With most people's wallets feeling the pinch of late, spending money on expensive gadgets is something of a luxury. So, if you are going spend some money, it's all the more important to spend it wisely. Of course, people's perceptions of value always depend on their needs - many, for instance, would probably see spending more than £500 on a laptop somewhat frivolous. Yet, looking at the HP Pavilion dv5-1011ea, its features and its sumptuous design, the £730 asking price still looks like excellent value provided you want and need what it offers.
A multimedia all-rounder, the dv5 marks our first look at HP's new notebook design and we're already impressed. Some classically HP-esque elements are still present, like the subtly curved glossy black lid and the silver imprint design, though here it's a rather more straightforward criss-cross pattern as opposed to the elaborate swirls of previous models, like the dv6750ea and dv2699 Special Edition. This is joined by a delightfully backlit HP logo nestled in the corner, an effect that manages to be eye-catching but not too garish or flashy.
It is inside, however, where the most marked changes have taken place. Everything is just lighter and more airy, with a metallic silver keyboard and silver come chrome coloured surround replacing the black and metallic grey of previous machines. Above the keyboard sit the usual set of touch sensitive controls, this time set behind a frosted glass-like effect that looks very nice indeed.
Then there's the screen. Here HP has chosen to stretch a sheet of protective glass over the bezel and screen right to the edges, effectively creating a seamlessly flat display area with the integrated webcam set behind it. It's an incredibly effective visual device that neatly relegates the typically ugly bezel to the periphery and it's something we can easily see other companies using.
Below the keyboard is a nicely proportioned touchpad that's sunk slightly into the chassis. It's finished in chrome coloured smooth plastic and if it doesn't quite provide the same tactile contrast as a textured surface might, it works well nonetheless. Indeed, everything about the dv5's design simply "works well". There's a cohesion and simplicity evident that's always the hallmark of good design. Pleasing lines frame the connections and optical drive on each side and no element seems without purpose, either visually or practically.
Build quality is pretty solid, too. There was no evidence of creaking panels or unwanted flex and though glossy finishes predictably pick up fingerprints fairly easily, a cleaning cloth is provided and only real carelessness should result in any lasting damage.