There's a lot to like about the HP Pavilion dv7-6b55dx. It's not that it's an extraordinary laptop or anything, and maybe I'm just too used to seeing ugly, cheap-looking Windows laptops at its price, but the dv7 looks and feels much better than its cost would suggest.
Inside is a very good component mix headlined by a second-gen Core i5 processor backed by a plentiful amount of memory that we found made carrying out everyday tasks painless. It has long battery life--somewhat uncommon for a desktop replacement--and all the requisite ports and connections, plus a couple of extras like wireless display and WiMax support.
This dv7's biggest shortcoming is its integrated graphics, which just don't have the power to handle demanding games or complex photo and video editing. If those things aren't on your to-do list and you simply need a desktop replacement for home office stuff and a little entertainment, the HP Pavilion dv7-6b55dx might just be what you're looking for.
|Price as reviewed||$749.99|
|Processor||2.4GHz Intel Core i5-2430M|
|Memory||8GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||750GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel HM65 Express Chipset|
|Graphics||Integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||16.4x10.8 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.3 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||7.2 pounds / 7.9 pounds|
HP's Pavilion dv7 proves you can make a sub-$800 Windows laptop that looks and feels good. Both the lid and keyboard deck are dressed in dark-brown brushed aluminum. Branding is limited and fairly subtle, too; for the most part it's just a backlit logo on the lower right corner of the lid and a tiny one on the speaker bar above the keyboard. I could do without the glossy black plastic around the screen and the matte black plastic bottom, but they only cheapen the overall look slightly. About the only real complaint I have is that the entire thing collects fingerprints, but I'd rather have that than a plastic alternative.
With its 17.3-inch LCD and nine-cell extended-life battery, this laptop is not exactly travel-friendly, and it actually feels heavy when you're working with it on your lap. Then again, you'll probably be keeping a system this large on a table most of the time, so this isn't a huge deal.
The island-style keyboard with full number pad is large, comfortable, quiet, and responsive. It would be even nicer if it were backlit, but it's not. Instead, the touch pad is rimmed in light, which I'm not sure does any real good aside from looking nice; if you don't like it, hitting the Fn key plus the spacebar shuts it off. The touch pad is a good size, large enough for multitouch gestures like pinch zoom and two-finger scrolling, and has separate left and right mouse buttons. Media and volume and mute controls, screen brightness adjustment, and wireless on/off are mapped to function keys instead of extra discrete buttons. There is one small quick-launch button for a Web browser, and there's also a fingerprint reader for use with HP's SimplePass software for password support, but that's it.
The 17.3-inch LED-backlit display has a resolution of 1,600x900 pixels; that's good enough to support 720p HD playback, but not full HD. That's not entirely unexpected at this price, but it hurts its appeal as a multimedia system. However, those simply looking for extra work space will probably be more than satisfied. It gets very bright and has nice color and contrast, and off-angle viewing is pretty good, too. The screen is very reflective, though, so if that bothers you, well, it might be a deal breaker.
Below the screen at the top of the keyboard deck are the system's stereo speakers; a triple bass subwoofer is in the laptop's bottom side. They sound good, and get a decent boost from the onboard Beats Audio processing, but they're not going to blow you away. On the other hand, paired with a decent set of headphones or external speakers, Beats Audio does noticeably pump up output.
|HP Pavilion dv7-6b55dx||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, 2 headphone,1 microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, optional 4G WiMax mobile broadband, Intel WiDi-ready||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
There are no real extras or surprises in the connection pack on this HP. Well, that's not entirely true. There are two headphone jacks and it is ready for 4G WiMax mobile broadband access should you want to pay for service. You can also wirelessly send content to an HDTV with its Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) support, though you'll need to buy an adapter. But, otherwise, things are pretty standard.
The Pavilion dv7 is available in multiple component configurations and you can always head to HP's site and build one out to meet your needs. For the money, what's in the dv7-6b55dx is solid, but not extraordinary. The 750GB hard drive offers a lot of storage, though it spins at a slow 5,400rpm so it doesn't really offer any performance benefits. The 8GB of system memory, however, does seem to help the Core i5 processor and integrated graphics perform a little better on certain tasks.