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Hewlett-Packard's 14-inch HP Pavilion dv2700t Special Edition offers an upscale design and feature set in a laptop with a price that starts less than $1,000, including Altec Lansing stereo speakers, a remote control, and an HDMI port. Our review unit clocked in at $1,394 and added a TV tuner, dedicated graphics, and Intel's latest Core 2 Duo T9300 CPU.
But these are all features available elsewhere. The real star is HP's high-gloss, black-and-bronze finish, called "Verve." HP likes it so much, it calls this a "Special Edition," although the dv2700t is also available in a nonspecial version without the new design for $100 less (at the moment, that's offset by a free upgrade on the Special Edition to 3GB of RAM).
We liked the solid design and wealth of features, and 14 inches is our preference for mainstream computing (as opposed to bulkier 15-inch models), but the dv2700t loses points for being heavier than it should be, and for charging us extra for a fancy pattern.
|Price as reviewed||$1,394|
|Processor||2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300|
|Memory||3GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||250GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||13.2x9.3x1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.5 / 6.6 pounds|
The new dv2700t Special Edition is essentially similar to the Pavilion dv2500t we looked at in the summer of 2007, albeit with updated components. The new "Verve" design is a swirly, organic-looking black-and-bronze affair. While it's aesthetically pleasing, we're not sure it would be enough to sway our laptop-buying decision one way or the other.
The dv2700t felt a bit heavy for a 14-inch laptop at 5.5 pounds. Recent lighter 14-inch models include the Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826 and the Fujitsu LifeBook S7211.
The dv2700t has a nearly full-size keyboard, with full Page Up and Page Down keys--usually the first thing laptop makers cut for space. A row of seemingly mandatory touch-sensitive buttons is above the keyboard, with media transport controls and quick-launch buttons for HP's proprietary media management software.
A credit-card-style remote control that stows in the Express Card slot works with this or other media software--we've seen that on other HP laptops, such as the Pavilion tx2000 and have always liked it. We also received an optional $100 Express Card digital/analog TV tuner, which included its own full-size remote control. We've never had much luck with either traditional TV tuners (poor image quality) or the more advanced high-definition CableCard variety (hard to set up, too many usage restrictions), but your mileage may vary. The speakers got reasonably loud, and were clear, but lacked any bottom end, making them OK for Web videos and movies in a pinch, but not suitable for music.
The 14.1-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,280x800 native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size, and makes for text and icons that are highly readable. We generally prefer matte display finishes--glossy ones, as on the dv2700t, can reflect glare from surrounding lights, but they can also offer a better movie-watching experience. It's largely a matter of personal preference.
|HP Pavilion dv2700t Special Edition||Average for mainstream category|
|Video||VGA-out, S-Video, HDMI||VGA-out, S-Video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone (2x)/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader||4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||Express Card slot||PC Card slot|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner w/LightScribe||DVD burner|
While it has only two USB ports, the dv2700t goes overboard with video output options, including VGA, S-Video, and HDMI out. However, we'd easily ditch the rarely used S-Video or modem jacks for a few more USB connections.
While our review unit was close to $1,400, the dv2700t starts at a reasonable $879. You still get the Altec Lansing speakers and HDMI output with the base model, but you also trade down to a 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 CPU, a 120GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM (there's currently a promotion on HP's Web site upgrading it to 3GB), while also losing the dedicated graphics, fingerprint reader, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and external TV tuner.
With its 2.5GHz T9300 CPU (a $225 upgrade over the base price), the dv2700t is a speedy performer, easily beating comparable mainstream laptops such as the Toshiba Satellite U405 and M305, which have the slightly slower 2.1GHz T8100 CPU. We had no trouble with multitasking, running multiple Web browsers, office applications and media players at the same time. The Nvidia GeForce 8400 isn't the most powerful video card out there, but we managed to squeeze a very playable 33 frames per second out of Unreal Tournament III at 1,280x800.
The system ran for 2 hours and 13 minutes on our DVD battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. Our DVD battery drain test is known as being especially tough, but in anecdotal testing, we found battery life to be about the same. Apple's MacBook, by way of comparison, ran for 4.5 hours, making it a category leader.
HP includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Upgrading to a three-year plan will cost an extra $199. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads, and we've found HP's Web-based support site to be pretty good for providing easily accessible updated drivers.
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HP Pavilion dv2700t Special Edition
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS; 250GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm
Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Toshiba 5,400rpm
Apple MacBook Core 2 Duo - 2.2GHz / 13.3 inch
OS X 10.5.1 Leopard; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz; 2,048GB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 144MB Intel GMA X3100; 160GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm
Toshiba Satellite U405-S2830
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 358MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Toshiba 5,400rpm