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HP Pavilion dv2945se review: HP Pavilion dv2945se

HP Pavilion dv2945se

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
5 min read

Editors' 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.


HP Pavilion dv2945se

The Good

Attractive "special edition" bronze theme; includes Lightscribe optical drive; 4GB of RAM and 64-bit Windows Vista.

The Bad

AMD CPU is slower than comparable Intel-powered systems; below-average battery life.

The Bottom Line

The 14-inch HP Pavilion dv2700t Special Edition looks like a much more expensive laptop, but you can also find a more powerful 14-inch laptop with better battery life for less money.

HP's 14-inch HP Pavilion dv2945se looks like it should cost more than $899, thanks to a cool subtle pattern on the keyboard tray and lid (the "se" in the name stand for special edition). We've seen the same upscale look recently in the very similar HP dv2700t Special Edition.

For about $900, we'd be tempted to look elsewhere for an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, rather than the underperforming AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 found here. Still, we are pleased to find 4GB of RAM (along with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista) and a roomy 320GB hard drive. It may not win on performance or features in the mainstream category of our back-to-school retail laptop roundup, but it's certainly one of the nicer-looking systems in this price range. If the battery life were better, we'd give this Pavilion a higher recommendation for students who place more emphasis on design than performance.

Price as reviewed / Starting price $899
Processor 2.0 GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60
Memory 4GB, 1600MHz DDR2
Hard drive 320GB 5,400rpm
Chipset nForce 560
Graphics Nvidia GeForce Go 7150M (integrated)
Operating System Windows Vista Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WDH) 13 x 9.5 x 1.3 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.4/6.1 pounds
Category Mainstream

HP's high-gloss special edition finish, called Verve, 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. What we like more is the 14-inch size, which shaves some travel weight when compared with 15-inch laptops.

The dv2945se has a nearly full-size keyboard, with full page-up and page-down keys--usually the first thing laptop makers cut for space. The keyboard feels roomy, but the small touch pad has a too-glossy finish. A row of now-mandatory touch-sensitive buttons are above the keyboard, featuring media transport controls and quick-launch buttons for HP's proprietary media management software (which, like most custom media software packages, is fairly nonintuitive and won't threaten iTunes or even Windows Media Player anytime soon).

The 14.1-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,280x800-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size, although more expensive models can go up to 1,440x900. The screen is especially glossy, so keep that in mind if, like us, you prefer matte display finishes.

  HP Pavilion dv2945se Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA-out, S-Video VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone (x2)/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

While the Pavilion dv2945se lacks the HDMI port we found on some even cheaper back-to-school laptops (such as the Dell Inspiron 1525), we like the twin headphone jacks and Lightscribe DVD burner, for burning grayscale text and images directly on the face of special optical discs (which cost a little more than standard CD or DVD recordable media).

With a 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 CPU, the dv2945se wasn't as fast as a comparable Intel Core 2 Duo system, such as the Toshiba A305-S6858--but the performance difference won't be especially noticeable during basic computing tasks, such as Web surfing and working on Office documents. Still, in the same price range, there are faster laptops, and we ran into occasional minor stuttering when multitasking too heavily. You can see a trend looking at our charts, where the three AMD-based models in this price range finish at or toward the bottom of the charts, including battery life.

The system ran for 2 hours and 46 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, which is on the short side of acceptable for a mainstream laptop that costs close to $1,000. The 14-inch Dell Inspiron 1420, for example, lasted about 30 minutes longer on the same test, and was even slightly faster, despite costing $100 less.

HP includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Toll-free telephone support is available 24-7 during your warranty period, and the HP support Web site includes real-time chat with a technical support representative and a fairly thorough FAQ database. Retail stores offer a variety of extended warranty plans with your laptop purchase, but they're generally expensive and hard to use, so we do not recommend them.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video Playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

HP Pavilion dv2945se
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile TL-60; 4098MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB Nvidia MCP67M; 320GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion dv6985 Special Edition
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5750; 4098MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion dv9925nr
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile TL-60; 4098MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB Nvidia MCP67M; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5750; 3072MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5750; 3072MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite A305-S6858
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5750; 4098MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 300GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite U405D-S2852
Windows Vista Ultimate SP1; 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile RM-70; 3072MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon 3100; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm


HP Pavilion dv2945se

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 5Battery 5Support 6