The DV7 is part of the same design family as the recently reviewed DV5 Pavilion, which means you're looking at the same glossy, somewhat fingerprint-prone chrome design, wrapped around a notebook that can only be described as a desktop replacement. We say that because, at 3.46kg, this isn't a notebook you're going to want to lift all that much. Or to put it another way, you could stow three netbooks into the same bag as the DV7, and still have enough weight left over for your lunch as well.
Like the DV5, the DV7 features the "media runway" touch-sensitive panel beneath the screen, for easy access to volume and playback features. Also like the DV5, you'll be broadcasting HP's brand far and wide if you do take it anywhere, thanks to a small glowing logo on the DV7's exterior case.
As with the DV5, HP's taking a gamble on consumer tastes when it comes to designing a system this glossy. Some will love the idea, while others will find it impossibly shiny. We still can't help but wonder if, like a lot of initially shiny products, it won't look rather scratched and naff a few years down the track.
Underneath all the gloss lies an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T9600 running at 2.80GHz. It's fed by a solid 4GB of RAM (8GB is the maximum) and graphically presented via an Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT with 512MB of dedicated memory.
The display on the DV7 is a 17-inch panel; our test sample topped out at a relatively low 1,440x900-pixel display, although higher resolution panels are available. That's a good thing, as one of the DV7's big selling points is that it's equipped with both a Blu-ray drive and an integrated digital TV tuner, and a lower resolution panel simply won't be able to do HD video the proper justice.
For external ports, you're looking at four USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA (shared with a USB port), one VGA port, one HDMI connector, one IEEE 1394, one RJ-11 modem connector, one RJ-45 Ethernet connector, two stereo headphone jacks, one microphone jack, and an infrared port. On the networking front, you're equipped with gigabit Ethernet as well as Intel's WiFi Link 5100, offering 802.11n/g/b compatibility
Like the DV5, the DV7 was a lot of fun to test, and we're not just saying that because it gave us the excuse to kick back and watch a few Blu-ray movies. The touchpad is slick and easy to use with great responsiveness, and likewise, the keyboard (which includes a number pad) has excellent spacing and travel characteristics.
On the benchmark front, we struggled for a long time to get the DV7 to run PCMark (which will nominally run on anything save netbooks), but eventually had to give up in frustration. We're still not sure what HP's done with the DV7 that kills PCMark stone dead ... we just know that it does. Certainly in an anecdotal sense, the DV7 performed very well for us with every other test we threw its way.
Things were much happier on the 3DMark front, where the DV7 romped in with a 3DMark score of 4,583, meaning that this is a very solid multimedia contender. Given the size of the display, the quality of the speakers and the inclusion of Blu-ray, this is an entertainment machine that really means business.
The DV7 comes with the usual micro-sized antenna for TV reception, and like pretty much all of them in the Australian marketplace, unless you happen to live under a TV transmission tower (and therefore tend to glow in the dark and grow extra appendages overnight), you're not likely to see much in the way of reception out of it. We certainly didn't from a couple of different locations, so a fixed antenna would be a necessary inclusion if TV reception is at the top of your hit list.
The DV7 isn't a cheap laptop by any stretch of the imagination, but it backs up that price with a very nice feature set indeed. But for its inability to be benchmarked (somewhere where we suspect it would have scored highly, at least based on its core architecture), we would have scored it more highly.