On the left there’s a Type II PC Card slot, a four-pin FireWire port, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, S-Video out and a D-SUB port. There’s also a memory card reader that accepts SD, MMC, MemoryStick, SmartMedia and xD formats.
I don’t often talk about the built-in speakers in a notebook because they’re usually pretty poor, but I think the Altec Lansing branded speakers in the dv5046EA deserve a mention. The quality is still nothing to write home about by proper audio standards, but they are definitely a cut above the norm. The speakers are more than adequate for watching movies, or listening to some background music while you work, as long as you don’t crave too much bass. If you try to push the bass level up, the sound will distort – the inclusion of a subwoofer would have resolved this, but again it would have pushed the price up.
Obviously at this price point, you’re not going to get a super thin and light machine, but that’s not to say that it’s excessively big and heavy either. Weighing in at 2.98kg it just manages to sneak under that 3kg mark, but not by much. The dimensions of 435 x 355 x 188mm (WxDxH) mean that it’s not any larger than any other 15.4in widescreen notebook either, so you could carry it around with you every day if you wanted to.
When it comes to performance, the dv5046EA isn’t going to break any records, in fact it lags behind the Gateway MX6640b that was reviewed last week – the performance difference is probably due to the Gateway having 1GB of RAM installed. The HP turned in a SYSmark 2002 score of 205 compared with 218 on the Gateway. Similarly the Gateway lead the HP in PCMark with 2403 compared to 2038. Battery life is also a little below par, with the HP managing 142 minutes in MobileMark, while the Gateway lasted for 228 minutes.
Software wise you get Windows XP Home, Norton Internet Security (with a 60 day Live Update trial) and a copy of Microsoft Works 8.0. The latter is good to see and will allow users to get productive straight out of the box – I prefer to see Works Suite which has MS Word included, but again it would have been hard for HP to include this while keeping the price down.
All in all HP has put together a pretty good notebook at a very reasonable price. The warranty is only one year, but that’s pretty standard with consumer notebooks and it does include a collect and return service.
The HP dv5046EA is a pretty decent notebook at a very reasonable price. But despite coming in £100 below the Gateway MX6640b, the HP can’t compete on performance or battery life. I’ve no doubt that if the dv5046EA had shipped with 1GB of memory the performance scores would have been on a par with the Gateway, but that wouldn’t change the battery life. Ultimately, the dv5046EA is a good budget notebook, but it’s worth checking out what the competition has to offer before putting your money down.