AMD and HP have been wise not to call its latest collaboration a netbook. Why? Partly because it plainly isn't a netbook, it has a 1,280 x 800 resolution display, but mainly because, had they taken this view, we'd have probably told them to insert their new product up their preferred organic orifice - we've seen more than enough netbooks already, thanks! Don't get us wrong, netbooks are lovely as far as they go, but the endless feature creep (optical drives, HD video etc…) only goes to prove that what many people (not all) wanted all along was a notebook, albeit a smaller and cheaper one, not a crippled mobile device.
Enter the HP Pavilion dv2. It's the first not-a-netbook notebook (we'll come up with a proper term later) to feature AMD's Athlon Neo; a new processor and platform designed to bridge the gap between netbooks and the ultra-expensive ultra-portable notebooks like the Sony VAIO TT, Toshiba Portégé R600 and Dell Latitude E4200. It's a smart move on AMD's part, since there's clearly a demand for such a machine - a point reinforced by Intel's move to join in with its CULV (consumer ultra-low voltage) processors. Until these arrive, however, AMD and HP, which has six months exclusivity on the Athlon Neo, have the market to themselves.
Before we delve any deeper into the nitty gritty technical details, though, we should take some time to admire the wonderful chassis that HP has created for the Athlon Neo. HP has long been nipping at the heels of Apple in computing design and we dare say that were HP to have a similar disregard for affordability, it could give Apple a real run for its money. Thankfully, HP makes machines for every man and the dv2 is a prime example of its prowess in this regard.
Despite the slight overabundance of glossy black plastic on the lid, screen bezel and…well…everywhere really, it combines very effectively with the faux-chrome accenting and HP's funky imprint designs. This impression is further aided by the sleekness of the chassis. At its thinnest the dv2 is just 23.7mm thick, the only blemish being the battery protruding ever so slightly downward at the back.
Yet, despite being so thin, this isn't an unutterably light machine. At 1.7kg it does weigh less than most 12.1in notebooks like the similarly priced Samsung Q210, but then the Q210 boasts a proper Core 2 Duo processor and an integrated optical drive - something the dv2 lacks. Instead, you get a smart external USB DVD Rewriter drive that, despite its modest size, weighs a comparatively heavy 434 grams.
It's also interesting to note that our version of the dv2, the dv2-1030ea, which features discrete graphics, has a hefty 90W AC adapter; despite the fact the entry-level machine with integrated graphics and the top of the range model both get smaller 65W adapters. We can only assume cost reasons dictate this, but that doesn't make it any less irritating - more so, in fact.