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HP Pavilion dv1600 review: HP Pavilion dv1600

The HP Pavilion dv1600 is an entry-level thin-and-light notebook with a plethora of multimedia features. Its performance troubled us, but the low asking price and impressive battery life are difficult to argue with.

Asher Moses
Asher was a Staff Writer at CNET Australia.
Asher Moses
4 min read

The HP Pavilion dv1600 is an entry-level thin-and-light notebook with a plethora of multimedia features. Its performance troubled us, but the low asking price and impressive battery life are difficult to argue with.


HP Pavilion dv1600

The Good

Reasonably portable. Great battery life. Comfortable keyboard and touchpad. Altec Lansing speakers. Quick-launch multimedia buttons. Instant-on DVD playback. Dual front headphone jacks. Integrated webcam and microphone. Bluetooth support. S-Video port for TV out. Firewire port.

The Bad

Raw performance is worse than competing offerings. Integrated graphics not suitable for gaming. Can’t be configured with Windows Media Center Edition. Glossy screen becomes reflective when indoors.

The Bottom Line

The HP Pavilion dv1600 is an entry-level thin-and-light notebook with a plethora of multimedia features. Its performance troubled us, but the low asking price and impressive battery life are difficult to argue with.

At first glance, the dv1600 is rather staid in design, with a mostly silver exterior that opens up to a black centre once you pop the lid. That said, things begin to liven up once you hit the power switch, and the various violet LEDs spring into action.

The dv1600's keyboard isn't full size -- the function keys are miniature -- but its letter keys are all sufficiently large since the keyboard extends to the far edges of the chassis. It's great to type on with an optimal level of key resistance, and the touchpad is also comfortable to use thanks to the two large mouse buttons and vertical scrolling feature. Interestingly, the entire touchpad can be disabled using a button on the chassis -- ideal for when you've got an external mouse connected.

With dimensions of 234.6x334x38.6mm, the notebook is noticeably larger than other thin-and-lights such as the Lenovo Thinkpad Z60t. It's also slightly heavier at 2.44kg (the Z60t weighs 2.25kg), but it's certainly not a hefty notebook by anyone's standards. It's also got one of the smallest power bricks we've seen yet, so toting the notebook around with you isn't an issue.

Clearly designed for multimedia use, the dv1600 boasts an array of quick-launch multimedia buttons that are located just above the keyboard. These include play/pause, previous track, next track, stop and volume toggles, as well as buttons to launch into HP's instant-on feature dubbed "QuickPlay" (used for playing CDs and DVDs without booting into Windows). Complementing these buttons is the set of microphone and dual-headphone jacks that adorn the front of the chassis, which enables two people to enjoy a DVD without disturbing those around them.

We were pleased with the positioning of the speakers on the front edge of the unit, as this means they're able to project unmuffled sound even when the lid is shut. Another nice touch is a switch allowing users to turn off the WiFi adapter when it's not in use, conserving battery power.

Finally, it's worth noting that the screen uses a glossy finish, which produces a slight reflection when indoors. While said gloss coating also increases colour vibrancy, the reflections will become extremely tedious for some users.

HP offers multiple configurations for the dv1600, but the unit we received for review was the dv1610TN, which features an Intel Core Duo T2300 (1.66GHz) processor, 512MB of DDR2-533 memory and an 80GB hard drive. This is sufficient given the low asking price, but avid multimedia users may want to upgrade the memory to 1GB.

Despite being pitched as a multimedia notebook, the dv1600 uses integrated graphics, making it unsuitable for gaming. It is, however, more than sufficient for DVD viewing, which is aided by the handy quick-launch keys (as mentioned above) as well as the 14-inch widescreen display. Further, the integrated Altec Lansing speakers are superior to most stereo speaker sets, but don't expect deep bass or zero distortion at high volume levels.

Curiously, unlike other multimedia notebooks, there's no option to configure the dv1600 with Microsoft's Windows Media Center Edition. However, if you plan on hooking the notebook up to a TV, HP's QuickPlay interface is more than sufficient for basic DVD viewing. There's also a remote control included, making track navigation from the couch a painless experience.

In addition to what's been mentioned above, the notebook offers almost every other value-add we've seen from competitors over the past few months. These include a memory card reader, an ExpressCard slot, a Firewire port, Bluetooth, an integrated microphone, an integrated webcam, an S-Video port for connection to a TV and instant-on DVD playback.

The software bundle is also pleasing, and some of the goodies included are Microsoft Money, Microsoft Encarta Standard, Muvee AutoProducer and a 60-day subscription to Norton Internet Security.

For our performance tests, we compared the dv1600 to the NEC VERSA S5200 -- another Centrino Duo notebook offering up the same 1.66GHz processor but double the memory.

In the MobileMark 2005 office productivity test, the dv1600 performed noticeably slower than the S5200 with a score of 158. Since both notebooks are similarly configured, the only factor we can put this down to is the disparity in memory capacities offered by each notebook. Even so, such a significant difference is unlikely to be caused by memory alone.

Having said that, our real-world office productivity and video playback tests weren't noticeably sluggish, so the performance difference between the two notebooks may not be as large as the numbers allude.

BAPCo MobileMark2005 performance rating
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

221 158

Conversely, the dv1600's battery life was over thirty minutes longer than that of the S5200 at 216 minutes. This is a big plus for road warriors who want to be sure they can get through an entire DVD and more on a single charge.

BAPCo MobileMark2005 battery life rating
(Longer bars indicate more battery-life minutes)

180 Minutes 216 Minutes

As mentioned above, gaming performance is dismal, however, DVD playback is superb thanks to the widescreen display, decent Altec Lansing speakers and handy quick-launch keys.

Service and support
The dv1600 comes with a one-year parts and labour warranty, which is comparable to the warranty policies offered by other vendors such as Dell. Buyers can extend this warranty at an additional cost. After a call is lodged to the HP Support Centre, HP's policy is to respond to the call on the same business day, while the company promises to actually repair/resolve the issue typically within five business days.

While its performance troubled us, the dv1600's excellent price, top-notch feature-set and great battery life make it ideal for those looking to purchase an entry-level thin-and-light notebook.