- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

It’s another one of those incomprehensible names - Hewlett-Packard Pavilion dv5t - but the performance is nearly poetic.

Spend $1,100 or so on this 15.4-inch display portable and you’ll get a middleweight traveling companion that’ll rival many larger machines. It’s not ultra-light, nor is it ultra-heavy. Goldilocks might term it “just right.” And “just right” is kind of useful in portable computers these days: I keep hearing about wild and wonderful things from this or that manufacturer (Dell Computer keeps promising, but has yet to deliver anything to review), and then, a few months later, the complaints and the wailing erupt: The promise of a portable is betrayed by poor operation or execution of design. If you want some depressing reading, look at the computer magazine surveys for product reliability.

I’m doubtful that many sad tales will be told about the dv5t, however. It seems rugged, well designed and well thought-out. HP, as will be seen in several instances later this year, is putting some effort and thought into portable design, ergonomics and usefulness. The touchpad on the dv5t does more than move a mouse: slide your finger on the right edge, and you’ll scroll up or down a page. There’s a Webcam built in the top of the unit’s screen, and that makes it a bit easier to reposition.

The dv5t ships with Microsoft Vista Home Premium - at least my test unit did. And while the presence of Vista on a recent HP desktop, the TouchSmart, was a good part of my disappointment, Vista on the portable at least does little harm.

I installed OpenOffice.org’s productivity suite, and Google’s Chrome Web browser, and both performed well. The computer didn’t hiccup, and operations were smooth.

The display, though not the largest on the market, is highly serviceable and bright. I can see myself sorting and editing photographs here, working with word processing easily, and even kicking back to watch a movie or downloaded TV episode.

Then again, downloading entertainment may not be a necessity. Part of the $1,100 price tag is something I’d consider a worthwhile investment: a $100 HDTV tuner and aerial, with a convenient suction cup to attach to a window pane. The picture is stunning and, after Feb. 9 of next year, digital broadcasts will be the only over-the-air TV available here in the U.S.

There are a plethora of options available for the dv5t, of which one, a $250 docking station, will give you extra ports, raise the screen to eye level at a desk, and provide a wireless keyboard and mouse. It’s a nice way to make a mobile computer into a home/desktop model.

I would also spend the extra $25 (included in my $1,200 estimate) and get the Intel Wi-Fi adapter. The wireless coverage with this item is more than excellent, and well worth the investment.

This is a portable suitable for college students (albeit those perhaps flush with some summer-job cash) and certainly for many home users and home-business users. I keep smiling when I see HP’s portables, because they’ve yet to disappoint. Details at www.hp.com.

What’s in your carrying case? E-mail [email protected]

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