So far, then, the dv5 has racked up a fair amount of praise from us and rightly so: it’s both attractive and feature laden and the price is reasonable too. Unfortunately, things are let down somewhat by the screen and we can’t help but wonder if that fancy new glass panel is to blame.
In some respects it’s pretty good. It handles quite challenging grey shades rather well, black levels are reasonable for an LCD display and there’s nary a hint of backlight bleed, but the colour vibrancy, fidelity and overall brightness levels are distinctly lacklustre. This means photos and videos lack a little punch and in bright light reflections also become a problem, meaning you’ll have to turn brightness up higher than normal to compensate – impacting on battery life as a result.
It’s a shame also that HP hasn’t taken a leaf out of Acer’s book and added Dolby Home Theatre to the dv5. It adds a lot of value to a multimedia machine such as this, especially one with a Blu-ray drive – it helps enhance audio from the integrated speakers and does a particularly effective job when listening through headphones. That said the integrated speakers on the dv5, like previous HP laptops, are pretty good. Branded as Altec Lansing, though it’s best not to read too much into that, they provide reasonable clarity and volume and are good enough for some casual music listening when nothing better is at hand.
As for performance the dv5-1011ea is very capable, without ever astounding. Its 2.0GHz processor isn’t the fastest Intel currently offers, not by a long stretch, but its higher front side bus (new CPUs now reach 1,066MHz) means it easily outperforms older CPUs with the same clock speed, like the chip found in the Samsung R510, so unless your demands are particularly high, it’ll do fine. You also have the added bonus of decent gaming performance, as we outlined earlier.
Battery life is reasonable verging on pretty good given the components, specifically the graphics card, used. In MobileMark 2007’s Productivity suite the dv5 managed two hours and 50 minutes, extending to three hours in the lower intensity Reader test. Meanwhile, we were pleasantly surprised to discover it managed just over two hours in the DVD playback test at full screen brightness, so you could watch a short film or some TV episodes without plugging in and a little more if you turn down the brightness.
There’s much to like about the HP Pavilion dv5-1011ea and it comes pretty close to being an ideal all-round multimedia machine. Indeed, the only thing that holds it back and precludes it from an award, is the slightly disappointing screen. This doesn’t mean you should disregard it completely, its superb design, excellent feature set and reasonable price ensure that, but if you’re interested then it’s worth taking a look at one in the flesh before settling on it.