Regular readers may have noticed that a few months ago we quietly added a Design category for our scoring of notebooks. It was a fairly minor and subtle change at the time but even in such a short amount of time it has become a lot more important, with plenty of new models highlighting the importance of design, both in terms style, usability and portability.
Moreover, if you're going to spend a few hundred pounds on something there's a strong argument for saying it needs to make you proud to own it and consequently look the part. It's certainly a view we subscribe to here at TrustedReviews, though a balance between style and substance is always essential - I'm looking at you Mr. MacBook Air!
It's with this philosophy in mind that we look at the latest offering from notebook innovators HP. Based on the 14.1in Pavilion dv2560 we looked at last year; HP has returned to create this special edition version with a one-off autumn inspired imprint design. Imprint designs will be a familiar sight to anyone who has owned an HP notebook since they're featured on all its consumer offerings, with the dragon inspired Pavilion HDX being another good example. This model, however, adds a little more individuality and flair to what was already a smart and unique feature.
Finished in a combination of warm golden browns and blacks, it sticks to an autumnal theme that's reflected in this colour scheme and a plethora of smaller touches. Thus, if you look very closely at the lid design you'll see shapes of a snowboarder, leaves and even, strangely enough, a fighter plane that perhaps reflects these turbulent times of ours. Political references aside it's a stunning look that's continued on the inside, with a nice combination of shades, swirls and symbols. All-in-all it's a beautifully realised design that's also strangely tactile, with a smooth glossy finish throughout and smooth, relieving edges.
As ever, though, this aesthetic appeal must be matched with good all-round design and the Pavilion dv2699 Special Edition doesn't disappoint here. As Benny pointed out in his original review of the chassis, the 14.1in form factor is a pleasant one sitting, as it does, between the portability of 13.3in notebooks and the practicality but bulky 15.4in machines. This balance makes it a very versatile and desirable machine and though the 2.5kg weight is by no means highly portable, it's not so heavy as to make moving it around a real chore.
There are all sorts of neat touches to the dv2699 that make it a real pleasure to use. We love the touch sensitive media buttons backlit in blue above the keyboard, especially the volume control slider. Another good addition is the touchpad toggle button that sits just above the touchpad, while the inclusion of a fingerprint reader is always welcome. Moreover, there's a general sense that everything is how it ought to be, with audio connections on the front edge and relevant switches placed in obvious and easy to find places. It's all very accomplished.