The Pavilion dv7 Beats Edition’s chiclet keyboard features an excellent layout with full-size number pad. The matt keys feel nice under the finger and offer a good amount of travel paired with crisp action. As usual, HP is beaten only by Lenovo when it comes to the best portable typing experience going; the Lenovo ThinkPad W701ds is still the closest a laptop has ever come to matching the superb IBM mechanical keyboards of yore. Our only complaint is the lack of backlighting, which should really come standard on a large laptop costing nearly £1,000.
As with the Pavilion dm4-3000ea Beats Edition before it, the touchpad features distinct physical buttons but still offers a large usable surface. It’s smooth to the touch and very responsive, and the well-positioned buttons give a distinctive click.
No backlighting for the keyboard makes typing in the dark a bother
One of the most important elements on any multimedia laptop is its screen, and this Beats Edition offers a good 17.3in effort with a 1,600 x 900 resolution. While lower than the 1,920 x 1,080 (Full HD) resolution we might have expected at the price, it should still be plenty for most and is a step up from the 1,366 x 769 pixels found on many 17in laptops.
Though the panel used is TN, vertical viewing angles at least are excellent. Unfortunately it doesn’t display the Samsung Series 9’s surprisingly good horizontal ones, so you’ll still need to angle the hinge right to get the most out of it. Once you do, however, watching with a few friends won’t be an issue.
Colours are bright and punchy while blacks are deep and reasonably detailed; only the subtlest dark shades posed an issue for the screen. Backlighting was nicely even with only the subtlest bit of bleed from the upper sides of the display, something you shouldn’t notice in the majority of movies or games. The glossy finish enhances perceived contrast and saturation, but does cause annoying reflections.
So the Pavilion dv7 Beats Edition’s screen is pretty good for entertainment, but does its audio match up? Thankfully, the dv7 sounds better than the Pavilion dm4-3000ea Beats Edition, which was good but not good enough to justify the Beats hype. This Beats laptop packs a bit more punch, with decent bass from the integrated subwoofer and a respectable maximum volume.
Don’t try switching off the Beats processing though (achieved by pressing ‘Fn’ plus ‘b’), as the resultant shallow sound will leave you with a tinny taste. In fact we have to wonder why the option to disable it is there at all… It’s also worth noting that the Pavilion dv7 Beats Edition doesn’t come with Beats headphones, as so many of its similarly branded cousins do.