HP dv1000 Review (pics, specs)

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by Mitch Gates

After about 15 years of using computers I decided to purchase my first laptop.  I have always resisted owning a notebook for various reasons, but the temptation of being able to pare down my home office to a single desktop and having a computer I can travel with finally became too great and my quest began.

The major usage of this notebook would be for web-browsing, word processing, email, dvd viewing, listening to mp3’s and transfer/editing of images from a digital camera.  I also wanted enough memory to be able to comfortably run Discreet 3ds Max.  Since this software runs acceptably without any 3d acceleration and I didn’t plan to do serious gaming on this machine, a high-end graphics chipset was not as important as portability and price.

HP dv1000 Notebook (view larger image)

My requirements for a notebook were as follows, in order of importance…

  1. Ability to run WinXP
  2. Small and lightweight.  Ideally 5lbs or less
  3. DVD playback
  4. 1gb of ram or 1×512 to allow easy upgrade
  5. Good battery life
  6. Attractive appearance
  7. Under $1600

After about a week of online research I narrowed my choices down to a few models, and the HP DV1000 was #1 on my list. I ordered it on HP Shopping website as a custom configured machines.  The specs were as follows:

  • 1.8ghz M Processor
  • 512mb ram (512×1)
  • WinXP Pro
  • 80gb 5400rpm HD
  • CDRW/DVD-ROM combo drive
  • Brightview Option
  • Intel 2200 b/g wireless w Bluetooth
  • 6 cel battery
  • Remote Control
  • 2 pair earbuds

The total cost with tax and after a 10% promotional discount was $1678.  This price was before an offered $100 rebate.

Enclosure, Construction and Appearance

One of the first things I noticed about the DV1000 was that it was a little nicer looking than I expected from seeing online photographs.  Although I still prefer a silver “powerbook” interior look over black finishes, the DV1000 is no toad.  The outside of the DV1000 is a nice painted silver (not the bluish-silver others have suspected based on some HP products).  The inside and keyboard is a mix of textured matte black plastic and a smooth polished black for certain trim sections.   Some users have complained that the exterior of the DV1000 scratches easily since it’s painted.  The DV1000 is a bit “busy” with all of its white text to describe every button, port and feature. A good example is the large “Widescreen” text above the lcd.  The keyboard area features blue back-lighting for the media control, power and wireless buttons (situated just above the keyboard).  These look ok, and do help when using the unit in the dark.  However, I could take or leave them from an appearance perspective.   One quick note…the power button is actually silver in color and NOT white as some have reported.  It does appear white in photographs, but in reality it is light metallic silver.

HP dv1000 Front view (view larger image)

HP dv1000 Angle view (view larger image)

HP dv1000 under-side view with battery removed (view larger image)

HP dv1000 under-side view with battery in (view larger image)

One weak spot in it’s otherwise solid construction is that when the lid is closed, the latch does not hold the lid completely tight or flush.  When closed there is some “wiggle” room…a gap of about 1/8th inch that you can feel if you press down or clasp the notebook to carry it. 

Size and Weight

I really like the size of the DV1000.  It’s small and light enough that its not a burden to carry around in your bag, but still features a full size keyboard and generous screen size. If you are looking for an ULTRA portable, you might want to consider another machine since the DV1000 weighs in at a little over 5lbs and.  The Sony S-series and Dell 700m are considerably smaller…but the Sony is much more expensive and the Dell lacks many of the feature options (5400 rpm drive, Bluetooth, etc).

Performance

I really didn’t do any extensive benchmarking or performance testing on this unit, but overall it felt very responsive so therefore the perceived performance was very good in my opinion.  Booting XP seemed fast, which is probably due to the 5400rpm hd (I highly recommend this option).  I did some basic Photoshop work and it handled the task with ease.

Battery and AC Adapter

The 6-cell battery is the standard for this unit.  The battery snaps-on flush with the bottom shell of both units.  I have not done extensive battery life testing but it seems to average about 3 hours of life per charge.  I also tried the 12cel, which roughly doubles the life but does stick out the bottom quite a bit.  This has the nice side effects of propping the notebook at a more comfortable angle and exposing the exhaust fan a bit better.  However, the battery only spans about 2/3 of the width of the unit, which can make it a bit awkward when resting on your legs while sitting. 

Keyboard and Touchpad

Above view of the keyboard and touchpad on the HP dv1000 (view larger image)

Closeup of lights and keyboard on the dv1000 (view larger image)

The keyboard on the DV1000 is overall very quiet.  Its keys are smooth, yet responsive and have a very high-quality feel.  The touchpad of the DV1000 is slightly textured, and features a vertical scroll zone.   The buttons of are also textured plastic and have a very smooth yet responsive click.   The media control buttons are situated above the standard keyboard and offer easy access to functions such as Play, Stop, Pause, Rew, Fwd, chapter skip, volume, mute, etc.  There is a utility where you can configure these buttons to control just about any function of any program.  Quite cool!

Display and Graphics

I ordered the DV1000 with the “Brightview” option which is supposed to enhance color and contrast.  This coating does indeed make the screen quite reflective, but it’s not so bad in most viewing situations.  I have read enough user reports on Brightview to convince me it does indeed increase color and contrast enough to justify the added glare.    At first glance, the lcd appeared to very nice contrast and color.  However, the screen turned into one of its weakest aspects.  Once I started examining DVD movies and photographic images I found that the DV1000 exhibits some very annoying viewing angle behavior.  When viewing such content, the lcd suffers from the dreaded “inverse color” effect in dark areas at VERY narrow angles.  The problem overall seems to be that unless you view the screen from slightly ABOVE you will get this effect.  If you tilt the screen to where it is perfectly parallel to your viewing angle, the inverse colors start to appear in the upper corners of the screen.  If you tilt the monitor back even just a few degrees, this effect can be seen on the entire area of the monitor.  It only gets worse as you increase the vertical viewing angle.  Strangely enough, the horizontal angle penalty is much more forgiving as long as you view slightly from above center. 

Speakers and Audio

The DV1000 has excellent speakers when compared to most notebooks on the market.  It sports Harman Kardons, which are mounted slight upward angle that does indeed improve delivery of sound.  Also, the unit has two headphone jacks which could prove quite handy when traveling with a companion.

Ports and Expansion

HP dv1000 side views and ports (view larger image)

The DV1000 includes a robust array of I/O ports.  The placement of the 3 usb ports seem well thought out.  Also included are Firewire, S-Video out, pc-card, ethernet, phone, 
 VGA, productivity port and the 6-in-1 media adapter.  The only complaint is the media adapter does not read compact-flash.  I was also happy to find that both the memory and hard-drive bays are user serviceable.

I did a quick test of the S-Video output, and found the signal to be acceptable but not what I would call excellent.  You have the option of viewing via the S-video signal only, or simultaneous display of the lcd and S-video output.

Heat and Noise

Overall, the unit seems to have very low noise and heat levels during normal operation.  The fan rarely seems to kick in during normal usage…usually only when viewing DVDs or doing processor intensive work.  On the subject of heat, I have found the DV1000 barely gets warm at all after over an hour of use.  

On the subject of noise I would like to point out another strange observation about the DV1000.  After about 3 days of use, it started to exhibit a faint yet annoying high-pitched squeal.  I can only describe it as a high-frequency, electronic “buzz”.  It’s not related to the use of the optical drive, and turning off wireless has no effect.  It come and goes, and is not terribly loud…but it is enough to be quite annoying while in a quiet room.  Others on online forums have complained about this as well.

Quickplay

HP dv1000 QuickPlay example (view larger image)

Quickplay seems to be an extremely useful feature, especially when viewing DVDs on the road.   This feature is made possible by a mini-linux OS stored on a small partition on the system drive.  I’ve determined the time from first hitting the “dvd” button when the unit is off to viewing a movie is approximately 20 seconds.  Pretty impressive when compared with the roughly 60 seconds needed to boot into XP and launch playback software (this gap would be closed considerably by using Hibernate instead of a full reboot).  While running Quickplay, you can use all the media control buttons above the keyboard, as well as the arrow keys and the “Ok/Back” buttons.  There are also a few functions available for adjusting color and display options during dvd viewing.

The usefulness of mp3 playback feature is a bit more questionable considering its limited feature set compared with iTunes or Winamp.  It requires you put any music you would like to access via Quickplay be stored in the “Shared Music” folder.  It does continue to play if you close the monitor, which is great for listening on the go.

Remote

HP dv1000 Remote and slot (view larger image)

The IR handy remote, which stores away in the pc card slot, is very useful and has pretty much every control needed for multimedia use.  It seems to have a very good range (at least 15ft) and can even power the unit on/off.  This is probably my favorite feature of the DV1000.  It would be ideal for those who plan to use their notebook as a replacement for their stereo or tv.  I have also read report of others using this to control power point presentations!

HP dv1000 Remote Control (view larger image)

Curse of the Clock!!!

It appears my DV1000 arrived with a defective CMOS clock.  After a few days of use I noticed that every time I cycled power the system time would be back to where I last manually set it.  Upon further investigation I discovered that the time in the BIOS does not count up….but instead just sits there.  After contacting HP support, I flashed my BIOS as their suggestion.  No improvement.  Next I was told it needs to be returned for repair (possibly a faulty CMOS battery).  Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy about the prospect of having a brand new notebook serviced. 

Conclusion

I feel this notebook fits the bill for anyone looking for a lightweight and portable notebook computer.  Of course, this opinion is assuming the product arrives without any defects (which wasn’t the case for mine).  If not for the stuck clock and weird viewing angle problem, I would easily pick the DV1000 over the all my other options.  I really like the extra media playback and remote features, as well as the feel of the keyboard when typing.  However, due to the aforementioned issues I ended up returning it and getting a Compaq V2000 instead  (please see my DV1000/V2000 comparison review on this site).  When I contacted HP they offered to build send me a brand new one in exchange for the defective unit, but I was afraid I would probably get another with the same lcd issues. 

I hope this review will help some of those out there trying to decide if the DV1000 is right for them.

Pricing and Availability




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