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HP Pavilion dv5046EA - HP Pavilion dv5046EA
The keyboard is well laid out with full size keys and the Tab, Caps Lock, Shift, Return and Backspace keys all large, as one would hope. The Ctrl key is in the bottom left corner where it should be, making life easier for keyboard shortcut junkies. Also the cursor keys are dropped away from the main keyboard, making them very easy to manipulate.
Unfortunately, when I started typing on the dv5046EA I noticed that characters where randomly missing in the text. It seemed that when I typed fast the keyboard just didn't seem able to keep up. I found this somewhat strange and asked HP to supply me with a second notebook with which to compare. The keyboard on the replacement notebook showed no evidence of missed characters, while the keyboard itself felt more solid, with less flex when typing at speed. I can only assume that the original sample that I tried was faulty, but you might want to try the keyboard out before buying.
Below the Spacebar is a silver touchpad with a widescreen aspect ratio to match the display. On the right hand side is a textured area that indicates a vertical scrolling section. There's no horizontal scrolling on offer at the bottom of the touchpad, but you're far less likely to need to scroll horizontally. Below the touchpad are two buttons that respond with a reassuring click.
One thing that I really do like about HP notebooks is the port labelling. OK, so most notebook manufacturers label ports, but they tend to put the labels next to the ports, which means that you still have to peer around the chassis to find the port you're after. HP on the other hand puts the labelling on the top of the notebook, surrounding the keyboard - the upshot is that if you want to plug something into a USB port, you don't have to search around the chassis for one because there's an icon just to the left of the Ctrl key telling you where the USB ports are. Likewise there are labels for all the ports and connectors, including power and the Kensington lock point - very user friendly HP, well done.
Talking of ports and connectors, you've got a fair amount of options with the dv5046EA. The right side is dominated by the integrated DVD writer but you'll also find the power socket, a modem socket, USB 2.0 port, mic socket, headphone socket and an Express Card slot. The latter is good to see, especially since I've only seen Express Card slots on Intel based notebooks up until now. The headphone socket doubles as an S/PDIF output as well.