Screen and Speakers
The dv4t has a 14-inch diagonal display with a glossy surface. The picture is clear and it has ample brightness. Contrast is average; the command prompt window doesn’t look pitch black as it should. Viewing angles are narrow; the picture quickly washes out when viewed from above and below. Poor viewing angles are typical for TN-type panels like this one; nearly all notebooks use them with the exception of some specialized workstations and tablet PCs.
The screen’s glossy surface produces a lot of reflections in well-lit areas such as rooms with overhead lighting; this can be annoying. Additionally it is tough to clean. The 1366×768 screen resolution is too low and a higher 1600×900 resolution is not available. A higher resolution would allow more information to be viewed on the screen at once.
Despite the Altec Lansing and Dolby Home Theater badges, the dv4t’s two stereo speakers below the palm rest sound positively awful. These are typical notebook speakers with tinny sound and no noticeable bass. This is made worse since the speakers are located below the palm rest; wrists placed on the keyboard while typing further muffle the sound.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I like the dv4t’s keyboard a lot; it is quiet and easy to type on. The flat Chiclet-style keys have a smooth matte surface. There is no noticeable flex or rattles. The keyboard has a standard layout with the exception of the Function row at the top; in order to active them (e.g. [F8]), the [Fn] key at the bottom left needs to be pressed first. The initial function of those keys is the label printed on them. For example, [F9] and [F10] raise and lower the volume, respectively; the [Fn] key must be pressed in conjunction for them to actually function as [F9] and [F10].
The Synpatics touchpad is appropriately sized for the 14-inch screen. It has a smooth anti-glare surface unlike the rest of the chassis; it is accurate and easy to track on. The two touchpad buttons are too loud and hard to press; this is a consistent design flaw I see in too many consumer notebooks.