/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx review: HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx

Joshua_Goldman.jpg

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

OVR
7.5

HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Nice looking; backlit keyboard; full Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010, Webroot AV software included.

The Bad

Value of included software is questionable; no discrete media controls or quick-launch keys; touch pad a little jumpy.

The Bottom Line

The HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx is a respectable mainstream laptop, but it's only a good deal if you need Microsoft Office and antivirus software.

The HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx is a Next Class laptop from Best Buy. Like the retailer's Blue Label systems, Next Class laptops are designed based on customer feedback; in this case, feedback from college students. A Next Class notebook comes preloaded with a full version of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010; 12 months of Webroot antivirus protection; a backlit keyboard; a built-in Webcam; and at least up to 4 hours of battery life. Including Office is nice and certainly makes the 2045dx a better value. Its components are solid, too, with enough oomph to get you through your courses and its weight and size is fairly manageable for lugging around campus.

However, if you've made the switch to Web apps like Google Docs, are fine with free AV software like AVG or Avast, and would rather have a more entertainment-minded laptop for that $800, check out the Sony Vaio EA24FM/W, which has similar performance and battery life, but has a Blu-ray drive and Intel Wireless Display. Or if you like everything here, you can configure the dv5t on HP's site and get it for about $100 less without the software.

We've seen several of HP's Imprint finishes over the years and some are definitely nicer than others. The dv5-2045dx's link pattern is attractive without being showy, made more subtle by the near-black blue lid color. A silver band wraps the sides of the body while the bottom is a pretty standard matte black plastic found on mainstream and budget laptops. Open the lid and you'll find the same Imprint finish from the lid surrounding the keyboard and touch pad. Although we wouldn't call it stylish or eye-catching, it's a good-looking notebook. The size and weight are fine for short trips between classes, but at 6 pounds with the power adapter, it might be too much for some to carry long distances--especially in addition to text books.

HP used an island-style keyboard (also known as a Chiclet-style keyboard), which feels nice and open with a lot of room between the little squared keys. The optional keyboard backlighting is powered on and off with the press of a button at the top right. The keys are opaque, though, so the light leaks from around the edges of the keys just enough for typing in a dim environment. It's a comfortable keyboard, but we wish the keys were just slightly thicker so they didn't fall flush with the body.

As for the touch pad, it's large, and the matte-black finish is far better than the chrome finish on past Pavilions. The reason it's so big, though, is that instead of having separate left and right buttons, HP used the whole pad as a button sectioning off two click zones in the lower-left and -right corners. Powered by Synaptics software, you can configure several multitouch gestures, although they don't always work smoothly. We also found the cursor response to be a bit jumpy at times even when we had all but the two click zones activated.

The 14.5-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. The display gets sufficiently bright; movies look good on it; and text and icons are highly readable. Like most laptop displays, it has a sweet spot for the best color and contrast, but off-angle viewing is pretty good. Despite the laptop having Dolby Advanced Audio processing the front-firing Altec Lansing-branded stereo speakers sound thin and far from immersive. They're fine for casual listening at reasonable volumes, but if you intend to use this as an entertainment system, you'll want to grab a set of external speakers. Lastly, located above the screen is a Webcam and microphone, which worked well in our Skype video tests.

Again, the software package is a big part of why'd you'd choose a Next Class laptop over a regular retail laptop. If you don't need or want a paid-for copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student (which doesn't include Outlook by the way), you might want to investigate other options in our Back-to-school 2010 retail desktop and laptop review roundup.

The port and connection assortment on the 2045dx is solid for a notebook of its size; there's really no wasted space on either side. The inclusion of an eSATA/USB combo port and an HDMI out port are welcome. Networking comes by way of Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi. The HP proprietary expansion port for connecting to an HP docking station we typically see on Pavilions isn't here nor is there an ExpressCard slot for expansion or a mobile broadband card. However, the lack of integrated Bluetooth is about the only real let down here, which means you'll be tying up one of the three USB ports if you want to use an external mouse.

Various incarnations of the Pavilion dv5 exist, but the 2045dx is a fixed retail configuration that can't be tweaked prior to purchase. If you like the body, but want different components, it can be customized and ordered on HP's Web site. We were pleased with the components HP offered in the retail configuration for the money, but should you want to add more memory (it's upgradeable to 8GB) or swap out a hard drive, it can easily be done after purchase.

If you're the type of person to have several applications running at once, you'll be happy with the dv5-2045dx's performance. For the money, its Core i3 processor, 4GB of memory, and speedy hard drive proved themselves more than worthy at multitasking on our lab tests. In regular use, the laptop handled streaming audio and video well even as we simultaneously did basic office tasks, some light photo editing, Web browsing, and running e-mail and IM clients. We had no problems playing back AVCHD high-def movies at full screen, either. That's not to say you can't overtax the system (we wouldn't try anything more than casual gaming, for example), but it shouldn't have a problem keeping up with most home and office use.

Juice box
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.60
Sleep (10 percent) 0.82
Idle (25 percent) 9.61
Load (5 percent) 40.77
Raw kWh 42.78
Annual energy cost $4.85

Annual energy consumption cost
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
$4.74 
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
$4.85 

At 3 hours and 42 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, the included six-cell battery affords you decent uptime away from an outlet. Our test keeps the 7,200rpm hard drive constantly in use, which is pretty taxing on the battery. You can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use, but long flights might require an extra battery.

HP backs the Pavilion dv5-2045dx 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. While retail shops are happy to sell you an in-store extended warranty, they are often expensive and hard to use, so we don't recommend them.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
773 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
790 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050
129 
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
129 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
131 
Asus UL80J-BBK5
185 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
169 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
174 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
222 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
178 

OVR
7.5

HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8Battery 8Support 7