Sunday, June 08, 2008

Review: HP Pavilion dv6700t CTO w/Blu-ray

HP Pavilion dv6700t CTO Laptop Review
by seamonkey420, 06/08/08



Introduction:

last week, i eagerly awaited and received my laptop (props to fedex and their excellent customer service!) that i built from HP.

prior to my purchase i had debated on whether i wanted to rebuild a new desktop computer or to go the laptop route and of course went the laptop route due to the fact that i was going to be traveling quite a bit this summer and i don't really pc game anymore either (or alteast hardcore game, fps, etc).

so lets take a look at my HP dv6700t (my machine is the maxed out version) and some of its fun features and specs and how OS X Leopard runs on it. :)  a video demo of vista and osx leopard will be posted later next week, along w/a demo of the hp hdtv tuner. keep reading for the my review!



Boxing/Contents:

HP's boxing/packaging is your typical cto flare.  You get the "quick guide" and how to setup, power cable, batteries, laptop, manuals.  I also got recovery dvds since i ordered them (if you don't order them, be sure to create them right away; especially if your like me and the 2nd thing you do is a full clean OS reinstall and partition wipe/recreate).

I ordered my HP dv6700t w/both the 12cell and 6cell batterries (which really is cheaper if you do buy them together at time of build/order).

Design/Build:

The first thing you'll notice with the dv6700 series is the design of the the laptop and on it; the Imprint design on the cover and the handrest area.  Also, the shortcut keys are touch sensitive buttons and the volume button is a touch/slider; very sleek looking.  the laptop looks like a mini spaceship taking off when you boot up (due to all of the blue lights).  The only real downfall of the glossy design is of course the fingerprint/smudging factor but thats always a problem w/that type of design. 

The touchpad area is huge compared to my older laptops and the Dell XT i've been using lately.  The keyboard feels nice and has good feedback.  The rounded corner buttons are a little different and are taking some time to get used to but thats minor.



Power/Specs/Usuage:

The HP i configured has these specs:

  • 2.5Ghz 6MB Cache, Penryn Core 2 Duo T9300

  • 4GB DDR667 (ordered w/only 2gb since i saved $120 by buying a 2x2gb package on newegg ofr $65)

  • 250GB (didn't upgrade since i can do this cheaper on the side)

  • Bluray/DVD+-RW/CD-RW drive

  • Geforce 8400 GS video w/HDMI

  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR

  • HDMI, VGA, S-Video out, SPDIF output (w/dock), Firewire

  • 3 USB 2.0 ports (4 ports if you have integrated video)

  • Webcam, Dual Array Mics, Fingerprint reader

  • Vista Home Premium 64-Bit

  • 6cell and 12cell batteries

  • Final Build Price: est $1500 (before any coupons/discounts)


Photo gallery

Left side:


Front View Lid Closed:


Right side (notice bluray!):


Webcam/Array mics:


Fingerprint scanner:


My HP shipped w/Vista 64bit (since i planned to use 4GB i thought i'd get the 64bit so i could use the full 4gb) however i decided to later downgrade-but-upgrade to my vista 32bit Ultimate (which does see my full 4GB of memory??)

Yea, this is the way Vista should run! :)  Prior to this laptop, i had not used Vista on new, powerful hardware (my eee pc is older tech and desktop is over 2 years old athon x2 tech and dell xt is not that powerful only a 1.2ghz) and never was able to experience all of the features of Ultimate including the Dreamscene wallpapers until now.  all of the vista prettiness runs like a charm.  i should make a note though that i did do a clean install of my vista 32bit ultimate, ie no trialware/crap. 

Vista was just as fast as my desktop running XP Prof.  Bluray playback is very smooth; i have not tried to multitask w/a bluray movie playing though.  I did try tweaking a few of my video settings in the nvidia control panel and in turn making my bluray playback not work, resetting to the default settings fixed it (phew!).

HP's Quickplay software suite is actually good. (atleast in my opinion, its almost as good / if not better than sony's own dvd/music software for its ultraportable VGN series).   the dvd/bluray playback is very good.  it does require cyberlink powerdvd installed (i used powerdvd 8) 

OS X Leopard also runs well too, i used the Kalyway eval build and iatkos builds and both were snappy.  If we could get the intel wifi drivers working, i almost could have a really cheap macbook pro (same cpu specs/model thats used and memory and hdd; video card might be the same one too).  the built-in ethernet does work and i am able to use safari to browse the web. bluetooth works fine and in turn allows me to use it to get online. :)  bt 2.0 and my sprint htc touch (current) and evdo = even better than wifi, more accessible. :)



Multimedia/HDTV experience:

as most readers may know, i'm an accessories whore.  if i own a gadget, i most likely also own almost all of the 'necessary' accessories that goes with it.  trying to keep with my idea of my laptop being a totally mobile, high-def entertainment machine i decided to purchase an HP HDTV expresscard54 on ebay, i ended up getting one shipped for about $65 (not bad since hp is selling them for $150 w/o any coupons).

i setup my recordings today (family guy and simpsons) and put my laptop into hibernation before i left.  i came back at 11pm or so and pc was still in hibernation mode.  voila, my shows are there.  the way that MCE should work and now gives me hope in using vista as a living room dvr.  the main downfall i have seen so far is that i cannot use both my antenna and the coaxil adapter at the same time, perhaps i am missing an adapter.  also, Vista MCE does NOT support QAM tuner (took me a while to figure that out, so that means you have to pick between cable or hdtv ota)

i also have the small remote that fits into the expresscard slot. actually i somehow ended up with 3 of them, i bought one to get free shipping on my dock, ended up getting one for free w/my laptop and got another one w/my hdtv set.  the remotes do work pretty well. unlike most laptops, HPs usually have a consumer IR vs an IrDA receiver.  in turn they have a more forgiving line of sight (wider band) and work at farther distances.

the hdmi connection is great because it lets me instantly hookup my laptop in my livingroom to my hdtv and in turn have an instant DVR.  the remote works great from my couch and the picture quality is excellent.  i like being able to use the My Netflix plugin in Media Center to watch my Watch Now movies from Netflix.  VGA output is the same; however i believe you can only output to either hdmi, vga, or s-video at a time (but i have not tested this yet).

Accessories:

the quickdock works pretty well except that the connector feels a bit awkward connecting at times.  i have to pull it a little to make sure that i have it connected.  I do like how small it is and how it also has an IR receiver on it and lights and a power switch on the right side.  it does vga, component, svideo outputs, 6 usb ports, ethernet, mic in, audio out, spdif out, rca video out.

SDHC cards also work very well. my Transcend 16GB Class6 card is being used by vista for readyboost.

the travel auto/air/home ac adapter has all the cables required to use your laptop via external power on a plane (can't charge on a plane though), car and at home.  the charger has a button to enable/disable charging of the battery (again for when on a plane). 

i would also recommend the 12cell battery, i can watch a full 2 hour bluray movie and still have about 40% battery remaining, so i could prob watch about another 1 hour of a movie.  i assume that a dvd movies will be longer but i have not tested this yet. i will follow up later with more notes.

Photo of 6cell, 12cell and remote (thickness comparison):


Conclusions:

HP makes a very nice and affordable entertainment laptop that fit this geeks budgets and HD entertainment needs.  the design is very unique but the glossy nature does attract fingerprints/smudges like a picnic does ants.  one is able to watch a full bluray movie on the 12cell battery and then some (i had 50% power after movie was done, on power saving mode, movie was 300). 

the penryn processor is fast and efficent and works nicely w/OSX too!  i would recommend the DV6700t for those w/entertainment and productivity needs. it prob is not the ideal machine for a gamer but then again if your a gamer you already knew that and either will build your own gaming desktop rig or spend the big $s on a gaming laptop. 

Seamonkey Says:  9.5/10 ! 

i would highly recommend this machine to anyone looking for a powerful multimedia laptop for under $1500 w/bluray.

Likes:

  • design of laptop, imprint finish

  • touchbuttons, large touchpad

  • fast cpu, penryn

  • good options to choose from (cto builds)

  • nice tactile keyboard

  • affordable bluray/multimedia

  • nearly comparable to a macbookpro in specs but half the price


Dislikes:

  • touchpad buttons not raised above touchpad

  • not a real gaming graphics card (geforce 8400, 256mb)

  • loud click/static it makes on shutdown/powerup/running on battery
    NOTE: (may be fixed by either updating video w/hacked drivers, http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=18049 and/or updating the realtek hd audio drivers from realteks site (v1.95).

  • glossy display hard in light (but all are)

  • cost of memory upgrades if bought from hp; go w/the 1gb and add the 4gb yourself (only costs around $80, will save you $120 righaway!)


Random Geek Notes on the DV6700T:

OS X Leopard runs amazingly fast on it; my boot up time is about 30seconds from off to desktop.  I have used several different installers and have found that the kalyway works the best. 

HPs fingerprint software is pretty good, i use it for most of my web passwords.  You can setup a hotkey to add a new password by holding Shift and then Swiping your fingerprint; it should bring up the wizard.

If you have a Slingbox, the Quickplay software has a plugin builtin to let you connect to your slingbox in quickplay or in Media Center.

If you use Media Center on your machine, i would highly recommend getting the My Netflix plugin; this lets you use your Netflix's Watch Now feature in Media Center's UI.  very nice!!  Get it over here:  http://www.anpark.com/index.php/2008/02/10/new-vista-media-center-plugin-mynetflix-beta/  we love you anthony for this!!!!

The webcam works in vista w/the YouCam software and will not work w/the Windows Movie Maker.  this is common in vista and movie maker due to the type of cameras/imaging devices it can see.  yea, boo to MS on that; i loved using movie maker in xp w/my eee pcs webcam for instant geekcasts/podcasts.