Now that the home entertainment market has moved towards streaming video services and Blu-ray content, there has never been a better time to convert DVD collections to digital.
HP Pavilion dv7-6013tx desktop replacement notebook
It can be considered a laptop to a 7-foot basketballer, but for the rest of us it's a heavy and powerful desktop replacement notebook
- Can be used for gaming
- Some aspects of the design
The Pavilion dv7 should appeal to those of you who want a fast desktop replacement that can be used for just about any computing task, including gaming. It doesn't have a great screen, and its keyboard is flimsy, but its configuration is up there with the best of them.
Price$ 2,599.00 (AUD)
There's no doubt about it, the Pavilion dv7-6013tx is big. For Shaquille O'Neal or Yao Ming it could be considered a laptop, but for the rest of us, it's most definitely a heavy desktop replacement. It features a 17.3in screen, weighs over 3kg and it takes up a 42x28cm square on a desk. Truth be told though, despite its large footprint, it doesn't look too awkward and bulky. It has the same basic design as the Pavilion dv6, albeit scaled up a little, and it also has all of the same traits that we didn't like about the dv6.
Design and build quality
The base of the dv7 is around 24mm at its thickest point and because it slopes towards the front, it makes it look like a relatively thin and sleek chassis. It feels very strongly built: you can pick it up with one hand by the corner, shake it, and it won't bend or rattle — perfect for Shaq. It has a very clean layout that's devoid of multimedia keys (these are part of the F keys instead), and there is only one shortcut button above the chiclet keyboard — it launches the default Web browser. It's a very small button though, and we imagine Shaq would have trouble pressing it.
Shaq might not be a fan of the keyboard itself either, especially the arrow keys, which are very small and packed in tight in order to make room for the proper number pad. We found the keyboard's keys to be too shallow for our liking, but we think it's a keyboard we would get used to typing on over time. We're not sold on its quality though: the left arrow key popped off during our tests. It's not the first time an HP keyboard has proven to be flimsy in our tests — a similar thing happened with the Pavilion dm1-3010AU. We think it's about time HP re-designed its Pavilion keyboards and we also think it should consider adding a backlight.
The touchpad is 95x55mm and it felt smooth and responsive during our tests. It supports two-finger scrolling and three-finger flicks, in addition to pinching, rotating and three-fingered taps. Its left- and right-click buttons could be softer though. The touchpad has an illuminated outline that can't be switched off, and this is one of the aspects of the dv7's design that we're not fans of. The HP logo on the lid also can't be disabled and it's annoyingly bright at night.
One thing that's disappointing about the dv7 is its screen. It doesn't have a Full HD resolution (its native resolution is 1600x900), it's way too glossy and it just looks cheap. We'd prefer an HD panel in this model, especially considering that it ships with a built-in Blu-ray drive, and we'd either make it a matte screen or apply a ton of anti-glare treatment to try and abolish reflection problems.
Specifications, performance and battery life
The relatively low native resolution means you can play games on the dv7 at lower resolutions without them looking too pixelated or 'blocky'. Because the dv7 runs an Intel Core i7-2820QM (quad-core, Hyper-Threaded, 2.3GHz) CPU, 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM, two 1TB, 5400rpm hard drives (Toshiba MK1059GSM) and a 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics adapter, it can be used as an effective gaming machine. It can easily run sports games such as NBA2K (Shaq will definitely be able to play as himself against other basketball legends) and it's decent enough for more taxing games, too — Left4Dead2 and the Bulletstorm demo played smoothly at 1600x900 with medium graphics detail. It is a loud laptop when it's under a gaming load, as it's fan goes into overdrive to pump out the warm air generated by the components, but since you'll either be cranking the speakers or using headphones, this should not be a big issue.
If you don't want to use the AMD graphics adapter, then you can switch to the integrated Intel HD 3000 adapter (it switches automatically in battery mode). The difference in 3DMark06 between the two adapters is 6634 (11871 for the Radeon and 5237 for the Intel). The difference in battery life between the integrated Intel graphics and the discrete AMD graphics is 51min: with the AMD graphics, the dv7 lasted 1hr 34min in our video rundown test, with the Intel graphics it lasted 2hr 25min. We don't think the battery life matters too much on this model as it will be used primarily indoors.
As for the notebook's overall performance, it was very fast. It recorded a time of only 20sec in our Blender 3D rendering test (using all eight CPU threads), 43sec in our iTunes MP3 encoding test, and 40min in our AutoGordianKnot DVD-to-Xvid transcoding test. All times are the fastest we've seen all year. Even its 5400rpm hard drive recorded a relatively quick transfer rate of 42.19 megabytes per second in our tests, thanks mainly to its high data density. There are two hard drives installed, but they are not in a RAID array. (See how the dv7 performed with a Crucial m4 solid state drive.)
There is an acceptable range of connectivity around the dv7's edges: VGA, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, two headphone ports, a microphone port, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot. It has a webcam, a fingerprint reader, Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, but the Wi-Fi module is not dual-band (Intel WiFi Link 1000 BGN), which is a let-down for a high-end notebook like this one.
As an all-round notebook designed to replace a desktop, the Pavilion dv7 is great. However, it could use a better screen, a more solid keyboard, a dual-band Wi-Fi module and an integrated digital TV tuner. It has a Blu-ray burner, above-average audio for a laptop (thanks to its Beats Audio chip), it's not a bulky-looking unit and its configuration is beefy. It's the quickest notebook we've seen so far this year, making it a good choice for the performance junkie who wants a desktop replacement with very fast processing and above-average gaming abilities. It's also a good choice for a 7-foot basketballer who wants something that can be used comfortably in their lap.
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