With the Pavilion dv2500t, HP brings Intel's latest Centrino Duo platform to its popular 14.1-inch home laptop. Aside from the new components, much remains the same: the sleek, black-and-silver case still houses most of the features that a home user will want, all at a competitive price (the base configuration costs $950). The price is so competitive, in fact, that our review unit cost at least $360 less than similarly configured systems from Dell and Gateway. At that price difference, we're willing to overlook the Pavilion dv2500t's merely average battery life--you can easily buy an additional battery with the money saved--and recommend it for home users who want an inexpensive, media-friendly laptop.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$1,339 / $950|
|Processor||2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300|
|Memory||2GB of 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||160GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 965PM/GM|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||13.2x9.3x1.0 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.5 / 6.5 pounds|
We've always been fans of the HP Pavilion design, which combines sleek, rounded edges with a shiny (though somewhat fingerprint-prone) black-and-silver finish. Our dv2500t review unit's finish featured the "Radiance" imprint, a subtle pattern of organic swirls and circles across the lid. The laptop's LED indicators glow a soothing blue; most helpful is the light ring around the power connection, which lets you know when the battery has finished charging--thanks to that LED we discovered we'd plugged our laptop into a dead outlet. Size-wise, the dv2500t is more or less the same as other 14.1-inch laptops, such as the Dell Inspiron 1420 and the Gateway T-6815, though it's worth noting that the Pavilion dv2500t weighs a half-pound less than the Dell.
We like the Pavilion dv2500t's 14.1-inch wide-screen display, which features a fairly typical native resolution of 1,280x800. Every Pavilion dv2500t includes HP's BrightView glossy screen finish, which displays richer colors and deeper blacks but also some reflections. In the display bezel sits a VGA-resolution Webcam with built-in dual-array microphones for video chats.
The keyboard on the HP Pavilion dv2500t is almost full-size, with only a slightly abbreviated space bar and Ctrl keys. We never found ourselves hitting the wrong keys by accident, as sometimes happens on laptop keyboards, and typing for long stretches was extremely comfortable. We did accidentally graze the dv2500t's touch pad (and thus misplace the cursor) while typing, an irritation easily avoided by using the touch pad on/off switch located right below the keyboard. The pad itself is a bit narrow, but functional and responsive. To the right of it sits an optional fingerprint reader, which frees you from remembering passwords. Above the keyboard you'll find a row of light-touch controls that launch HP's QuickPlay media software, control disc playback, and adjust volume. As with all Pavilion models, the controls provide an audible click when pressed; users annoyed by the sound can turn off the feedback in the system BIOS. Along the hinge edge sit the laptop's Altec Lansing speakers, which produce full, well-balanced sound. The final feature of note on the keyboard deck: handy port labels that let you know where to plug in peripherals.
|HP Pavilion dv2500t||Average for thin-and-light category|
|Video||VGA, S-Video, HDMI-out||VGA-out, S-Video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, microphone and two headphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Two USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader||Three USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||ExpressCard/54||PC Card or ExpressCard|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner with LightScribe||DVD burner|
As indicated in the chart above, the HP Pavilion dv2500t includes a fairly average selection of ports and connections for a thin-and-light laptop. We were a bit dismayed with our review unit's mere two side-by-side USB ports; it's the price we had to pay for the addition of an HDMI port, which took over the space otherwise occupied by a third USB port. (The HDMI requires a discrete graphics card, so if you opt for integrated graphics on the Pavilion dv2500t, you'll get three USB ports.) The laptop does include a double-layer DVD burner with HP's LightScribe technology, which etches labels directly onto a disc's surface. We love that HP gives its users two headphone jacks, so they can share movies or music with a friend. We also appreciate the inclusion of an ExpressCard slot, which should make it easy to add a TV tuner or mobile broadband down the road.
On CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, our $1,339 Pavilion vied for dominance against the similarly configured Dell Inspiron 1420 ($1,698) and Gateway E-265M ($2,102). The difference among the three systems on the Photoshop and iTunes encoding tests--not more than 19 seconds--is so slight as to be negligible. The distinction is more apparent on our Multimedia multitasking test, where the Pavilion dv2500t scored as much as 10 percent behind the competition. Nevertheless we'd gladly sacrifice a little multitasking performance for the Pavilion's much lower price, especially considering that any current Centrino Duo laptop can easily handle the Web surfing, document editing, and media playback of the typical home user.
The HP Pavilion dv2500t includes a common six-cell battery that lasted 1 hour and 39 minutes on our demanding DVD drain test--on the low side of average for this category. You can expect longer life during typical Windows use, but we would have liked to see the Pavilion dv2500t hold out for at least two hours. For the power-hungry, HP offers a $50 high-capacity 12-cell battery that should last between three and four hours on a DVD drain (CNET did not test this battery).
HP backs the Pavilion dv2500t with an industry-standard one-year warranty; upgrades and extensions up to four years are available at a reasonable cost, starting at $100 for a year of express repair and accidental damage protection. Toll-free telephone support is available 24-7 during your warranty period, and the HP support Web site includes one of our favorite support features: real-time chat with a tech rep. If you want to troubleshoot problems yourself, you can search through the site's thorough FAQ database.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)