Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
The HP Pavilion dv4-2045dx offers more multitasking muscle than many of the other mainstream budget retail laptops we've recently reviewed. Helped by a 7,200rpm hard drive (most in this sub-$600 class use slower 5,400rpm drives) and 4GB of memory, the AMD Turion II Dual-Core M500 processor held its own against the Intel-based competition in our lab tests and in real-world use. It's a good-looking notebook, too, with plenty of ports and opportunities for expansion. The only place the dv4-2045dx falls a little flat is in battery life, and even that isn't horrible. So as long as you don't need to spend a lot of time away from an outlet, the dv4-2045dx is a very good choice.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$579.99|
|Processor||2.2GHz AMD Turion II Dual-Core M500|
|Memory||4GB, 800MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||320GB 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||ATI Radeon HD 4200|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WD)||13.2x9.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.4/6.2 pounds|
Featuring HP's Moonlight Imprint finish, the dv4-2045dx looks good for a body that's almost entirely made of plastic. The snowy white body has a fine gray pattern of wavy lines. Despite being glossy, fingerprints are less noticeable on it because it's white. On the lower left of the lid is an odd, backlit HP logo that looks like a small LCD. Opening the lid reveals a shiny black LCD bezel and the display hinges. Perforated white metal surrounds the keyboard while the keyboard and palm rests match the lid. The sides are covered in chrome as are the touch pad and accompanying buttons. Overall, it's a nice design for a budget notebook.
At the top of the keyboard is a touch-sensitive strip for controlling volume as well as icons for muting audio and turning activating Wi-Fi. There are no other dedicated media controls; however, HP includes a small remote control that can be stowed in the ExpressCard slot. The keyboard is reasonably comfortable for a laptop this size, though the keys are a bit softer than we like. The keys are glossy, but at least they're white like the rest of the chassis, so they don't get covered in fingerprints. Also, the touch pad is short and wide, which is only upsetting if you're used to a larger one. More of an issue is its chrome finish; it collects fingerprints and creates drag. A small button above the touch pad lets you quickly shut it off the pad if you're not using it.
The 14.1-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,280x800-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. The display gets sufficiently bright; movies look good on it; and text and icons are highly readable. Off-angle viewing is also pretty good, especially compared with the competition. The same can be said for the stereo speakers that get reasonably loud without distortion. They aren't exactly bass heavy, but music and movies were pleasing to listen to. Lastly, located above the screen is a serviceable Webcam and microphone.
|HP Pavilion dv4-2045dx||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA-out, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, 2 headphone and 1 microphone jack,||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, eSATA/USB port, multiformat memory card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Expansion||ExpressCard/54; HP expansion port 3||ExpressCard/54|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The port and connection assortment on the 2045dx is solid for a notebook of its size; there's really no wasted space on either side. The inclusion of an eSATA/USB combo port and an HDMI out port are welcome. There's also an HP proprietary expansion port (for connecting to an HP docking station); it probably comes at the cost of a USB port, but you can always expand through the ExpressCard slot. Bluetooth is absent and the wireless is 802.11g, but you do get a modem, so that's something.
Various incarnations of the Pavilion dv4 exist, but 2045dx is a fixed retail configuration that can't be tweaked prior to purchase. If you like the body, but want different components, it can be customized and ordered on HP's Web site. We were pleased with the components HP offered in the retail configuration for the money, but should you want to add more memory (it's upgradeable to 8GB) or swap out a hard drive, it can easily be done after purchase.
If you're the type of person to have several applications running at once, you'll be happy with the dv4-2045dx. Its AMD processor, 4GB of memory, and speedy hard drive proved themselves more than worthy at multitasking on our lab tests. Though it didn't do as well on our image-processing and music-encoding tests, it was definitely competitive. In regular use, the laptop handled streaming audio and video well even as we simultaneously did basic office tasks, some light photo editing, Web browsing, and running e-mail and IM clients. That's not to say you can't overtax the system (we wouldn't try anything more than casual gaming, for example), but it shouldn't have a problem keeping up with most essential home and office use.
|HP Pavilion dv4-2045dx||Average watts per hour|
|Annual power consumption cost||$6.72|
The dv4-2045dx ran for 2 hours and 31 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. This is pretty short in comparison with other systems that are at or below its price. However, the hard drive also spins at 7,200rpm, which helps explain why it's shorter than most on our demanding drain test. In anecdotal testing, we got up to 3 hours of battery life; not great, but more typical of what you can expect. Also, despite being Energy Star qualified, it costs more to run it annually than any of the other budget notebooks in our roundup (granted, that's still only $6.72 a year).
HP backs the Pavilion dv4-2045dx with an industry-standard, one-year warranty. Toll-free telephone support is available 24-7 during your warranty period, and the HP support Web site includes real-time chat with a technical support representative. If you want to troubleshoot problems yourself, you can search through the site's thorough FAQ database. While retail shops are happy to sell you an in-store extended warranty, they are often expensive and hard to use, so we don't recommend them.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)