While multimedia laptops have previously been synonymous with large chassis and 17-inch screens, recent designs have shown a move towards greater mobility. Continuing the trend is the HP Pavilion dv4291EA (£1299 inc. VAT).
With its understated silver/black chassis and glossy interior finish, the HP caters its looks to its target audience of gamers and multimedia users. With dimensions of 359 x 254 x 43mm and a 3kg weight, this is a laptop able to deliver moderate mobility.
Usability is comfortable, thanks to a wide 305mm keyboard. Although the keys bounce slightly, long-term use is not negatively impacted. Ensuring ample power for its home entertainment aims, an Intel Pentium M 750 processor runs at 1.86GHz. However, the real performance comes from its impressive allocation of 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM - a notable amount of memory for a laptop.
With a 100GB Seagate hard drive in place, there's plenty of space for storing large multimedia files. With a rotational speed of 5400rpm, the drive provides fast operation. This combination of components performed as expected, delivering a strong result from benchmark tests. Scoring 209 points from MobileMark 2005, the HP is highly capable.
However, the aim of this system is multimedia ability. Although its ATi Mobility Radeon X700 graphics chip is no longer the market leader it once was, it is still a powerful GPU ideal for gaming. Its score of 5742 proves its ability, as the HP will run 3D games with ease.
Improving performance further is the use of a 15.4-inch Super-TFT screen. Despite using a WXGA resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, images are sharp and show excellent contrast. Brightness is lower than we would have hoped, but is adequate.
Of course, such performance can come at the cost of mobility. With a battery life of 172 minutes under test conditions, you will get less than the three-hour minimum that we expect from modern laptops, and the HP is best suited to home/office use. Adding to its home entertainment slant is the inclusion of a port replicator, for easy connection to a home/office docking station.
A dual-format/dual-layer DVD drive is also fitted, along with a 6-in-1 card reader. High-speed wireless networks can be accessed using the internal 802.11g Wi-Fi card. Gigabit Ethernet support is absent from the HP, but fixed networks can be configured using 10/100 Base-T transfer speeds.
With its combination of high performance and mobility, the HP Pavilion dv4291EA covers all its bases with ease. It may not suit the long-term traveller, but for multimedia performance at home or on short journeys, it's an excellent choice of laptop.