“The HP dv2000t is a superb ultra-portable notebook.”
- Stylish; solid keyboard; competitively priced; digital audio output
- Poor trackpad buttons; lots of wasted pre-loaded software; battery indicator is not very informative
Black has always been the color of status. Apple charges an extra $150 for a matte black MacBook. Fashion houses typically consider their “Black Label” the highest-end collection. Even Mercedes has joined the club with their SLK 55 AMG Black. The latest company to join this club is HP. Their entry? The HP Pavilion dv2000t. It features an all-new, scratch-resistant, high-gloss piano black finish that’s accented with a subtle wave pattern. The last time a notebook ever looked so stylish was the Japanese IBM ThinkPad 10th Anniversary Limited Edition X30. There’s no doubt that the dv2000t is one of the best looking laptops on the market, but does it have the substance behind the style?
Design and Features
The HP dv2000t is a 14.1” 5.5 lb “Thin and Light” notebook. The “Thin and Light” class notebook has become the most popular notebook class on the market today. It’s pretty clear why that’s the case: the laptop is small enough to be portable, yet has a screen large enough for entertainment and multimedia use. In addition, most 14.1” notebooks offer tremendous value. Going to a larger screen means paying extra for the LCD panel. Going to a smaller screen means paying the R&D costs required for developing a system that small.
The standout feature of the HP dv2000t is its new high-gloss finish: HP Imprint. This is a sophisticated scratch-resistant coating with an inlaid pattern that was developed by Nissha Printing Co. from Japan. This is the same technology used to produce the faux wood or carbon fiber trim in some mid-luxury cars. Instead of painting over a surface (which can lead to flaking and visible scratches), the pattern is integrated into the resin. The clear resin offers a deep, mirror-like glaze to the surface that hasn’t been seen in any consumer notebook to date. Of course, as with any high-gloss surface, fingerprints and smearing can be a problem. That’s why HP includes a felt cleaning cloth with the notebook. Still, a good premium micro-fiber cloth from the car wash aisle at Wal-Mart or Target will do a better job.
HP has achieved the delicate balance on being flashy without being gaudy. This notebook exudes an aura of style and fashion in a way and makes Apple’s MacBook look downright geeky.
Build quality on the HP dv2000t is better-than-average for an entry-level notebook. The screen hinge feels sturdy, although there is a small ripple on the screen when the lid is bumped. The lid is latchless, and if it were not for the mild ripple on the LCD screen, the notebook feels superb. As with some of the other notebooks we’ve reviewed recently, the screen only opens to approximately 120 degrees. Like the previous dv1000 class notebook from HP, the battery fits securely and snugly.
These days, laptops are becoming more and more similar. To borrow a phrase from my last laptop review, “the specifications are par for the course.” Everything you expect to be there, is there: Firewire 400, three USB 2.0 ports, Wi-Fi, integrated modem, 100 MBps Fast Ethernet, optional Bluetooth, TV-out, and a 5-in-1 media reader (SD, MS, MS Pro, xD, MMC). This is the same list you’ll find with most modern consumer notebooks.
1.3 megapixel web cameras are becoming more and more common, and HP includes one with the dv2000t. There’s also an “Instant On” feature that allows you can play MP3s, music CDs, and DVDs without having to booting into Windows, and the ExpressCard 54 slot offering more “future-proof” upgrades than other notebooks only featuring a PC Card slot or an Express 34.
The HP dv200t Opened
The HP dv2000t Closed
Even though HP lacks the option for Windows Media Center Edition, the dv2000t is still one of our favorite multimedia laptops. There’a credit-card sized infrared remote control that can be stored in the in the ExpressCard 54 slot. This can be used to control a PowerPoint presentation, navigating a DVD, or simply adjusting the volume. The dv2000t also includes a pair of headphone jacks, one of which is a mini-TOSlink S/PDIF device (digital audio output). A stereo microphone is integrated into the frame of the LCD – the positioning of the microphones and stereo design helps to improve the recording quality substantially.
A big surprise is that the HP has redesigned the keyboard for this notebook. It’s unquestionably the best keyboard HP has put into a consumer notebook to date. It feels very close to the feel of a “gold-standard” NMB-sourced ThinkPad keyboard. There’s minimal flex over the alphabetic characters, and the spacing of critical buttons such as the Alt (for alt-tab’ing) is superb. The biggest difference between the HP keyboard and the ThinkPad is that the HP’s springs have more resistance and a bit less tactile feedback.
I wasn’t able to break the 130wpm barrier with this keyboard, but it certainly came close and was one of the few keyboards where I was able to maintain 99% accuracy from the get-go.
Peak words per minute
Lenovo 3000 V100 (NMB)
IBM ThinkPad Z60t (Alps)
HP Pavilion dv2000
Dell Inpiron 700m
While the Lenovo keyboards still offer the best performance, the new dv2000t is the best “consumer grade” keyboard I’ve encountered to date. Unfortunately, in what is becoming a disturbing trend, laptop manufacturers are spending less time optimizing the trackpad. While I complained about spongy mouse buttons on the Lenovo V100, the HP dv2000t’s buttons are even worse. The travel for the buttons is so deep that it results in missed clicks. HP should have gone with a design more similar to that of the Apple Macbook. There’s also a problem with the trackpad surface: there’s a dead zone that lies at the lower border of the sensing area.
Our system was configured with the following equipment:
- Intel Core Duo T2300E CPU (1.66GHz)
- 2 GB memory (DDR-2 553 MHz)
- 80 GB Serial ATA HDD 5400 rpm (Fujitsu MHV2080BH-PL)
- DVD MultiBurner (Pioneer DVD-K16)
- 14.1″ 1280×800 widescreen display (Quanta)
- Integrated Intel GMA950 Graphics
- 802.11 a/b/g wireless adapter (Intel 3945abg)
- Bluetooth (Broadcom BCM2405)
- 1.3 megapixel webcam
- Conexant HDAUDIO Data FAX Modem
- 10/100 Fast Ethernet (Intel ICH-7)
- Conexant High Definition Audio
- 5-in-1 memory card reader
- 12-cell lithium-ion battery
The Intel Core Solo and Core Duo platform have become the wonder-products from Intel. Since all of the Core Duo notebooks use the same Intel i945GM chipset, there isn’t too much variation in system performance from manufacturer to manufacturer. It’s mostly a question of how fast your CPU is, how much memory you have, and how fast the HDD is. The GPU is where you’ll still see a big difference (particularly with games). Notebooks with dedicated graphics chipsets from companies such as NVIDIA and ATI offer additional performance.
The dv2000 platform is an interesting one. You can get a dv2000t or a dv2000z. The dv2000t is powered by the Intel Core Duo whereas the dv2000z is powered by an AMD Turion X2. You can configure your dv2000t for an integrated Intel GMA950 or an NVIDIA GeForce 7200 Go. The dv2000z uses the GeForce 6150.
The GeForce 7200 Go is a substantially better graphics processor than the Intel GMA950 at an extra $25, it’s a no-brainer for gamers. That said, it’s always worth remembering that Intel GMA950 will offer better battery life for traditional desktop work, and should be fast enough for technologies such as Windows Vista Aero Glass (given that it’s fast enough for MacOS X’s CoreImage and QuartzExtreme).
Speaking of battery life, our hp dv2000t came with the extended 12-cell lithium ion battery pack. This has jokingly been called the “tumor battery” on the internet because it adds an asymmetrical bump to the notebook. That said, I got 5 hours of battery life under heavy usage, wireless and Bluetooth enabled, and maximum screen brightness. When using typical Office applications and decreasing brightness to a very-usable zero setting, I was able to reach over 6 hours of battery life!
We’ve all heard stories of laptops that can overheat and burn their users. Lawyers have even gotten every notebook manufacturer to emphasize that notebooks should not be used on a lap. Fortunately, the dv2000t remains relatively cool. The Fujitsu hard drive does warm up the left side of the notebook, but it never reached dangerous levels.
HP uses 14.1” LCD panels from several different suppliers. Our notebook was configured with a Quanta LCD panel. We found that the high-gloss, anti-reflective coating on the screen worked very well and the dv2000t had superb colors. The backlight was generally uniform, and was still bright enough for indoor use at the “0 level.”
HP bundles a plethora of software, most of which are demos. HP does, however, include Microsoft Works, Microsoft Money 2006, Quicken 2006 New User Edition, and HP PhotoSmart Premier. That last program is an HP-exclusive program that allows you to create cards, calendars, or slideshows from your digital pictures and make some simple edits such as red-eye reduction and color correction. The software integrates a photo cataloging system. Although power users will find PhotoSmart Premier too simple, it is a useful application for the first-time computer user.
On the build-to-order dv2000t, the restore DVD is not included in the base price. All notebooks ship with a restore partition on the HDD. Although it’s possible to create your own backup CDs, we ran into trouble. Dealing with HP technical support was superb. After using the online chat tool to explain the problem, the representative escalated the case. The following business day, I received a call from a knowledgeable engineer who took care of the problem.
The HP dv2000t is a superb ultra-portable notebook. It’s well-designed and competitively priced with a starting price of $750. As a 14.1” notebook powered by the Core Duo, the dv2000t provides a robust platform for both business and home users. The dv2000 does a superb job with its excellent battery life, superb keyboard, HP tech support, and fashionable design that’s not too gaudy or out of place in a boardroom. How good was the HP dv2000t? I bought one for myself.
- Very good keyboard
- Competitively priced
- Digital audio output
- Can be configured with a GeForce Go 7200
- Battery does not report “minutes of life remaining”
- Poor trackpad buttons
- Preloaded software demos waste a lot of hard drive disk space
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