HP is one the world's largest laptop manufacturers, with a comprehensive range of machines available. Its Pavilion brand targets the consumer market, and the dv7-1004ea (£831 inc. VAT) is a high powered and affordable media and gaming laptop that excels on many levels.
Due to its large 17-inch screen, the chassis weighs 3.6kg. It is one of the biggest and heaviest laptops around, and a true desktop replacement.
Its 232-minute battery life is excellent, however, so you can easily work on the move if the weight doesn't put you off.
Style with substance
HP laptops are renowned for their style and this is no exception. The curved silver and black chassis looks stunning and far more expensive than the affordable price suggests. Its glossy coating is a magnet for fingerprints and scratches, however.
The impressive design continues across the user interface. The large silver keyboard is well spaced and responsive, and the pad of number-keys provides easy data input and gaming use. The huge touchpad is also very comfortable to use.
The 17-inch screen is ideal for watching movies and working across multiple documents. Image quality is fantastic and the screen is encased beneath a glossy plastic cover, which sits flat with the bezel. It is highly reflective, however, which can hinder visibility in bright conditions.
The dedicated nVidia graphics card provides mid-level gaming power. While it fails to match the power of the Novatech X50MV, it will still run many of the latest games. Its strong performance also makes it an excellent choice for frequent photo and video editing.
An infrared remote control and touch-sensitive quick-launch keys above the keyboard add media-centre functionality, so it's easy to sit back on the sofa and watch the latest DVDs, view photos or play music when you're not hard at work.
Home and office performance is less impressive, but still some of the best. The 2GHz dual-core Intel processor and impressive 4096MB of memory make light work of the most intensive tasks, so this is as much a powerful office tool as it a home media centre.
The 320GB hard drive provides comprehensive storage space and the DVD rewriter lets you back up data to CDs and DVDs. The drive's LightScribe functionality is also a nice touch, as it lets you burn your own custom-designed labels directly to the surface of compatible discs.
The flawless mix of style, performance and features make the HP Pavilion dv7- 1004ea an excellent entry-level media centre. The reflective screen is not ideal in bright conditions, but there are few better laptops available at this price.