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HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx review: HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx

HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
7 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our spring 2010 retail laptop and desktop roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.


HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx

The Good

Surprisingly robust audio output; slick design; sturdy construction; competent budget performer; includes HDMI port.

The Bad

Substandard battery life; heavy and bulky for its size; glossy touch pad doesn't provide best feel and is positioned poorly on the keyboard deck.

The Bottom Line

Given its entertainment features, relative bulk, and poor battery life, the HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx is more of a mini desktop replacement than take-everywhere midsize laptop.

We tend to view 14-inch laptops as sitting in the sweet spot between portability and productivity. Whereas ultraportables are better for constant travelers and larger 15- and 16-inch laptops are better for general home use, we find that 14-inch models are a good size for your do-it-all, workhorse laptop: compact and light enough for daily commutes yet with a large enough display for multitasking and with a comfortable keyboard. The HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx features a 14.1-inch screen, but we don't recommend it as a jack-of-all-trades laptop. Given its relative heft and bulk, surprisingly robust audio output, HDMI port, and tiny remote control, the Pavilion dv4-2145dx is best as a small but mighty entertainment laptop. Plus, its battery life is middling at best.

Slightly larger, slightly cheaper Intel-based budget laptops provide comparable performance, including the Asus K60I-RBBBR05 and the Dell Inspiron i1545-4266IBU; the 17-inch Gateway NV7915u serves up the next-generation Core i3 processor and much better performance for the same price. You'll also find Core i3 processing in the $729 HP Pavilion dv4-2165dx and the $749 HP Pavilion dv4-2155dx.

As with any Pavilion in recent memory, HP splashes its Imprint Finish across the Pavilion dv4-2145dx, which adds graphic elements to the glossy, plastic chassis. Here, the primary color is a pearl white with a design of thin, wavy gray lines running across it. It almost looks like someone took a pencil and doodled on the lid and keyboard tray. The screen bezel is a glossy black, the keys are white, and the edges of the laptop, the touch pad, and the mouse buttons feature a chrome finish.

The Pavilion dv4-2145dx is a tad portly for a 14-inch laptop. It measures 1.6 inches thick when most models are less than 1.5 inches thick. That added bulk is accompanied by extra weight; the laptop alone weighs 5.4 pounds. In contrast, the Dell Inspiron 1470-3282CRD is a 14-inch laptop and it weighs only 4.6 pounds; the Asus UL50VT has a 15.6-inch display that tips the scales at 5.1 pounds. The HP does feel very solid, though, with impressively little flex in the keyboard deck.

The keyboard is comfortable, with full-size keys that offer a soft feel. The only aspect of the keyboard that took getting used to was the right Shift key, which is shortened so that the four arrow keys would be full-width. Above the keyboard is a strip of lighted, touch-sensitive controls for adjusting/muting the volume and turning the Wi-Fi on and off.

The touch pad, though, will require an adjustment period. It features a chrome finish, which has a glossy feel to it. Your finger drags across it instead of gliding smooth along the surface as you would on a touch pad with a matte finish. Also, the touch pad is centered below the display instead of below the spacebar. The result is that the palm of your right hand will graze the touch pad more than it would if it was positioned a little to the left. We experienced a high volume of misplaced cursors and accidental scrolling. A small button above the touch pad disables it, should the skips and jumps lead you to abandon it for a mouse.

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 dv4-2145dx, 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 aid of a small, integrated subwoofer. The dv4-2145dx doesn't have the help of a subwoofer, but its two Altec Lansing speakers surprised us with their booming sound (relatively speaking). We wouldn't hesitate to watch a movie without headphones, and even some music will sound good, as long as you don't require a heavy bass response.

HP's MediaSmart software presents an attractive and easy-to-use interface for playing and managing your media. Also helping is the small HP remote included in the box, which you can stow in the ExpressCard slot.

The Pavilion dv4-2145dx includes a few features not found on budget laptops, namely an HDMI port. Most laptops priced less than $600 feature only a VGA port. With an HDMI port, you can output HD video to an HDTV. We were also pleased with the inclusion of an eSATA port, which allows for faster transfer speeds than USB to external drives. HP also finds room for a multiformat media card reader and ExpressCard/54 slot. Draft N W-Fi and 10/100 Ethernet compose your networking options.

The HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx features a 2.3GHz AMD Turion II M520 CPU, 4GB of DDR2 800MHz memory, a 320GB hard drive, and ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics. In labs testing, its application performance was on par with other budget laptops featuring a 2.2GHz Intel Pentium T4400, another low-end dual-core processor. Windows 7 felt responsive, though we did experience the occasional lag when multitasking with five or more applications running at the same time. Nothing that would be a deal breaker for most users (and any budget buyer with a realistic set of expectations), but you can get a similar Pavilion dv4 with Intel's new Core i3 processor for $150 or less. The Pavilion dv4-2165dx, for instance, features the Core i3 M330 processor and was 29 percent faster on CNET Labs' multitasking test--a significant difference.

The ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics are an integrated solution, meaning they borrow resources from the main system memory. You won't mistake them for a high-end graphics card, but they are better than Intel's current integrated graphics chip. We were able to muster 18 frames per second playing Unreal Tournament 3 at the laptop's native resolution with no advanced features enabled. Granted, that's not a playable framerate for a current game, but if you dial back the resolution, you can play some older 3D titles.

Juice box
HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx Average watts per hour
Off (60%) 0.3
Sleep (10%) 0.9
Idle (25%) 16.2
Load (05%) 57.6
Raw kWh Number 63.1
Annual power consumption cost $7.16

The most disappointing aspect of the Pavilion dv4-2145dx's performance was its battery life. Using a standard six-cell battery, it failed to surpass the 3-hour mark, running for 2 hours 30 minutes on CNET Labs' demanding video playback battery-drain test. Other budget laptops with a six-cell battery topped the 3-hour mark.

HP backs the Pavilion dv4-2145dx with an industry-standard one-year warranty. 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. If you want to troubleshoot problems yourself, you can search through the site's 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 dv4-2145dx
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz AMD Turion II Dual-Core M520; 4096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 320MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200; 320GB Seagate 7200rpm

Acer Aspire AS5532-5535
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 TF-20; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200; 160GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus K60I-RBBBR05
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4400; 4096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1695MB (Total) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Compaq Presario CQ60-615DX
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Celeron 900; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) / 797MB (Total) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Dell Inspiron i1545-4266IBU
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4400; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 32MB (Dedicated)/1292MB (Total) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Gateway NV7915u
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.13GHz Intel Core i3 M330; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 128MB (Dedicated)/1755MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite L505-ES5018
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4400; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB (Dedicated)/1341MB (Total) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm


HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 7Battery 4Support 8