Shopping for a laptop from Hewlett-Packard can take a while. Not only can you choose from a spread of HP Pavilion laptops that, weighing from 5 to 9 pounds, cover every segment of the market besides the ultralight category, you can then repeat the exercise with an equally varied array of HP's Compaq Presario models that are often indistinguishable from their Pavilion siblings. Once you've picked out a model, a further round of decisions awaits if you indulge in the company's custom-build options.
The Pavilion dv1000 series, which includes the lightest models in the Pavilion lineup, stands out in a few ways, some good and one bad.
It's certainly one of the easier machines to spot in the dark: All of its important control buttons glow blue, making it easier to find the power, play, pause and volume switches or to turn the WiFi receiver on and off.
Its 14-inch widescreen display's glossy surface helps movies pop off the screen. And with two headphone jacks, a couple can easily share an in-flight flick. You can boot this machine into a nifty, simple QuickPlay system to watch DVDs and listen to music without having to wait for Windows to start.
Unfortunately, HP's innovation didn't extend to the dv1000's power supply. It conked out after an hour and 40 minutes of movie playback and 2 hours and 5 minutes of music playback (with the screen at half brightness), a pathetic performance. Only when we employed every available power-saving option, short of blanking the screen, did the machine perform up to par, lasting 63/4 hours in that best-case scenario.
HP sells a higher-capacity, 12-cell battery for just $25 extra (although it adds weight and size to the laptop), but why is its standard battery such a joke?
HP's standard software bundle is unremarkable, except for its inclusion of Apple's iTunes for music playback. Windows XP Home was up to date on the hard drive, with a CD included if you need to reinstall it.
The test laptop came with 60 days of antivirus protection from Symantec's Norton AntiVirus, but no spyware blocking is included -- and some configurations are sold without any security software.
Five calls to tech support were rather painless, with hold times of no longer than five minutes -- twice, we reached a human almost immediately -- and accurate advice was offered. A one-year warranty is standard; paying another $99 will add accidental-damage coverage. -- John Breeden II
Tested hardware: Pavilion dv100, $1,149 ($50 mail-in rebate available)
5.3 pounds (5.7 pounds with power adapter), 14-inch widescreen LCD (1,280 by 768 pixels), 1.7 GHz Pentium M processor, 512 MB memory (up to 128 MB shared for graphics use), 56.7 GB hard drive, CD-RW/DVD+/-RW drive, Memory Stick/SmartMedia/SD Card/xD-Picture Card slot, Ethernet, WiFi, modem, PC Card slot, FireWire port, three USB 2.0 ports.
One-year warranty, one year of 24-hour, toll-free phone tech support; $40 per-issue fee afterward.