The HP Pavilion dv2-1132AX is one of the new breed of slim laptops to hit the Australian market. It aims to be very portable, affordable and reasonably powerful — and it hits the mark in all three areas. This 12.1in notebook costs $1299 and is perfect for users who want something bigger and more powerful than a netbook but more portable than a 15in laptop.
Unlike most laptops that pass through our Test Centre, the HP Pavilion dv2-1132AX uses an AMD CPU instead of an Intel CPU. It runs an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Neo, which is a dual-core CPU with a speed of 1.6GHz. In our tests the Athlon 64 X2 Neo was just over three times faster than a netbook with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU.
In our Blender 3D and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, which are used to assess the CPU's performance, the notebook recorded times of 2min 17sec and 2min 18sec, respectively. BenQ's Joybook Lite U121 Eco netbook performed the same tasks in 7min 47sec and 8min 20sec.
Along with 2GB of DDR2 RAM, an ATI Mobility Radeon 3410 graphics adapter and a 250GB hard drive, the dv2-1132AX will adequately run most office applications, as well as multimedia software, but it's no good for gaming. It can be used for editing photos and even for some video editing. This is indicated by its score of 53 in our WorldBench 6 benchmark suite, which includes Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Roxio VideoWave and Windows Media Encoding application tests.
The HP Pavilion dv2-1132AX is still not as fast as laptops with Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs. For example the Dell Inspiron 1545 recorded a score of 85 in WorldBench 6. However, the Inspiron is not designed to be highly portable and doesn't have the slimline base of the dv2.
The dv2-1132AX is roughly as thick as a netbook but about 2in wider. It weighs only 1.65kg. It has chrome trim around the edge and a glossy plastic chassis with an elegant line pattern on the palm rest area. Its touchpad is silver and smooth. It feels unresponsive sometimes and can also feel a little sticky as you run your finger across it.
The notebook's keys are 16mm wide and 1mm apart. It's not the best keyboard we've seen from HP (the keyboard on the HP Mini 5101 is far better, for example), but it's still reasonably comfortable to type on for long periods of time.
The dv2-1132AX ships with a 4-cell battery. This sits along the spine of the laptop and sticks out only slightly. It lasted 2hr 50min in our video rundown test. In this test we switch off all power-saving measures, maximise the screen's brightness and turn on the wireless radio, then loop an Xvid video. This is a longer battery life than most netbooks and it also compares favourably with slimline laptops that have Intel CPUs, such as the MSI X600 (2hr 43min).
The laptop doesn't get very warm after it has been running for a few hours, so it can be used on your lap without much discomfort. The cooling fan makes a slightly sharp whirring sound, but it's not loud enough to be annoying.
The glossy 12.1in screen has a native resolution of 1280x800. You can use it outdoors, but only in shady areas. The laptop's D-Sub connection will let you hook up a monitor, and the HDMI port will let you connect to a TV. An HDMI cable will transport audio data as well as video, so you can download high-definition videos onto your laptop then watch them on your TV. The dv2-1132AX had no problems displaying video content at 1920x1080 on a 40in Samsung LCD TV, but we did have to adjust the graphics card's overscan setting to make the desktop reach the edges of the screen and make the text look clearer. With three USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11g wireless networking, Bluetooth and a webcam, the dv2-1132AX has everything most of us need for day-to-day computing. The only thing that's missing is a built-in optical drive, but slim laptops with built-in optical drives generally cost a small fortune (see Toshiba's Portege R600, for example).
Overall, we like this laptop a lot and think it provides an excellent balance between mobility and performance. It's a good option for anyone who finds netbooks too small and underpowered and 15in laptops way too heavy and oversized.
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