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CES 2009: Hands-on with HP Pavilion dv2

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We covered the in-bound HP Pavilion dv2 and AMD's new Athlon Neo ultra-portable platform before the show kicked-off, but today we've spent a little time with the machine itself and come away suitably impressed. Indeed, though Sony's gorgeous and exceedingly expensive P Series VAIO has been stealing the mini-notebook limelight, we reckon the dv2 is more likely to capture the hearts and minds of regular consumers.

Starting with the design, the dv2 will be available in both black and white, while the design is every bit as slim and svelte as we were led to believe. Measuring just 22.8mm (or 0.9in) from front to back, the dv2 is actually marginally thinner that your regular USB plug. With a starting weight of just 1.7kg it's not heavy either, making this 12.1in machine a genuine ultra-portable in our minds.

Unlike an Atom based netbook, however, the dv2 has more serious performance credentials. The system we saw was utilising a 1.6GHz Athlon Neo processor and had a whopping 4GBs of RAM, as well discrete graphics and a 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive - all of which are available options, in the US at least. Vitally, the combination of the 1.6GHz CPU (faster than an equivalent Atom) and the discrete graphics means the dv2 can playback Blu-ray's flawlessly, though this is only possible with an external drive since there's no integrated drive.

Connectivity is pretty decent, too. Starting on the left you'll find Ethernet, VGA, HDMI and two USB ports, while on the right there's a memory card reader, microphone and headphone jacks, another USB port, the power input and a lock slot.

It's a shame that HP hasn't slapped an eSATA/USB combo port on there as well, but besides this the connectivity is pretty solid.

Since this is a 12.1in machine, there's plenty of space for full-size keyboard and touchpad and both are very good. Keys don't have a massive amount of travel, but the action is very crisp and there's little discernable difference in quality between this and HP's other notebooks, most of which feature very good keyboards. Likewise the touchpad, which is finished in a smooth faux-chrome plastic, is smooth and well proportioned and also features an on/off switch just like other HP notebooks.

Given our short time with the machine we didn't have a chance to evaluate battery life, but we've been told to expect three to four hours. We also spotted that, in this demo model, the battery had a rated capacity of 55Whrs, which should be more than ample for a low power machine such as this.

As reported previously, pricing is mooted to range between $600 and $800, with UK pricing still an unknown. However, provided AMD and HP can effectively fit the dv2 between netbooks and full power 12.1in notebooks, like the Samsung Q210, we reckon it could be a very persuasive alternative for someone who likes the idea of a netbook, but needs a little more performance and practicality.

Check out of the following page for more hands-on photos...

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