Editors' note: This review is part of our Back-to-School 2008 roundup, covering specific configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.
The $1,499 HP Pavilion dv7-1025nr is both familiar and brand new at the same time. On the one hand, the desktop-replacement laptop is like any other Pavilion: a black, imprint-finish lid, a solid selection of features for media enjoyment, and a reasonable price tag. On the other hand, the dv7-1025nr's attractive black-and-silver case, "frameless" display bezel, and chart-topping multimedia performance (thanks to new Centrino 2 components) embody the continued refinement of HP's consumer laptop line. In fact, we have only a few minor quibbles with the Pavilion dv7-1025nr: for all its media features, the fixed configuration omits a Blu-ray drive, and its midrange Nvidia GPU will no doubt disappoint serious gamers, who will get better mileage and frame rates from the $1,449 Gateway P-7811FX. For students whose media consumption habits favor 2D pursuits rather than 3D, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better-looking, better-outfitted 17-inch laptop.
|Processor||2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel PM45 Express|
|Memory||4GB at 800MHz|
|Hard drive||320GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||15.6x11.2x1.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||8.0 / 9.0 pounds|
We were fans of the previous-generation Pavilion design, and we like the new Pavilion look even more. Externally, the glossy black lid on the Pavilion dv7-1025nr looks very similar to the Pavilion dv9925nr, though the dv7's imprint finish features a subtle grid of dots. The newer Pavilion also adds a silver HP logo, in the lower right corner of the lid, which glows white when the laptop is running. But the real "wow" moment comes when you open the Pavilion dv7-1025nr: the keyboard, deck, and touch pad are all silver, while the display features HP's new "frameless" bezel that's flush with the screen. The overall effect is just a touch more refined than previous-generation Pavilions, although the excess of glossy surfaces means the laptop is particularly prone to fingerprints.
We're also fans of the Pavilion dv7-1025nr's display, which features a sharp 1,680x1,050 native resolution and a glossy finish that, while slightly reflective, gives photos and movies pop. The screen produced rich colors while watching movies, and there's plenty of screen real estate for traditional computer work as well, though the 17-inch Gateway P-7811FX features a finer 1,920x1,200 resolution.
As mentioned above, the laptop incorporates HP's new "frameless" display (which the company calls BrightView Infinity); though there is still a black bezel, the flush surface provides a better frame for the screen and greatly enhances the overall aesthetic appeal. Like all Pavilion laptops, the dv7-1025nr includes a row of white LED light-touch buttons above the keyboard that launch the media player, provide volume and playback controls, and turn the wireless radio on and off.
Like almost all desktop replacements, the Pavilion dv7-1025nr's keyboard is full size and includes a 10-key numeric keypad. Our initial concerns that the metallic-finish keys would make for uncomfortable typing turned out to be unfounded. More accurate was our first impression of the wide-format touch pad, which features a chrome-like finish that, as we suspected, provides a bit more drag than we'd prefer. We do love that HP continues to include an easily accessible touch pad On/Off button, which is handy when you want to use an external mouse.
|HP Pavilion dv7-1025nr||Average for desktop replacement|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI, Webcam||VGA-out, S-video, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, two headphone jacks, microphone jack, built-in digital microphone||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, multiformat memory card reader, eSATA||4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner with LightScribe||DVD burner|
The Pavilion dv7-1025nr incorporates all the familiar Pavilion features: Altec Lansing stereo speakers, dual headphone jacks, a DVD burner with LightScribe, and an expansion port to connect to an HP docking station. The high-end desktop also adds an HDMI port for high-definition video and an eSATA port that's good for hooking up external SATA hard drives. What's missing on this fixed configuration? Integrated Bluetooth and a Blu-ray drive, both of which are available as options when you configure the Pavilion dv7 at HP's site.
The retail-only Pavilion dv7-1025nr comes in a single fixed configuration built around Intel's newest Centrino 2 platform; components include a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo P8400 CPU (one of the new "power optimized" models) and a generous 4GB of fast 800MHz RAM, with 64-bit Windows Vista to take advantage of it. It's not surprising that such a well-stocked system finished at or near the front of the pack on CNET Labs performance benchmarks. The Pavilion dv7-1025nr finished statistically even with the Gateway P-7811FX on our multitasking test, and it pulled in just ahead of the Gateway on our Photoshop CS3 test.
Not so for our Unreal Tournament 3 gaming test, where the Pavilion dv7-1025nr's Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics, with 512MB of VRAM, trailed way behind the higher-end cards found in the Gateway and the Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q701. Still, the 44.2 frames per second (at 1,280x800 resolution) posted by the Pavilion dv7-1025nr should be adequate for some casual gaming between classes.
The Pavilion dv7-1025nr lasted 2 hours and 39 minutes on our battery benchmark, making it (along with the Gateway P-7811FX) one of the longest-lived 17-inch systems in our roundup of high-end back-to-school laptops. The 16-inch Sony Vaio FW140, with its less power-hungry integrated graphics, outlasted both the HP and the Gateway by more than 30 minutes.
HP backs the Pavilion dv7-1025nr 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 tech representative. If you want to troubleshoot problems yourself, you can search through the site's thorough FAQ database.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)