Introduction

2007 has been pretty exciting in the world of computers so far; we've seen new graphics cards, processors, and various platform launches -- and there's plenty more to come in those areas. Perhaps more significantly is that we've got a shiny new operating system from Microsoft, Windows Vista. Unfortunately, new doesn't necessarily mean better, and in the case of computer benchmarks this new operating system is proving to be particularly irksome. It's not that Windows Vista is slow, but rather that there are certain benchmark suites we've used in the past that simply refuse to run on Windows Vista. As such, we're going to have to rework some of our mobility performance tests and we are embarking on that journey today with our review of the Hewlett Packard dv6500t notebook.

As one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world, HP is able to offer an extensive line of desktop and notebook computers, as well as various peripherals. Their products generally don't cater to computer enthusiasts, but for your average home user and more importantly for many businesses, HP's offerings are going to be used by a huge number of people. Depending on your needs, their latest Santa Rosa-based notebook might be just what you're looking for.

Putting together product reviews often presents some difficulties. While we would love to be able to go out and review every product on the planet, the reality is that we often require help from manufacturers in order to get equipment to evaluate. The more expensive the product, the more difficult it can become to acquire review samples. In the end, we review what we can and even when we don't necessarily have directly competing products to compare for comparison we hope to at least provide an in-depth analysis of the hardware we are sent. Very few items are able to satisfy every user out there, so two of our primary considerations are: what is the intended market for a product, and how well does it do in meeting the needs of the target market?


The HP dv6500t is only being offered with Windows Vista, so even if we were able to get Windows XP to run on the laptop such benchmarks would be largely meaningless. However, this is the first laptop we've tested using Windows Vista, so in some areas we will be unable to directly compare results to previous laptops. Also keep in mind that Windows Vista does impact performance differently than Windows XP, so even when we do have results from other laptops, at this point we're dealing in apples-to-oranges comparisons. That's okay, though, since in the world of mobile computers pure performance is rarely the most important factor people look at when shopping for a new notebook.

Many of the notebooks we have been sent in the past are definitely slanted a bit more towards the gaming market, and while that's fine for gamers there are drawbacks to such notebooks for other users. A gaming notebook typically requires a powerful graphics chip, and inevitably that increases power requirements and reduces battery life. Some people are okay with making that compromise, but for most mobile users one of the major reasons to get a notebook in the first place is so that you can use it away from your desk. More to the point, even the fastest notebook out there is still easily surpassed by a decent desktop system, and high-performance notebooks don't come cheap. Rather than picking up an ultra powerful $4000+ notebook, it's often better to purchase a decent laptop as well as a desktop system; spending about $2000 on each of those will usually result in a better overall computing experience. (If you still prefer an ultra high-end laptop, though, don't worry -- we'll be taking a look at just such an offering in the near future.)

That leads us to the star of today's review, the HP dv6500t. This is a generally no-frills notebook that is more than able to handle whatever computing task you might want to throw at it, short of gaming and perhaps a few high-performance applications. In that respect, it's a lot like driving a minivan. It will help you cart your kids around, but it's not quite as exciting to drive as the latest sports car. The dv6500t is part of HP's Entertainment notebook line for home and home-office users, though it would have no difficulty functioning in a business environment as well. Let's take a closer look.

HP dv6500t Specifications and Features
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  • Procurion - Sunday, June 24, 2007 - link

    Having bought a Sager after a LOT of research(and an RMA'd Ferrari-Acer, lol, not the car) I question the quest for extreme resolution. My laptop has a native 1900x1200 screen which I consider unuseable on a 17" screen....1024x768 puts a LOT of info on screens and I wonder why the preoccupation with "ultra resolution"? If this is a casual use/business use type of laptop, those high rez settings aren't necessary at all. Either that or my 40-something bespectacled eyes just ain't cuttin' it anymore...:) Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, June 25, 2007 - link

    Personally, I consider 1024x768 the bare minimum - I can't fit as much on the screen as I like. My Thinkpad has a 1400x1050 15" screen that I consider about perfect. As mentioned, the good thing is that both 1024x768 and 1600x1200 are available in the same screen size.

    On a side note, Lenovo still has T60s with Flexview IPS screens - we just bought one for work. They might not want to send one out for review though as word has it that the T61 will not be available with Flexview and will be hard to get with a 4:3 ration screen at all.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, June 24, 2007 - link

    I don't have a huge problem with the resolution - it's *okay* - but it would be nice to have options. Regardless, the quality of the display is not at all good compared to a lot of other recent laptops. Ideally, users should be able to choose from more than one screen config, but that's often limited to more expensive notebook models. Running Windows Vista, I feel 1280x800 is cramped, 1440x900 is passable, and 1680x1050 given enough room to make me happy. Then again, I run a 30" desktop LCD at 2560x1600.... :) Reply
  • Procurion - Monday, June 25, 2007 - link

    Point taken about the need for some options rather than "one size fits all"-as a matter of fact my post was inspired because my needs/resolutions are different than, say, yours. As you and several other authors here have pointed out in the past, for the costs involved it is beyond me why the manufacturers put some really awful screens out there on their laptops....After opening a laptop up and booting it, what is the first thing that makes an impression? And you have to look at it every time you use the damn thing? LOL... Reply
  • legoman666 - Saturday, June 23, 2007 - link

    You know... you could get rid of all the problems with your benchmarking programs not working on Vista by simply uninstalling it and installing Windows XP instead. My sister (not a big computer person) just bought a new laptop. The FIRST thing she and I did when it arrived was uninstall Vista and put XP on it.

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 23, 2007 - link

    Which requires finding drivers for the chipset and slipstreaming them onto an XP CD. There's no floppy drive with this laptop. Anyway, like it or not, 95% of new PCs are going to be coming with Vista installed most likely, and I would say the number of people that plan on wiping the drive and installing XP instead is going to be very limited. Reply
  • legoman666 - Sunday, June 24, 2007 - link

    What do you mean you'd have to slipstream the chipset drivers into the windows installation? I've isntalled windows countless times on many different machines and I have never had to do such a thing. I just isntall windows normally, then once it's installed, I install all the drivers. It really isn't difficult... Nor would you need a floppy drive unless you plan on installing windows onto a RAID array. I don't mean to sound rude or anything, but neither of those arguments are really valid. Although, the bit about people not uninstalling Vista in favor of XP is probably true... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, June 24, 2007 - link

    I booted up off of the XP CD (see, I really did try to install XP), but because the hard drive is SATA XP apparently wasn't able to see it. I got the dreaded "No hard drives detected" error message, and that was pretty much it for my XP attempt.

    See, the BIOS lacks any options to set/change the SATA mode and so it appears to be running as an AHCI SATA drive. That setting generally requires drivers on a floppy in order to work (in my experience). HP isn't selling the laptop with XP, and they don't intend to support such a configuration. That being the case, why spend time trying to work around a limitation in order to test something most people aren't planning on using?

    If you want a laptop with XP, you'd be far better off purchasing a laptop that comes that way. There are still plenty of those available.
    Reply
  • NoGodForMe - Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - link

    Jarred is correct about slip streaming the drivers to boot XP. I have created a guide with step by step instructions to installing XP on the DV6500T. I can run XP or Vista. This laptop is a good all around performer. Not the fastest, but does everything needed and is really great with XP on it. I installed Tribes2 and UT2K4 and I've got the integrated X3100, plays both of them great.
    Here's my guide. This would be a good idea for the Macbook Pro, or the Asus G1S.
    http://www.nogodforme.com/HPDV6500T.htm">http://www.nogodforme.com/HPDV6500T.htm
    The key to my guide is that it's step by step with links to all drivers. Would be nice if someone did this for VMWare player, parallels, and bootcamp.
    Reply
  • Vidmar - Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - link

    Jarred,

    I just purchased a number of Gateway 155C convertibles (tablet pc) for my office. As you said XP won't install because of the lack of an appropriate SATA driver. But it's so easy to slipstream these SATA drivers into your XP build using nLite. I had a working XP install CD in less than 10 mins!

    In any case as other have said a look at lower weight laptops and tablet PCs would be nice to see. Take a close look at the Gateway 155C; it's a very good design.
    Reply

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