Note: This review is part of our Back to School 2008 roundup, covering specific configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.
Designed for multimedia users, Hewlett-Packard's Pavilion laptops have always combined eye-catching looks with such entertainment-oriented features as touch-sensitive media controls and dual headphone jacks. Those features trickle down into even the smallest Pavilions, including the 14.1-inch dv2915nr. At 5.5 pounds, the dv2915nr is well sized for students who want a screen that's big enough for multitasking but small enough for frequent trips across campus. The laptop's well-rounded feature set and solid benchmark performance add to its appeal. In fact, the biggest drawback we encountered was battery life: the Pavilion dv6915nr's standard six-cell battery gave out before even some 15.4-inch systems (whose bigger screens draw more power) in our battery drain tests. That won't be much of a sacrifice if your studies never take you far from a wall socket; otherwise, we suggest you look to the Gateway T-6836, which offers a bit more performance oomph and lengthier battery life for the same price.
|Processor||1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550|
|Memory||3GB at 667MHz|
|Hard drive||250GB at 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Intel 965 Express|
|Graphics||Intel GMA X3100|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit)|
|Dimensions (WDH)||13.2 x 9.3 x 1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5,4 / 6.2 pounds|
The Pavilion dv2915nr features HP's signature silver-and-black chassis; both its glossy black lid and silver keyboard deck feature a subtle imprint design, which adds interest without being showy. In terms of both size and weight, the dv2915nr is comparable to the Dell Inspiron 1420 and the Gateway T-6836. Weighing a half-pound less than 15.4-inch mainstream models, including the HP Pavilion dv6915nr, the Pavilion dv2915nr provides slightly more portability in exchange for sacrificing an inch of screen size.
Despite the smaller screen, the Pavilion dv2915nr offers the same 1,280x800 native resolution as the larger models, which makes for sharp text and images. 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 dv2915nr'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.
|HP Pavilion dv2915nr||Average for mainstream category|
|Video||VGA-out, S-Video, Webcam||VGA-out, S-Video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, dual headphone jacks, microphone jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner with LightScribe||DVD burner|
The HP Pavilion dv2915nr includes the full suite of ports and connections we'd expect to see on a laptop of its size, though the Dell Inspiron 1420 does manage to squeeze one more USB port into its similar footprint. (On the other hand, the Pavilion dv2915nr incorporates an HP Expansion Port, which lets you connect to an HP docking station.) The fixed-configuration Pavilion dv2915nr also lacks Bluetooth but does include FireWire. We like the Pavilion's dual headphone jacks, which make it easy to share movies and music with friends and dorm mates. And you'll need headphones: the HP's Altec Lansing stereo speakers are clear, but they produce weak and ultimately unsatisfying sound.
The retail-only Pavilion dv2915nr comes in a single fixed configuration built around Intel's 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5550 processor (one step down from the 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T5750 that's become the de facto standard for midsize systems). The configuration is rounded out with 3GB of RAM, integrated Intel graphics, and a 250GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. The Pavilion dv2915nr's performance on CNET Labs' benchmarks more or less matched that of the Dell Inspiron 1420-123B, (except on the iTunes encoding test, which is a function of its slightly slower CPU clock speed). Our anecdotal use confirms that the Pavilion dv2915nr is fine for basic multitasking, including Web surfing, working on office documents, and media playback. However, users who want to squeeze every last drop of performance from their laptops should note that both the HP and the Dell fell behind the similarly priced Gateway T-6836, which benefits from 64-bit Vista and an extra gigabyte of addressable RAM (32-bit Vista cannot use more than 3GB of RAM).
The HP Pavilion dv2915nr ran for 2 hours and 24 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That score places the dv2915nr near the bottom of all the budget mainstream laptops, including those with larger screens, in our roundup of Back to School systems. Other 14.1-inch systems, such as the Dell Inspiron 1420-123B and the Gateway T-6836, lasted at least 34 minutes longer than the Pavilion dv2915nr.
HP backs the Pavilion dv2915nr 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)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)