Editors' note: This review is part of our Back-to-school 2009 Retail Laptop Roundup, covering specific new configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.
The Hewlett-Packard Pavilion dv4-1465dx is dubbed a "Special Edition" laptop for its unique, glossy brown, vaguely plaid chassis. It's also a member of Best Buy's Next Class program, in which the big box store elicited feedback from students about what they wanted in a laptop. In addition to a good price and a good balance between portability and screen size, students requested a useful software bundle and a long-lasting battery.
This last item must be of paramount importance to those eying this $749 Pavilion. It runs for an impressively long time, but it uses a gigantic 12-cell battery that detracts from its portability. The Dell Studio S1440-022B is more than a pound lighter (but ditches the optical drive to cut weight), features a superior keyboard and touch pad, better graphics, while still offering great battery life. Also check out the $799 Toshiba Satellite E105-S1602, which we liked for its overall design, decent battery life, backlit keyboard, and two-year warranty.
If you're willing to lug around a 6-pound, 14-inch laptop, the Pavilion dv4-1465dx boasts a flashy design, useful collection of ports, and competitive performance. Plus, the gigantic 12-cell battery comes as close to an all-day running time on a single charge as we've seen for a non-Netbook system.
|Processor||2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500|
|Memory||4GB DDR3 SDRAM 800MHz|
|Hard drive||320GB, 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500MHD|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WDH)||13.2x9.5x1.6 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.9 / 6.8 pounds|
Like previous Special Edition Pavilions, the dv4-1465dx features a chassis with an atypical color, imprinted with a patterned design. Compared with crashing-waves design on the Pavilion dv4-1275mx we looked at earlier this year, the mocha-colored dv4-1465dx features a more subtle design that HP calls a Digital Plaid Imprint finish. It's a pattern of tiny dots that compose a series of squares. The overall effect is far from overdone and should help the Pavilion dv4-1465dx turn heads on campus and still fit alongside ThinkPads and other corporate laptops in the board room.
The 12-cell battery will get you through a day's worth of classes or meetings, but you're likely to return home with a sore shoulder. With its huge battery, the 14-inch Pavilion dv4-1465dx tips the scales at 5.9 pounds. The 14-inch Toshiba Satellite E105-S1602 weighs in at a more reasonable 5.1 pounds, and the 14-inch Dell Studio S1440-022B shuns an optical drive and weighs only 4.7 pounds. Further, the Pavilion's battery protrudes about an inch below the bottom of the system but doesn't run the whole length (only about three-quarters) so when the laptop is resting on your thighs, it lists to the left. When seated at a desk or table, however, the battery provides a comfortable angle for typing.
As with past Pavilion laptops, the glossy finish on the dv4's touch pad improves the overall design of the laptop, lending it yet another chrome accent, but most laptop touch pads feature matte finish material, which allows your finger to move across the surface with little friction. The glossy finish here feels "grabby." You also leave a record of recent cursor movements on the touch pad in the form of a swirl of fingerprints and smudges. The touch pad is also very narrow, measuring only 1.5 inches tall by 3 inches wide. In the plus column for the touch pad are the wide and quiet mouse buttons below it, the vertical scroll area along its right edge, and a tiny on/off button above it.
Unlike the odd dimensions of the touch pad, the keyboard looks and feels like a natural fit on the Pavilion dv4's 14-inch chassis. The keys have a glossy finish that helps the overall look but detracts from the actual typing experience somewhat. The keys felt a bit too slick, though they do feature good travel and are very quiet. We prefer the keyboard on the Dell Studio S1440-022B. Touch-sensitive buttons for mute and Wi-Fi sit above the keyboard, plus a volume control that we wish was more responsive. Media transport buttons that resided here on previous Special Edition Pavilions have been moved to the Function keys.
As opposed the Studio S1440's wide 16:9 aspect ratio display and its 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, the features the more traditional laptop 16:10 aspect ratio with a 1,280x800-pixel resolution. It provides a less cinematic feel (movies will leave a letterbox), but the additional horizontal lines are appreciated when scrolling down long Web pages and Word docs. The HP's screen features a glossy coating, which helps colors pop when viewing photos and movies but also is a fairly egregious offending in terms of producing glare and distracting reflections.
The Pavilion's Altec Lansing stereo speakers are adequate, but they can't match the integrated speakers on the Dell Studio S1440, which produced a better sound: louder and clearer at max volume. The Pavilion dv4's audio output will suffice for movie dialogue and effects, but you'll want to use the headphone jacks (there are two) for music.
|HP Pavilion dv4-1465dx||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA-out, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, two headphone jacks, microphone jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, eSATA, multiformat memory card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The Pavilion dv4-1465dx provides a decent selection of ports, including HDMI, eSATA, and two headphone jacks, but the Dell Studio S1440 provides those plus DisplayPort and FireWire connections. The lack of 802.11n Wi-Fi is a curious omission; most mainstream laptops offer this faster wireless connection. In the plus column, the laptop includes a small IR remote for controlling the action in Media Center; when not in use, it can be stowed in the ExpressCard slot.
As a member of Best Buy's Next Class program, the Pavilion dv4-1465dx includes a useful software bundle. Inside the box, you'll find a full copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 and 12 months of virus protection by way of Norton Internet Security 2009. Dell must have been a tougher negotiator with Norton; its Next Class program member, the Dell Studio S1440, offers 15 months of virus protection.
On CNET Labs application benchmarks, the HP Pavilion dv4-1465d turned in a good showing, finishing among the leaders. None of its test scores stand out, which isn't surprising when you see it features a configuration similar to the other systems: Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 processor, 4GB of memory, a 5400rpm hard drive, and integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics.
|HP Pavilion dv4-1465dx||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.48|
|Sleep (10 percent)||0.81|
|Idle (25 percent)||9.96|
|Load (5 percent)||40.06|
|Annual energy cost||$4.83|
Where the HP Pavilion dv4-1465dx stands out is with battery life, and it had better since it requires you to lug around a mammoth 12-cell battery. The laptop ran for an impressive five hours and 31 minutes on CNET Labs' demanding video playback battery drain test. You can expect even longer performance under more typical Windows use where you aren't taxing the system by playing a video. While its battery life is unquestionably impressive, the trimmer 13-inch Pavilion dv3-2155dx and the lightweight Dell Studio S1440 come close, within almost an hour of the dv4-1465dx's battery life.