HP Pavilion Verve Notebook User Review

by ToxicBanana Reads (76,784)

The notebook under review is Hewlett Packard’s 14” dv2550 Special Edition (Verve) Pavilion. It is built on Intel’s Centrino Duo (Santa Rosa) platform, and is marketed as an “Entertainment PC”. The notebook has been used daily for a period of 40 days at the time of review. The specs of the dv2550se are as follows:

  • Processor: Intel Core2Duo T5250 1.5GHz
  • Ram: 2GB
  • Video: Integrated Intel GMA X3100 (384Mb shared)
  • Screen:  14” BrightView Widescreen WXGA 1280 x 800
  • Hard Drive: 160Gb, 5400rpm
  • Wireless: Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
  • Battery: 12 Cell
  • Ports: 5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader, 3 USB 2.0,  2 Headphone out, 1 microphone-in, VGA (15-pin), S-video, RJ-11 (modem), RJ -45 (LAN), expansion port, Firewire, Consumer IR.
  • OS: Windows Vista Home Premium

The Verve will soon be sold via HP.com as the configurable Pavilion dv2600t, but currently is only available via Best Buy.


HP Pavilion dv2550se / Pavilion dv2600t (view large image)

 


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Reasons for Buying:

I first decided almost a year ago that I needed a new laptop. I wanted something small and powerful like Dell’s XPS M1210. However, being a ski bum made financing the purchase quite difficult. I decided to wait for Santa Rosa and some money. Then, to my excitement, the XPS M1330 was announced. However, still being in a financial bind from my winter stint in Whistler, tuition took priority leaving the M1330 beyond my grasp – Dell’s XPS premium price could not be justified.

Thus, 14” models became the compromise between size/performance and price. I considered many, including the:

I originally wanted a small powerful notebook with good 3D performance. However, I could no longer wait for a 14” model with an Nvidia 8600 GT.  Then HP’s Verve caught my eye, and I was torn between performance and style. I made a 360, convincing myself its performance would be more than enough and the price would still allow me to buy groceries while in school. The day it was released in Canada (which so far has been the only dv2500 released in Canada), I headed out to Best Buy with credit card in hand.


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Where and How Purchased:

I purchased this at Best Buy for $1,200CND – considering our dollar, I would have saved about $250 had I crossed the border to make the purchase. However, compared to other available notebooks, it is still good value. The only painful part was dealing with the salesman at Best Buy – it took 40 min to actually purchase.

Build & Design:

HP Pavilions are some of the best looking notebooks available, with a sleek appearance and clean lines. They are an attempt at reducing the trend of MacBook popularity by breaking free of the utilitarian mold. The dv2550se takes this design and further improves it, adding the “Verve” Imprint finish with a unique pattern and attractive colours. HP has put great detail into the finish, including printing the wave pattern right onto the trackpad.


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The build quality is good, and pretty much identical to the previous dv2000 generation notebooks. While not as strong as a ThinkPad, its construction can be considered above average for this price range. Overall it feels sturdy, everything fits together snugly, and the screen hinges are comfortably stiff (minimal bounce). The plastics used feel strong and scratch resistant. However, without a magnesium frame in the screen, there is a little flex, and when pressed from behind there are screen ripples at the top left where some internal part is pressing against the display. The screen can be extended back to a maximum of 45 degrees. After a month of use, I am beginning to notice keyboard marks on the screen. They do come off when rubbed with the included microfiber cloth.

The dv2550se includes a 12 cell battery which raises the notebook off the desk. This may be undesirable to some people because of the added thickness and weight, but it does offer improved cooling and longer battery life. However, because the battery is off-center, it becomes a little awkward when supported by a lap.

 


Front view of HP dv2600t (view large image)


Back view of HP dv2600t (view large image)


Left side view of HP dv2600t (view large image)


Right view of HP dv2600t (view large image)

 

Screen:

For anyone who has seen HP’s BrightView glossy screens, they appear bright, crisp, and vibrant – very impressive. However, they do have their flaws. Viewing angles are poor (not a big concern on laptops used by one person), and the glossy screen is very reflective (useless outdoors). Even with these concerns I would still pick this screen over any other option. However, caution must be taken when editing photos due to the contrast differences with slight changes in viewing angle. The 1280×800 resolution is well suiting of the 14” screen size. Backlighting is very even, with a barely noticeable dimming at the bottom corners.

The first dv2550se I purchased came with a very annoying bright green stuck pixel. I returned it to Best Buy only to receive a new screen with a dead pixel. I decided that the dead pixel would be tolerable, as it is no more noticeable than dust accumulation on the screen. At the launch of the dv2550se in Canada, many people in the forums here at notebookreview were complaining of stuck and dead pixels – it seems HP knowingly or unknowingly released a batch of screens with quality issues.

Speakers:

The sound quality of the Altec Lansing speakers is excellent for their size. I have yet to bother using my spare external 5.1 speakers. They can be turned up quite loud, are very clear, and never crackle – unlike the Polk Audio speakers I experienced with an older HP. However, bass is limited due to size restrictions – perhaps in the future HP will find place for a mini-woofer.

Two headphone jacks are conveniently located at the front of the notebook. This is great if you’re sitting on a plane, but frustrating if you intend to use external speakers. This can be worked around by purchasing an HP QuickDock for external speakers.

Processor and Performance:

The dv2550se is equipped with a 1.5Ghz Intel T5250 Core 2 Duo processor. It is the slowest of Intel’s Santa Rosa chips (excluding their low power chips), but is far from slow. I was hesitant purchasing a notebook with a “value” processor, but realized it is more than capable for most computing tasks. If your hobby is video editing, 3D rendering, or scientific computing, I would look elsewhere. However, if you edit the odd video, render a few 3D scenes, or simulate the occasional turbulent flow model, the dv2550se is more than capable – it will just take a little longer.

The same can be said for the integrated Intel X3100 graphic included in this notebook. It is more than capable at handling HD video, the odd game, and Vista Aero. However, if you want to play modern 3D games in all their glory, look elsewhere.

While the CPU and GPU offer only base performance in this Special Edition notebook, HP can at least be commended for including 2Gb of RAM. In a Vista world, 2Gb is almost a prerequisite for multitasking with applications like Word, Firefox, Photoshop, and AutoCAD.

Like in most laptops, a 5400rpm HDD is the major performance bottle neck. As this notebook is intended to replace my desktop (the current trend), I have yet to become used to a slower hard drive. However, having a 12 cell battery makes upgrading to a 7200rmp HDD very appealing.

Benchmarks:

Vista Experience Score


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PCMark05

PCMark05 measures the overall system performance of a notebook, the 6910p came out with a respectable score, though nothing spectacular:

Notebook PCMark05 Score
HP Pavilion dv2550se (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 3,351 PCMarks
Toshiba Tecra M9 (2.20GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 130M 128MB) 3,723 PCMarks
HP Compaq 6910p (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,892 PCMarks
HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100) 4,241 PCMarks
HP Compaq 6910p (2.20GHz intel Core 2 Duo T7500, ATI X2300 128MB) 4,394 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

 

Super Pi comparison results:

Super Pi forces the prcoessor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy, below are some comparison results:

Notebook Time
HP Pavilion dv2550se Verve (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 1m 24s
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100) 1m 09s
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 0m 59s
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s

 


3DMark06 comparison results:

3DMark06 tests the graphics performance of a notebook, as you’d expect the dv2550se doesn’t tear up the competition here as it wasn’t designed as a 3D gaming notebook.

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
HP Pavilion dv2550se (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 558 3DMarks
Toshiba Tecra M9 (2.20GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 130M 128MB) 1,115 3DMarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.20GHz Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 122 3DMarks
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB) 2,776 3DMarks
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,055 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,329 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 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

 

WPrime

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi.

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
HP Pavilion dv2550se Verve (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 54.678s
Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @2.2GHz) 37.299s
HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 40.965s
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240s
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327s
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s
Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 42.218s
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947s
Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz) 44.922s
Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 45.788s
Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz) 46.274s
Samsung R20 (Core Duo T2250 @ 1.73GHz) 47.563s
Dell Inspiron 2650 (Pentium 4 Mobile 1.6GHz) 231.714s

 

HD Tune


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Heat and Noise:

Heat and noise are almost nonexistent in the dv2550se. Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors are very efficient and generate little heat. Additionally, having integrated graphics further reduces power consumption and heat generation. Most of the time the fan is off or operating below ambient noise levels. At high speeds, the fan does not “whine”, nor is it high pitched. When the load is removed the fan quickly returns to its low speed.

The hard drive is the only part which seems to generate heat, warming up the left wrist pad – enough to cause a mild sweat. I’m not sure if the problem is because HP does not adequately remove heat from the area, or because they are installing HDDs that generate excessive heat. Either way, it is only mildly annoying.

The DVD drive is loud when spinning at full speed. However, it is tolerable while watching a DVD movie.

Keyboard and Touchpad: 


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Both the keyboard and touchpad are quite comfortable and easy to use. The placement of the ‘delete’, ‘home’, and ‘end’ keys are much better than some notebooks I have used. There is no noticeable flex in the keyboard. The blue backlit heat sensitive media buttons at the top of the keyboard are both attractive and functional. However, accidently brushing against the QuickPlay buttons will launch the QuickPlay software.


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Input and Output Ports:

The dv2550 includes the following ports: a 5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader, 3 USB 2.0,  2 Headphone out, 1 microphone-in, VGA (15-pin), S-video, RJ-11 (modem), RJ -45 (LAN), expansion port, Firewire, ExpressCard reader.

Considering HP is marketing their new Pavilions as Entertainment PC’s, I am a little disappointed that they do not include a digital video-out port (DVI or HDMI). With almost all TV’s you find on display in stores today being digital, and the Centrino Duo platform supporting HDMI, it would only make sense to include 1 digital out rather than 2 analogue signals.

Wireless:

The dv2550se has built in 802.11agb wireless. It can easily be turned on or off using the switch at the front of the notebook. Unfortunately HP has chosen not to include Bluetooth or 802.11n wireless. However, if you mainly use wireless for the internet, the included 802.11agb works very well – I have reached speeds of 10MB.

The dv2550se has built in consumer IR. Included is a little remote that fits into the Expresscard slot. It is used to control Windows Media Center and QuickPlay.

Battery:

The 12 cell battery lasts a long time. I can carry it around all day without searching for a power source.

I performed the following battery kill test to measure it’s performance:

  • Watch a DVD movie with volume on medium.
  • run wPrime stability test (1 thread).
  • run a virus scan.
  • Wireless turned on

During this test, the CPU was operating at an average of 80%. It took 2hours and 3min before the computer shut itself down.

Operating System and Software:

The dv2550se comes pre-loaded with Windows Vista Home Premium and a variety of HP bloatware. HP has moved away from including recovery disks, and instead provides a recovery partition from which disks can be made. The Vista Anytime Upgrade disks are also no longer present (they were included in the older dv2000 series notebooks).

After a clean install of Windows, I reduced the amount of RAM used at boot-up by 200Mb.

The only non-bloatware software included by HP is the QuickPlay software. While useful, the interface is not as attractive as the similar Media Center software built into Windows. With Vista, it also loses the feature being able to play a dvd or media without booting into Windows (a Quickplay feature that works only under XP).

Customer Support:

I have not yet had to deal with HP customer support. The warrantee is for one year only. Spending $300 for additional coverage does not seem like a good investment for a $1200 product.

Conclusion:

The HP dv2550se Verve is aimed at people looking for a compact and stylish laptop for their everyday computing need. It is a great multimedia notebook with 160Gb of storage and 2Gb or RAM. While not intended for modern 3D gaming warfare, it will handle light gaming and offers excellent performance for value. However, for a special edition notebook, a faster processor would have been nice.

One major complaint I have for HP is the use of the Verve Imprint Finish on their upcoming dv2600 series notebooks. They take the one feature that makes it a special edition and include it on an entire line of notebooks which offer no new functionality over the current dv2500 series.

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Very little heat or noise
  • Long battery life
  • 2Gb or Ram
  • Excellent speakers

Cons

  • No 802.11n wireless
  • No Bluetooth
  • No DVI/HDMI
  • The Verve Imprint finish can be found on dv2600 series notebooks


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