Of course, one of the dividing factors between a 12.1in notebook like the dv2 and a netbook is the usability of the machine. Fine, netbooks have made great strides in this respect, particularly HP’s own Compaq Mini 700, but there’s a certain comfort gained from a larger chassis that a netbook can’t achieve. Here the dv2 really begins to excel.
For starters there’s the keyboard. It’s nice and large (92 per cent full-size) and the layout is pretty much spot on. There’s a large UK style Return key, while the cursor keys don’t encroach upon the territory of the right-Shift key. Unlike some notebooks the dv2 doesn’t feature dedicated media keys, but these are secondary functions on the F1-F12 keys, comprising brightness, volume and playback controls. It’s also worth noting the power slider switch, as well as the hardware wireless radio button, are housed on the right edge of the machine instead of above the keyboard.
As for the keys themselves, what they lack in depth, they more than make up for with a crisp and positive action that aids fast error-free typing. This is a notebook at which you can happily type long documents, forum posts, blog updates or comments on without feeling like your hands are about to turn into miniature crabs.
Perhaps more pertinent than the keyboard, though, is the touchpad. Even our favourite netbook, the Samsung NC10, suffers from the minuscule touchpad ailment, as do the HP Compaq Mini 700, Acer Aspire One D150 and Lenovo IdeaPad S10e…most netbooks really. There are no such problems with the dv2. Finished in a glossy faux-chrome to match the trim, the touchpad has a wide aspect ratio and large, easy to use buttons. As is always the case with HP there’s also a button above the touchpad that deactivates it; useful if you’re using an external mouse or tend to jog the cursor when typing.
These two aspects, combined with the higher resolution screen, make the dv2 a very nice machine to use. However, this optimism is sullied somewhat by two issues: heat and noise. Even when idle the dv2’s fan spins at a fervent rate – loud enough that it’s audible in a quiet room. And, when you start stressing the system more, the fan moves up a gear, generating enough noise to prove very distracting – especially if you’re trying to watch a video late at night. This is matched by a fair amount of heat and though the dv2 never gets uncomfortably hot, it’s warm enough that you notice.