HP dv5t laptop review: The first place to look for value and performance

Worthy of the HP name. A home run. Some minor quibbles, but so much to like I highly recommend it.

Previously in my laptop buying guide, I suggested HP as a good manufacturer to consider for bang-for-the-buck. Case in point, this HP dv5t laptop with 15.4″ screen.

Starting at $579 (list price) it offers plenty of features, many not even found on higher end models, at a reasonable, almost too-good-to-be-true, price. Even better, with the holiday discounting going on now, it’s not uncommon to find the dv5t laptop on sale for 15-30% off list.

Part of the Pavilion line up, it slots in the middle, above the Compaq Presario and below the premium HDX lineup. And although they bill it as an “entertainment” model, it is unquestionably an all-rounder capable of handling any business or productivity chore, without any over-the-top gaming aesthetics added to the case.

I was able to spend some time with a dv5t putting it through its paces. Did it deliver on the HP name? And how would it compare to other choices including Dell, Lenovo and Sony?

  • HP dv5t Pavilion Laptop
  • Rating
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thumbs up
  • Excellent keyboard and display. Good performance for the price. Quiet operation. Well built with attractive case design and bronze imprint.
  • Thumbs down
  • Spaceship lighting that can’t be dimmed or turned off. Average battery life. Highly reflective screen. Uneven balance when used on lap.
  • Mike says:
  • “Worthy of the HP name. A home run. Some minor quibbles, but so much to like I highly recommend it.”
  • Price
  • Starting from $579. As tested $1,023 list.
  • Category
  • Gadgets and Tech

The test set-up

My review model arrived via drop ship direct from China in a non-descript, compact brown box with simple HP logo. It was easy to un-pack. Although the contents were encased with simple sleeves and cushions it seemed less protected than I expected for a journey around the world. Still everything was in pristine condition.

I followed a simple start-up guide, inserted the battery. Then I opened the lid and pushed the power button and it came to life. I like it when gadgets come charged and ready to use.

My test configuration shipped from the HP Home & Home Office store was well configured:

  • HP dv5t Pavilion Series Laptop
  • Bronze style finish and imprint
  • 15.4″ WSXGA+ BrightView Infinity 1680×1050 Display
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 (2.0GHz)
  • 4GB DDR2 System Memory
  • 320GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 9200M GS
  • Webcam
  • LightScribe SuperMulti 8x DVD+/-RW
  • Intel NextGen Wireless N Minicard with Bluetooth
  • High Capacity 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
  • Genuine Vista Home Premium 32-bit

Nice features indeed, especially the upgraded display which bumps resolution up to 1680×1050, great for viewing multiple applications and windows at the same time. I chose a modest processor, however, to keep price down. You can upgrade it to something like the P8400 which is a popular choice for more horsepower, however it adds $150 to the price.

Regarding the finish, I chose Bronze. The standard Chrome finish it just too bright for my tastes, and captures light reflections all over the place.

Before taxes, this configuration lists for $1,023.99. However, you can find it on sale often for 15-20% typically, and by the time you read this, I expect even bigger holiday and post-holiday promotions.

First impressions

The dv5t felt solid out-of-the-box. Everything is well engineered with good build quality. The edges of the case are nicely rounded, as is the perimeter of the keyboard. The weight felt ok, not too bad considering it’s a 15″ model, but certainly not as portable of course as my 14″ ThinkPad.

The bronze finish is nicer than I expected adding a nice design touch to the case. A small imprint repeats across the lid and inside without distracting. The keyboard is color matched.

The lid requires two hands to flip open and the hinge is solid with nary a squeak. The infinity display option, I suppose like an infinity pool, runs from edge-to-edge, and looks fantastic. Although I can see myself starting back in the highly reflective screen. More on that later.

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  • erik

    hey i loved your review. specially because you chose the trendy bronze finish and decided to include very specific pictures in your review. i too just purchased the new HP DV5T. Unfortunately i am still in college, but fortunately i was qualified for the college student discount. we pretty much have the same pc w/ exception of the processor which btw i regret not upgrading thought i am on somewhat of a budget. i noticed you didn't comment on the compact remote controll that is stashed away in the pc card slot below the left palm rest, under the keyboard. you also left out information regarding the preinstalled bloatware. i too love the brightview infinity display. i too am a little annoyed by it in the daylight as it feels as if i am sitting before a mirror at a makeup counter. i recieved a sony location free base station from my wife last xmas, and watching tv on this display is heart-warming. you also didn't mention how super sensetive those light up media/volume buttons are beneath the screen. many customers on the hp review page have complained that it continues to respond, click sound included, even after it has initially been pressed. im not knocking you're review if that's what it sounds like. i did a lot of research prior to my purchase and i must admit that for the last week, week and a half, you're review really convinced me to shed out about $600. but yes this is a good machine. i was using an apple powerbookg4 prior to this and for something that's about a quarter of the price, the dv5t's overall quality is quite impressive. my freind, happy holidays, and happy new year! best of luck in '09! – Erik, Huntington NY

  • erik

    hey i loved your review. specially because you chose the trendy bronze finish and decided to include very specific pictures in your review. i too just purchased the new HP DV5T. Unfortunately i am still in college, but fortunately i was qualified for the college student discount. we pretty much have the same pc w/ exception of the processor which btw i regret not upgrading thought i am on somewhat of a budget. i noticed you didn’t comment on the compact remote controll that is stashed away in the pc card slot below the left palm rest, under the keyboard. you also left out information regarding the preinstalled bloatware. i too love the brightview infinity display. i too am a little annoyed by it in the daylight as it feels as if i am sitting before a mirror at a makeup counter. i recieved a sony location free base station from my wife last xmas, and watching tv on this display is heart-warming. you also didn’t mention how super sensetive those light up media/volume buttons are beneath the screen. many customers on the hp review page have complained that it continues to respond, click sound included, even after it has initially been pressed. im not knocking you’re review if that’s what it sounds like. i did a lot of research prior to my purchase and i must admit that for the last week, week and a half, you’re review really convinced me to shed out about $600. but yes this is a good machine. i was using an apple powerbookg4 prior to this and for something that’s about a quarter of the price, the dv5t’s overall quality is quite impressive. my freind, happy holidays, and happy new year! best of luck in ’09! – Erik, Huntington NY

  • erik

    hey i loved your review. specially because you chose the trendy bronze finish and decided to include very specific pictures in your review. i too just purchased the new HP DV5T. Unfortunately i am still in college, but fortunately i was qualified for the college student discount. we pretty much have the same pc w/ exception of the processor which btw i regret not upgrading thought i am on somewhat of a budget. i noticed you didn’t comment on the compact remote controll that is stashed away in the pc card slot below the left palm rest, under the keyboard. you also left out information regarding the preinstalled bloatware. i too love the brightview infinity display. i too am a little annoyed by it in the daylight as it feels as if i am sitting before a mirror at a makeup counter. i recieved a sony location free base station from my wife last xmas, and watching tv on this display is heart-warming. you also didn’t mention how super sensetive those light up media/volume buttons are beneath the screen. many customers on the hp review page have complained that it continues to respond, click sound included, even after it has initially been pressed. im not knocking you’re review if that’s what it sounds like. i did a lot of research prior to my purchase and i must admit that for the last week, week and a half, you’re review really convinced me to shed out about $600. but yes this is a good machine. i was using an apple powerbookg4 prior to this and for something that’s about a quarter of the price, the dv5t’s overall quality is quite impressive. my freind, happy holidays, and happy new year! best of luck in ’09! – Erik, Huntington NY

  • Mike Carrall

    Hi Erik,<br />
    <br />
    Thanks for the great note & congrats on your purchase. I'm sure you'll really enjoy it!<br />
    <br />
    Good point on the media remote that's included. It's convenient if you use the HP to play movies.<br />
    <br />
    Bloatware, yes, agree, hate it. Hopefully consumer backlash and dissatisfaction will put an end to this annoying practice. Sony seems to be the worst culprit.<br />
    <br />
    Mike

  • Mike Carrall

    Hi Erik,

    Thanks for the great note & congrats on your purchase. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy it!

    Good point on the media remote that’s included. It’s convenient if you use the HP to play movies.

    Bloatware, yes, agree, hate it. Hopefully consumer backlash and dissatisfaction will put an end to this annoying practice. Sony seems to be the worst culprit.

    Mike

  • dave

    great review – after looking on ebay till my head was about to explode ordered the same model (new) for $729 yesterday. maybe I could have saved a few dollars somewhere but had to pull the trigger as am taking a JAVA class starting next week. I’m not a gamer. more of a mainframe dinosaur. Wondering what upgrading from the 5800 to a higher speed chip would have gotten me. I guess I do have the option of returning the one I ordered unopened if I could find the same model with the 8400 or higher chip for about the same price. what do you think ? thanks deepdave@webtv.net (you see why I need a real computer – just have a webtv now)

    • Mike Carrall

      Hi Dave,

      Yes I went through decision process regarding processor speed. Our test unit had the T5800 and I was unable (yet) to test the 8400 (Penryn). With the 5800 though I found performance more than adequate for my needs: web browsing, email, MS Office. I don’t game on it so that was not an issue. When I do test the higher end processes I’ll pass on any test results.

      Next up though is a Netbook review.

      Mike

  • Mike Carrall

    Hi Dave, Yes I went through decision process regarding processor speed. Our test unit had the T5800 and I was unable (yet) to test the 8400 (Penryn). With the 5800 though I found performance more than adequate for my needs: web browsing, email, MS Office. I don't game on it so that was not an issue. When I do test the higher end processes I'll pass on any test results. Next up though is a Netbook review. Mike

  • chris

    This computer is really not worth a dollar. I wonder if the HP dv6t is better.
    – First, the battery life is ridiculous. After 18 months it’s reduced to less than 5 minutes. From the emails (currently 9) I exchange with the support HP is aware of the problem and will not do anything to solve it. You have to expect to change the battery every year so add $100 annually to the costs.
    – Second, the heat. This computer heats so much you cannot keep your hands on the keyboard. I had to elevate mine from my desk to facilitate the cooling otherwhise it would shut down automatically on hot days (above 80F-27C).
    – Third, the noise. With the heating problem come the noise problem: the fan is nearly always at full speed even if the computer is idle and that’s very noisy.
    – Fourth, it comes with a ton of HP software installed, which connects to the internet and freezes the computer for a few seconds multiple time every day.
    – Fifth, ghost processes. From time to time, the hard disk starts to run crazy, with nothing showing up in the task manager. It’s imposssible to use the computer during that time and it can last for 5 or 10 minutes.
    This computer is the worst I ever had and I had a lot of them. Choose wisely by choosing something else.