Not so long ago, a budget notebook meant a big compromise in terms of build quality and feature set, but these days you can pickup a reasonably specced notebook, from a tier one manufacturer for far less than you might think. One such notebook is the HP Pavilion dv5046EA - a notebook that looks good, has a decent spec and carries a brand name big enough to give peace of mind to many consumers.
When you look at the dv5046EA you don't instantly recognise that it's a budget machine - the finish is sleek, the design attractive and the feature set good. In fact you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was a machine costing over the £1,000 mark. In fact, most people that I showed this notebook to were amazed to hear that it will only set you back £699 including VAT! Of course the big question is whether the dv5046EA lives up to its good looks and feature set, and most importantly, whether you really do get what you pay for.
Let's take a look at the features first - what you get for your £699 is an AMD Turion ML32 CPU backed up by 512MB of RAM; a pretty reasonable start. There's a generous amount of storage space on offer with a 100GB hard disk - it's only a 4200rpm drive, but that's not really going to bother too many users. If you want to backup any of the data on the capacious hard disk, you've got a dual layer DVD writer at your disposal.
There’s a decent amount of connectivity with integrated 802.11b/g WiFi, a 10/100 Ethernet adapter and a 56k modem. Bluetooth is conspicuous by its absence, but it’s fairly rare to find a notebook at this price with integrated Bluetooth.
Opening up the matt silver lid reveals a gloss black keyboard surround that looks far more impressive than the price tag would lead you to expect. There's a 15.4in widescreen display with a resolution of 1,280 x 800. It's a pretty good screen with a high contrast coating that makes the colours look very vivid and vibrant. I generally prefer to see a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 on a screen this size, but considering the price point that would be asking a bit much. Unfortunately the lighting isn't particularly even, with the top left corner of the screen noticeably darker than the rest. On the plus side though, video playback did look very good.