Editors' note: We have updated this review for the newest version of the HP Pavilion dv4000, which includes a discrete GPU. We retested the system, reevaluated it, and updated configuration, performance, and pricing information in the review. (11/2/2005)
With the Pavilion dv4000, HP delivers a well-designed and versatile multimedia laptop that starts at a highly affordable $850. Weighing just over a pound more than the thin-and-light dv1000, the midsize Pavilion dv4000 is chock-full of entertainment features and quite competent at productivity and multimedia tasks. Given a refresh in September 2005, the dv4000 can now be configured with an ATI GPU that gives it decent, though not exceptional, gaming power; our new test unit, which included the ATI card, costs $1,761. Though it still lacks the built-in TV tuner found on significantly more expensive systems, there's not much else that the Pavilion dv4000 can't handle. We think it's a very good choice for any student, home, or small-office user.
Striking just the right combination of black and silver, HP made the Pavilion dv4000 one cool-looking laptop. The inside is black; the lid, the sides, and the touch pad are silver; and a handful of status lights scattered around the case glow a pleasing blue. Similar to the Acer Aspire 5000, the midsize Pavilion dv4000 measures 1.5 inches thick, 14.0 inches wide, and 10.3 inches deep. At 6.7 pounds, it's about the same weight as the Gateway M460S, half a pound lighter than the Dell Inspiron 6000, and 1.2 pounds heavier than the dv1000. With its 8-ounce AC adapter, the Pavilion dv4000 has a reasonable travel weight of 7.1 pounds.
We particularly like the Pavilion dv4000's large keyboard and found it exceptionally comfortable to type on. The roomy, wide-aspect touch pad has a scrolling strip, but the mouse buttons don't give much, and we're disappointed that HP omitted a touch pad on/off switch, as found on the Pavilion zd8000. Though it doesn't have dedicated track-advance buttons, there are external volume buttons (plus mute) and quick-launch controls for your DVD-and-CD-player application of choice. The Pavilion dv4000's wide-aspect 15.4-inch display isn't the brightest screen we've seen, nor is its 1,280x800 (WXGA) native resolution the finest available, but it's adequate for productivity and most entertainment applications. Our test model featured HP's BrightView display technology--basically a glossy coating over the screen--which gives the Pavilion dv4000 an extra dose of brightness and contrast but also picks up stray reflections. The HP Pavilion dv4000's angled front edge accommodates a set of Harman Kardon stereo speakers, which sound better than your average laptop's speakers, even with the lid closed.
Like the previous Pavilion dv1000 model and other multimedia notebooks such as the Toshiba Qosmio G25-AV513, the Pavilion dv4000 doesn't need to boot Windows to play DVDs, audio CDs, homemade MP3 discs, or songs stored on the system's hard drive. Using HP's Linux-based QuickPlay software, the Pavilion dv4000 gets to the opening credits of a movie or the first track of an audio CD in 16 seconds--about a minute quicker than booting up Windows and starting Media Player. Also included is a nifty remote control for advancing tracks, adjusting the volume, and muting the audio; it snaps into the machine's PC Card slot when not in use. Also onboard the dv4000 is a double-layer DVD burner with HP's LightScribe technology, which etches labels directly onto the surface of CDs and DVDs. The only big-ticket entertainment item the Pavilion dv4000 lacks is a TV tuner, as found on significantly more expensive machines such as the Qosmio G25-AV513, the Pavilion zd8000, and the Fujitsu LifeBook N3510, though you can always buy an external USB tuner for around $150.
Though it's smaller than the Pavilion zd8000, the Pavilion dv4000 manages to cram in just as many ports and connections. You get a PCI Express card slot (high-speed peripherals are expected to arrive soon) as well as a traditional Type II PC Card slot. Digital photographers and music mavens will enjoy the 4-in-1 flash-card reader, which supports Memory Stick, Secure Digital, SmartMedia, and xD-Picture cards. You also get four USB 2.0 ports distributed around the edges, plus one four-pin FireWire port and connections for audio, VGA, and S-Video. There's a connector for HP's xb2000 expansion dock. And with a 100Mbps LAN port, a V.92 modem, and Bluetooth and 802.11b/g radios, you're in good shape for getting online. All of the ports are clearly labeled with little icons lining the edges of the notebook.
The included software is nothing to write home about: our system came with Microsoft Windows XP Professional and a few multimedia titles, including Muvee AutoProducer DVD and InterVideo WinDVD Creator, for editing and burning, respectively. HP also provides discs for reloading the machine's software.