor a nifty diagnostic utility. I found the VeriSoft Access Manger by searching HP’s website and the HP Advisor (I was not able to find this App. on HP’s website,) I copied back from the original installation.
All of my software is working well, except for some reason hibernation takes twice as long on the HP DV25000t as it does on the DV2000t, I am not sure if it is an issue with the brand of HD, DMA Settings, or BIOS settings, but strangely the Resume process is faster on the DV2500t than the DV2000t.
A small note for people that want to install Windows XP on this laptop, my BIOS version is F.05, and is missing the option for legacy support for the SATA HD. I tried using a Windows XP Pro SP2 CD and no HD was detected in the setup process, I have yet to try nLite to create a custom boot disc, but Intel drivers are available for use in creating such a boot disc. Also HP has no drivers listed for Windows XP and the DV2500t, but most drivers are readily available from the HP site and via the power of Google.
The DV2500t is a good solid successor to the previous DV2000t series laptop. The difference is not night and day, but incremental in most areas. I still feel as though the DV2500t gives you the best bang for your buck, with good build quality, reliability, and the included standard features. People could try to compare Lenovo or even HP’s NC series, but this is a consumer laptop, meant for the average user, and it does very well for its intended target.
The DV2500t made major improvements in the area of reduced operating temperatures, a better screen, longer battery life and most importantly to me the inclusion of the Alps touchpad.
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