Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
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.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$799.99|
|Processor||2.26GHz Intel Core i3 M350|
|Memory||4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||500GB 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD HM55|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||13.9 x 9.3 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.5 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.2/6.0 pounds|
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 .
|HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA-out, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone and microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, USB 2.0/eSATA combo, multiformat card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
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.