HP Pavilion dv4-1555dx review: HP Pavilion dv4-1555dx

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The Good Surprisingly robust audio output; mobile broadband antenna is included.

The Bad Below-average battery life; on the heavy and bulky side for its size; clacky keyboard; glossy touch pad doesn't provide best feel.

The Bottom Line As a midsize entertainment laptop, the 14-inch HP Pavilion dv4-1555dx hits some right notes, but its poor battery life sours the deal.

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6.4 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 4
  • Support 7

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

With its stylish, Imprint-finish chassis, excellent audio output, and remote control, the 14-inch HP Pavilion dv4-1555dx is best suited for students and others who might rank multimedia consumption above productivity pursuits. Detracting from its appeal as a general-purpose, workhorse laptop are its poor battery life, glossy display, clacky keyboard, and chrome-finish touch pad.

In contrast, the Toshiba Satellite E105-S1802 suffers from poor audio output but offers better battery life and a superior keyboard and touch pad. Based on a current Core 2 Duo processor, the $749 Pavilion dv4-1555dx delivers competitive application performance. Its use of integrated graphics means gaming isn't really an option, but most users will find themselves engaged in a pleasant Windows 7 experience. Lastly, the highly mobile set will appreciate the included WWAN module to stay connected with out of reach of a Wi-Fi hot spot or Ethernet jack.

Price $749
Processor 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600
Memory 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz
Hard drive 320GB at 7,200rpm
Chipset Intel GM45 Express
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Dimensions (WDH) 13.2x9.5x1.6 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.4 / 6.2 pounds
Category mainstream

It wouldn't be a Pavilion these days without HP's Imprint Finish, which adds graphic elements to the glossy, plastic chassis. In this case, the design is a pattern of curved pinstripes that ends with a series of bubbles and other circular shapes on a black chassis. The Imprint Finish adds a few pieces of flair to the laptop without becoming distracting.

The Pavilion dv4-1555dx weighs in at 5.4 pounds--heavy for its size. The 14-inch Toshiba Satellite E105 weighs an average 5 pounds, and the 14-inch Dell Inspiron 1470-3282 weighs a trim 4.6 pounds. The Pavilion dv4-1555dx's extra heft lends it a solid feel, though we'd describe the build quality as only average. The chassis flexes and creaks a bit, and the keyboard is clacky. The glossy, keys feel lighter than a ThinkPad or an Inspiron keyboard, and they don't have as soft a feel.

The touch pad, too, doesn't provide the best feel; continuing a Pavilion trend, the touch pad features a chrome finish that creates drag against your fingertip when swiping to and fro. And like the rest of the glossy chassis, the touch pad is a magnet for fingerprints. It's also narrower than the norm, measuring 3 inches wide and only 1.5 inches tall, but it does feature a wide and responsive vertical scroll area along its right edge. Lastly, we experienced some unexpected cursor jumps when our hand or finger grazed the touch pad. We suggest disabling the "tapping" feature to eliminate this problem.

The 14.1-inch display features a standard 1,280x800-pixel native resolution. Text and desktop icons remain large and legible, and the desktop space doesn't feel cramped. The screen has a 16:10 aspect ratio, giving it more vertical space than a cinematic 16:9 display. Movies still look good on the Pavilion dv4-1555dx, showing deep blacks, vivid colors, and smooth movement.

More impressively, movies sound rich and lively. Most laptop speakers sound tinny and weak, with the occasional 17- or 18-inch desktop replacement providing acceptable audio output with the help of a small, integrated subwoofer. The dv4-1555dx doesn't have the help of a subwoofer, but its two Altec Lansing speakers surprised us with their booming sound (relatively speaking). We're not saying you'll rattle windows with the dv4-1555dx, but we found ourselves enjoying "War of the Worlds" without huddling close to the laptop, as we did with the Toshiba Satellite E105-S1802.

HP's MediaSmart software presents an attractive and easy-to-use interface for playing and managing your media, even if software such as Windows Media Player and iTunes are more universally used. Also helping is the small HP remote included in the box, which you can stow in the ExpressCard slot.

  HP Pavilion dv4-1555dx Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA, HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, 2 headphone and 1 microphone jack, Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 2.0, eSATA/USB port, multiformat memory card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-F, mobile broadband Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

There are no surprises with the Pavilion dv4-1555dx's expansion options. HDMI is present, which is now standard in all but entry-level models. An ExpressCard/54 slot and a multiformat SD card reader are also onboard, along with three USB ports (one doubles as an eSATA port). FireWire and Bluetooth are absent. Networking comes by way of 10/100 Ethernet, Draft N Wi-Fi, and mobile broadband. It requires a plan with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon, but it's an option not found on many laptops this size. (You're more likely to find mobile broadband on smaller ultraportables.)

The HP Pavilion dv4-1555dx features a typical configuration--highlighted by an Intel Core 2 Duo and fast DDR3 memory--and finished as part the large pack of similar systems in its price range on CNET Labs' benchmarks. In anecdotal testing, multitasking in Windows 7 felt peppy, with no instances of lag. The system's integrated Intel graphics, however, will keep gamers on the sidelines.

Juice box
HP Pavilion dv4-1555dx Mainstream (Avg watts/hour)
Off (60%) 0.47
Sleep (10%) 0.9
Idle (25%) 13.27
Load (05%) 51.97
Raw kWh Number 55.08
Annual Energy Cost $6.25

Annual power consumption cost

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

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