HP's Pavilion laptop range provides some of the best usability and most stylish designs on the market. The Pavilion dv7-1107ea is a stunning entry-level media centre, but performance falls massively short of expectations.

With a 17-inch screen, the chassis is large and built for desktop use. Weighing 3.5kg, it's a hefty system and not suited to travel use. Its 199-minute battery life means you can easily work around the home when necessary, however.

The stunning silver and black design is arguably the most stylish in this group, and adds a very high-quality feel. The glossy finish does attract fingerprints and scratches, however.

Great usability

The large keyboard generally provides excellent usability, but we noticed the board flexes slightly during use. The huge touchpad and mouse buttons are also extremely comfortable to use, and the touchpad's wide design matches the 17-inch screen's aspect ratio for easy control of cursor movement.

The screen itself is bright, sharp and vibrant, but has a restricted viewing angle. It looks fine when viewed straight on, but not when viewing from an angle. This has the benefit of making it harder for people to sneak a peek at your screen, however.

A panel of touch-sensitive buttons below the screen provides basic multimedia usability, allowing you to browse music, videos, photos and DVDs with ease. The high responsiveness of the buttons makes it easy to occasionally activate them accidentally, however.

Lacking in power

Where the HP truly disappoints is its poor performance. It uses an AMD chipset, rather than Intel's Core 2 Duo technology. Performance falls vastly below most rivals and only the most basic office tasks run smoothly.

As with the Sony VAIO VGN-FW31E, we couldn't benchmark the ATi graphics card due to driver incompatibility. It's a mid-level chip designed for high-definition (HD) use, however, so you can be sure it will allow you to edit your home photo and videos, and even play some of the latest games.

The 250GB hard drive is also highly capable and provides ample storage for holding large collections of music and photos. The DVD rewriter also has the added bonus of LightScribe compatibility, which may in itself be a key selling point for frequent disc creators.

Although the stunning design and great usability of the Pavilion dv7-1107ea make it well worth a look, its flawed performance makes it hard to fully recommend. If you're seeking a high-powered media centre, then the Samsung R710 is a much better choice.