We've long been fans of HP's Pavilion line of laptops, which combine an attractive design with media-friendly features at a fair price. By those criteria the Pavilion dv6915nr, a configuration available only in retail stores, is a no exception. It features the familiar glossy black case, light-touch media controls, and dual headphone jacks common to Pavilions--all at a low $749 price. Its 15.4-inch display means it's got a bit more heft to carry around than, for example, the 14.1-inch Gateway T-6836, but the trade-off is a broader display with more room to keep multiple windows open at once. Unfortunately, the Pavilion dv6915nr's processor isn't quite up to the multitasking challenge; it finished last or near-last among similarly priced systems on our performance benchmarks. If you're a heavy multitasker, you'll be able to squeeze a bit more performance out of the Gateway T-6836 or the Dell Inspiron 1525-122b, both of which are available for less than $800.
|Processor||2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60|
|Memory||3GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||200GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Nvidia nForce 630M|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce Go 7150M (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||14.1x10.1x1.6 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6.0 / 6.8 pounds|
The Pavilion dv6915nr retains HP's signature silver-and-black chassis; both its glossy black lid and silver keyboard deck feature HP's subtle imprint design, which adds interest without being showy. Size-wise, the dv6915nr is similar to the Dell Inspiron 1525 and slightly sleeker than the Toshiba Satellite A305D-S6848. The Pavilion dv6915's 6-pound weight is likewise average for the mainstream category, and reasonable to carry on occasional trips but perhaps not daily around campus.
The HP Pavilion dv6915nr's 15.4-inch wide screen has a fairly typical 1,280x800-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. The screen's glossy finish produces rich colors and contrast; we found it minimally distracting while surfing the Web and typing e-mail but quite enjoyable for movie watching. A 1.3-megapixel Webcam above the display lets users conduct video chats.
Typing was comfortable on the Pavilion dv6915nr's nearly full-size keyboard. The wide touch pad includes a scroll zone, and we love the on/off button above the pad, which is handy when you want to use an external mouse or just type without worrying about misplacing the cursor. Above the keyboard sits a row of light-touch controls to launch HP's QuickPlay media player, control disc playback, and adjust volume. Handy but unobtrusive port labels on the keyboard deck let you know where to plug in peripherals.
The HP Pavilion dv6915nr includes the full suite of ports and connections we'd expect to see on a laptop of its size, though the Dell Inspiron 1525 does manage to squeeze one more USB port into its similar footprint. (We have a feeling a USB port was jettisoned to make room for the HP Expansion Port, which lets you connect to an HP docking station.) We like the Pavilion's dual headphone jacks, which make it easy to share movies and music with friends. We're less impressed with the Altec Lansing stereo speakers, which are loud and clear but produce too-treble sound.
The retail-only Pavilion dv6915nr comes in a single fixed configuration that includes a budget 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 processor, 3GB of RAM, and integrated Nvidia graphics. In general, laptops with AMD CPUs have trailed behind Intel Core 2 Duo systems on CNET Labs' benchmarks--and the Pavilion dv6915nr is no exception. It came in last or near-last place on almost all of our tests; while we found the speed adequate for basic Web surfing and media playback, we do think users looking for a bit more oomph will be better served by any of the Core 2 Duo-based laptops in our Back to School roundup, all of which performed significantly better than the Pavilion dv6915nr.
The HP Pavilion dv6915nr ran for 2 hours and 28 minutes on CNET Labs' battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That's just above average for a mainstream laptop, and it's the longest battery score among the budget 15.4-inch laptops in our roundup of Back to School systems. Our video playback battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.
HP backs the Pavilion dv6915nr 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 tech representative. If you want to troubleshoot problems yourself, you can search through the site's thorough FAQ database.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)