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HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx review: HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx

HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

5 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our Retail Laptop Review Roundup: Q1 2009, covering specific configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.

OVR
7.5

HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx

The Good

Attractive design skips the usual gray and black; excellent battery life for a desktop-replacement; big hard drive; discrete graphics card.

The Bad

Low-resolution screen not ideal for HD content.

The Bottom Line

HP's Pavilion dv7-1245dx is a slick multimedia machine with great battery life, but for $1,200, we want a full 1080p display.

HP's Pavilion dv line of multimedia laptops, available in 14-, 15-, and 17-inch versions, consists of attractive systems aimed at mainstream consumers with a heavy diet of videos, music, and other forms of media. To this end, they share features, such as Altec Lansing speakers, HDMI outputs, and touch-sensitive media control buttons, along with mirror-finish accents.

The $1,199 HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx is a step up from the less expensive (although cosmetically identical) $699 HP Pavilion dv7-1245dx we looked at recently. For the extra money, you trade up from an AMD processor to a high-end 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600, and from a 320GB hard drive to a 500GB model.

For the same $1,200, you can trade some hard-drive space and CPU power for better 3D graphics by choosing the Gateway P-7805u FX. That system--our favorite in the mainstream category of our current retail laptop review roundup, has an Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS, which is better-suited for gamers than the dv7-1285dx's GeForce 9600M GT.

Price as reviewed $1,199
Processor 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600
Memory 4GB, 800MHz DDR2
Hard drive 500GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel PM45 Express Chipset
Graphics 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT
Operating system Windows Vista Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 15.6 x 11.2 inches
Height 1.7 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 17.0 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 7.5/8.6 pounds
Category Desktop replacement

The design of the HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx is essentially identical to the AMD-powered Pavilion dv7-1245dx's. HP wisely makes the current dv line of laptops stand out from the crowd, skipping the typical glossy gray-and-black designs for a subtle cross-hatch pattern with a bronze tint, which is more likely to fit into your post-dorm-room decor. We also like the laptop's single, long hinge, which keeps the display from wobbling.

The touch pad (which has wide-screen-like dimensions) and mouse buttons have a highly reflective mirrored finish. It shows fingerprints and smudges easily, but also offsets the bronze color of the chassis nicely. One other complaint: the mirrored finish on the touch pad glides less easily against the finger than a traditional touch-pad finish, causing a little bit of finger drag.

As in the less expensive 17-inch HP dv7-1245dx, there's a series of lighted, touch-sensitive media controls above the keyboard, which glow either white or orange depending on status (Wi-Fi on versus off, for example). There's also a volume slider, but for sensitive volume tweaks we still prefer a physical wheel; touch-controlled volume sliders are finicky and lack the capability to do very fine adjustments. When the system is off or asleep, the button labels literally vanish into the mirrored strip above the keyboard.

The 17-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,440x900 native resolution, which is typical in less expensive desktop replacements, but for $1,200, we'd rather have a 1,600x1,200 screen, which is better for watching 1080p HD video content. The glossy screen makes video content pop, but can cause distracting glare while trying to read or type, depending on the lighting in the room.

HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx Average for category (mainstream)
Video VGA-out, HDMI VGA-out, HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone (x2)/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 4 USB 2.0 (1 USB/eSATA), SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive Lightscribe DVD burner DVD burner

The 17-inch dv7-1285dx has essentially the same ports and connections as its cheaper cousin, which includes some high-end choices, such as a combo USB/eSATA port, and a Lightscribe DVD burner, which uses specially coated, blank, optical media to burn grayscale text and images on discs.

All the systems in the Mainstream category of our Retail Laptop Review Roundup: Q1 2009 (covering laptops from $900 to $1,200) have high-end Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs and 4GB of RAM. Not surprisingly, the two systems with the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 (this laptop and the 13-inch Dell SX13-163B) were the fastest, although any of these are excellent performers for heavy multitasking.

The 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT is a standard midrange GPU, capable of kicking out a reasonable 43.2 frames per second in Unreal Tournament III at 1,280x800. For almost the same price, however, Gateway's P-7805u has a GeForce 9800M GTS--the current high-end of mainstream video cards, and scored 120.8 frames per second on the same test.

The HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx ran for 3 hours and 32 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, which is an impressive performance for a desktop replacement. In fact, it was the longest battery life from any system in the Mainstream category of our current roundup.

HP backs the Pavilion dv7-1285dx with an industry-standard, one-year warranty. Toll-free telephone support is available 24-7, and the HP support Web site includes real-time chat with a technical support representative and a detailed 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.

Sony Vaio FW351J/H
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 4500MHD; 320GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus G50VT-X5
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7450; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800M GS; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Gateway P-7805u FX
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS; 320GB Western Digital 7,200rpm

HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Dell Studio XPS 13-163B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M G; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm

OVR
7.5

HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Battery 8Support 7
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