on December 30, 2010
I would have given this a 2-star review because of the very bad stock switchable video ATI drivers (which are HP's fault since they force ATI to go through them and not release drivers separately) but that has changed very recently.
First off, trying to find a 17+" screen on any laptop for less than a grand is a hard search - it's mostly Vaios and gaming Acers which are not cheap. Not to mention a real graphics card, an I5, 4 gigs of ram, and Win7. It's also got a pretty decent stock battery, which is large as stated in the other review but it's large in the right way, because it pushes the back up off the surface so it can cool without you having to suspend it over something. It's also surprisingly light: with a 17" screen and a full keyboard with numpad I thought it would be a brick but it's not bad at all.
Initially I was very annoyed at the switchable graphics driver which lets you go between the onboard Intel GMA chip and the separate ATI HD4560 because it was very flaky. For example if you let it sleep while ATI was selected, the switchable driver would no longer work until you rebooted, switching took a long time, and about half the time when you came back from sleep on the Intel GMA chip it would flash red green and you would have to put it back to sleep and try again.
That just recently changed however as they finally updated the driver, now it's quick to change and all the issues seem to have disappeared.
I would probably stick to the Intel GMA as much as possible because it heats up quick with the ATI card and most people don't do anything that requires the ATI card, I can watch full HD movies on the Intel GMA chip because the i5 is optimized to work for it and onboard graphics aren't as terrible as they used to be.
I doubt it would actually overheat if you left ATI on all the time but if you're on Intel GMA it's pushing out a slightly warm breeze whereas with the ATI switched on its definitely hot to the point where it will get uncomfortable if you're anywhere near the vents. Why make it work extra hard to cool down if you don't need to? I would say it's not a failing of the laptop it's just the way things work, graphics cards get hot and it's in a tiny enclosed space, on the onboard graphics it's actually much cooler than my old laptop which had a tiny fraction of the power this does.
As far as performance capabilities go I develop on it etc the heaviest test I have given it is Fallout: New Vegas and switched on the ATI card and it works as well as a desktop, much to my surprise. So the power is there if you need it but you usually don't.
Summary: very good laptop for the money, wipe the HP stuff off (my own personal preference since HP stuff is notoriously hard to root out completely, preferably with a format/reinstall) and update the video driver and you will have a very good deal.
If you want an even better deal grab the AMD one for $100-$150 cheaper which makes changes it from a good deal to an incredibly good deal as it's almost exactly the same performance-wise.
on February 6, 2011
I was shopping for the most laptop I could get with a blu-ray drive under a thousand dollars and this fit the bill very well. The i5 intel processor impresses, it has a dual video card setup - one for basic use that conserves battery power, and one for "gaming." Overall, I do like this laptop but it does have a few niggles I would like to mention.
1) The touchpad is horrible. Use a mouse. I constantly battle the stupid thing.
2) The blu-ray drive is very difficult to open/eject. Crazy as this sounds, the eject button is tiny and you have to press it in deeply with your fingernail or it just won't eject. I find it easier to right mouse on the drive in "My Computer" and select Eject from the menu. Come on HP! Give me a simple, larger button to press to open the optical drive.
3) The battery is a large 9-cell that has a large hump at the bottom. It nicely props up the laptop on a desk, but it is heavy, doesn't allow a nice flat profile to place in a bag/backpack, and doesn't even get close to the advertised battery life. I'd like to order a flat 6-cell version but if this one doesn't last that long, I'd hate to see how the "little" battery performs.
4) A lot of HP "Junk software" loaded on this thing. Takes time to uninstall it all.
5) No restore DVD included in the box.
6) HP accessories like extra batteries or AC/Auto power adapters are quite expensive.
1) Plays blu-rays on my flatscreens with 1 HDMI cable and all the included software works great. Or hook up the VGA cable and use the headphone jack.
2) The large 17.3" screen is awesome, bright, and very crisp and clear.
3) I haven't really tested the processing power but this thing rates very well on the Microsoft Windows 7 performance scale. All my programs launch quickly and it is a pleasure to work on. This has replaced an AMD Dual core 2.8 Ghz desktop PC as my "workhorse" everyday computer.
4) I love the fingerprint reader.
All-in-all I rate this a good buy and would certainly purchase it again.
on February 27, 2011
There's really not a great deal to say about a laptop that works well enough for what you want to do. The performance is good enough for what I do, the low power graphics card will play back a BluRay DVD without any problems. The audio may not be audiophile rated but it is adequate for normal use, better than old PC speakers, better than many current laptops. The battery life doing what I do is not near 8 hours but it is certainly over 4. We recently took the train from the San Francisco bay area (Emeryville) to Denver, the roomette only had one power outlet and we didn't have a power strip. We both had laptops rated around 8 hours battery life and we didn't end up fighting over the power outlet. You might not get a whole day at college out of this, but if you can charge it up at lunch then it should be OK. Swapping between video drivers on swapping between internal and external power has also worked fine.
I have no idea how well the wired Ethernet works, the WiFi is OK, many WiFi implementations have driver oddness and utility issues that make them difficult to use in the real world, the WiFi on this works well enough. WiFi sensitivity is also at least up to typical PC standards, though not as good as a high gain external adapter.
Installing Ubuntu Linux was trivial, I downloaded and installed from the Windows application that does all the necessary disk changes for you without destroying the Windows 7 installation. I use Linux about 75% of the time, it comes up and shuts down a lot faster than Windows and that is often important to me. Linux always shuts down in 7 seconds, Win 7 sometimes finds a reason to still be on next morning or when I pull it out of my backpack where I foolishly stuck it after it agreed to shut down. The wireless connectivity and hardware support seems to be seamless in Linux. I did need a wired connection to install the Broadcom wireless radio driver, fortunately I was in a hotel when I did that (having just discovered Windows had not shut down in Vancouver BC and was still running when we got to Seattle WA that afternoon) so I guess I do know the wired network works.
My favorite feature is the finger print reader, the biggest waste of space for me is the camera. I'd have very happily traded the camera for bluetooth.
Is it perfect? No. Knowing how reflective the screen is now I'd have probably searched for an anti glare screen, or at least one where dark areas don't act like a mirror. Most of the time I don't notice. The touch pad is OK most of the time and is very easy to disable, when off I'd like to use a Bluetooth mouse, because then the interface can do double duty for the cell phone and headphones too. It would be nice if they had gone the extra $5 to include a Bluetooth interface. The HP video player works better than other alternatives when the external power is plugged in and the fast graphics card is on-line, but it is refusing to start when on battery power. VLC, Windows Media Player and Winamp all still work, so no big deal, but HP should sort out their bug. If I plug in the Bluetooth dongle in on the right the BIOS complains about it, on the left it works fine. What? I'd prefer full size arrow keys, whatever they need to do to achieve that. The half sized up and down arrows may seem like a smart idea but somewhere someone needs a smack round the head for that decision. I'd rather have the page up/down and arrow keys full size and normal location and lose the numeric pad than have the up and down arrow and page buttons be almost useless. But none of these problems are particularly significant.
on March 3, 2011
I purchased the Dv7-4180us as a replacement for my desktop. It's actually a good laptop. The 650gb hard drive (which is actually about 580 usable) is more than enough. The RAM is more than decent and the ATI HD 5650 does it's share of work and has no problems running most of today's games. The 17" display is amazing and is quite light compared to what you'd expect from something of it's size. The design looks and feels good, it is a bit flexible because of the light aluminum HP used but it seems less like a cheap shortcut and more like a method to keep the weight down cause it is a good sized laptop. I personally have had no issues with the switchable graphics and most of the time never even notice the switching, there's also many settings you can use to help control the switching as well as easy to set Hotkeys to quickly control it. The blue-ray drive works just fine and has no problems nor has there been any problems from DVDs and CD-Roms. And after being on Vista for the last couple years this Windows 7 is a huge relief.
Now of course if you're looking for something that is just going to "wow" and "amaze" it's best to keep looking but if your looking for something better than most other laptop's, quite powerful, decent gaming and stylish then this is one to consider.
The only Con's are the Beats Audio System is a bit over-hyped, it is good in comparison to other's but it's not as great as claimed. Definitly something to get you by happily but not something that's going to outperform. I was also a bit disappointed in the lack of preset equalizer settings but after some messing around with it it's not so bad.
The most irritating thing (and I think many agree on this) is the touch/mouse pad. HP could have really given it a second thought. It takes quite a bit getting used to and the buttons are just unreasonably stiff. The feel of it will also have you looking down every now and then checking where your fingers are. It's manageable but I recommend purchasing a mouse to go with this.
Overall I think it's a great laptop and well worth the price. I've owned a few Gateway's & Dell XPS's, an eMachine, and a Mac. This is my first HP and so far has been my favorite among them all.
on March 15, 2011
(My dad bought this comp with his Amazon account, but I'm using my own account to write the review).
I'm a college student, buying this to replace my 15.0" Dell Inspiron (bought that one in 2005/2006). I use my laptop daily, and use it as a workhorse, from everything work-related, to downloading/streaming movies, to playing games for hours and hours on end.
I've only had the laptop for two days, but I'll edit my review if anything big comes up.
Many of the things have already been mentioned by other reviewers.
*Very powerful computer. From the looks of things, this computer will work very well for my needs, which is essentially everything (My computer is generally on for 4-5 days at a time, often more). Applications open instantly. Transferring my old laptop stuff to my external hard drive took about 2 hours for my music folder alone. Transferring my music folder from the external hard drive to the laptop took 25 minutes. (41 GB of music).
*Amazing screen. This screen (and I'm coming from a 15" laptop) is outstanding. I'm not only referring to the size/ratio (widescreen), but I'm also referring to the crispness/resolution. It's also VERY bright (the brightness is adjustable with one press of the keyboard (f2/f3).
*Keyboard has a full numpad on it.
*For a big laptop like this, the weight is manageable. I wouldn't go so far as to call it light, but it's not as bad as I expected it would be.
*A lot of "useless" HP software preloaded (hard to get rid of).
*The open/close button on the optical/Blu-Ray drive is ridiculously small and hard to press.
*Touchpad...It's as bad as everyone else has claimed. The touchpad will definitely take getting used to. Single touch isn't bad. It's what you would expect. Multi-touch, on the other hand (zooming and scrolling) is horrendous. Maybe it's just me comparing my experience to the Mac touchpad, but for zooming/scrolling, this touchpad will not get the job done for you easily. Maybe it's just an issue of setting the right sensitivity to the touchpad, but it will take getting used to.
*Maybe I'm just picky or used to my Dell laptop, but the hole where you put the ethernet cable and adapter cable is on the side of the laptop (instead of the back).
*Using the volume controls on the keyboard will interrupt your full-screen experience. With my Dell laptop, when I used the volume control buttons that are physically on the laptop, they never interrupted my full-screen experience (from movies to games and everything else). With this HP laptop, pressing the keys to control volume will minimize your game or pull you off of full-screen mode in the case of a movie. That will get annoying for me, I know this for a fact.
*(Applies esp to gamers) When you're playing a game that uses the WASD controls, the area where you put your left wrist will become very hot (and not because you just have your wrist there).
Pro/Con (Depends on how you look at it):
*Battery shape. The battery is not particularly large or heavy. It's just awkwardly shaped. If you're looking to carry your laptop in a backpack/purse (I have yet to see a classmate lug a 17 inch laptop to lecture), you (likely) won't enjoy the fact that the battery protrudes out of the computer in an awkward fashion. However, the protrusion does help keep the laptop cooler by propping it up on the bottom when it's set down on a table/surface.
Overall, I'd say that the laptop is well worth the price. For a powerful laptop (640GB harddrive, 17+" widescreen, 4GB RAM, Windows7, etc), this is a great buy given that it's under 1000 bucks.
That's all I can think of for now. If I come across a big pro or con or want to take back something I said, I'll edit the review accordingly.
EDIT (Jan 30, 2012): Charger for the computer died. Go figure.
EDIT (Feb 3, 2012): Bought this for 12 bucks and it's charging again. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004P8FATE/
EDIT (June 1, 2012): Remember how I mentioned that the area (where your left wrist goes when playing a WASD-control game) becomes very hot? Well, I should note that in the three month span between March 2012 and the end of May 2012, every time I played a game, I put a 200-page paperback book between my left wrist and the laptop because it was scalding hot. After three months, the book's cover has literally melted. The plastic has MELTED. In addition, I've started connecting my laptop to an external 32-inch screen via HDMI on a full-time basis. When I play my MMO games now, it takes less than 20 minutes since starting the game that the laptop goes into auto-hibernation or simply crashes/turns off due to overheating. (Like seriously, that's the screen that comes up when I get out of auto-hibernation mode...the BIOS says that the system overheated and it turned off to protect it). This is NOT a gaming computer whatsoever. I am never purchasing an HP laptop ever again. First and last one. Rating changed from 2 stars to 1 star.
EDIT (Dec 26, 2012): Just some final notes. Likely to be my last edit for this product. I did some research on the HP laptop overheating problem, and it's an issue that HP has long known about (and lost a class action lawsuit for). And I'm pretty sure that their newer models still have a slight overheating issue still....So this is, without a doubt, my first and last HP laptop ever. Saw some commercials for HP touch-screen desktops...Will probably avoid those too, just because.
Getting a new laptop. It's a Dell 15.3'' (downgrading in size, I know, but I need the extra portability right now) touchsreen ultrabook laptop. I should also point out that the specs for this laptop are now considered outdated, so if you are reading this, you should not be paying more than $300 for one of these (personally I'd say it's not worth more than $100 given how far the cons outweigh the pros). The standard for the $900-$1200 range laptops is now 8GB RAM and Intel core-i7.
Wish you the best of luck in finding your next laptop!