With so many ways to test a notebook platform and battery, I try to stick with techniques I’ve used before. This offers consistency in the test and therefore offers a frame of reference. That’s why I used the Battery Eater test in Classic mode on the HP dv2 with its 6-cell battery. As I often do when sharing Battery Eater test results, I want to explain how to interpret them. The purpose of the Classic test is to fully stress out the computer to provide the minimum run-time of the device. It’s a worst-case scenario to give you a starting point. When I do this test, I typically set the device to 40% screen brightness, Wi-Fi on and I disable all power management features. Again, it’s a worst-case type of test.
So how did the dv2 do? It generally performed the way I’d expect a notebook with a dedicated GPU to perform: it ate up the battery fairly quickly because it offers more processor performance than a device that sips energy.
The 55Whr 6-cell battery, which is the same size as the standard 4-cell power pack, petered out in 98 minutes. That’s one-hour and 38 minutes of portable potent power. Is that good or is that bad? That depends on what you’re looking for in a device and how you’re going to use it.
My needs are best served by a computer that has a long run-time where I can work in my browser over Wi-Fi or 3G for five or six hours on a single charge. Two batteries with such a device like a netbook can get me through a full workday. Of course, the HP dv2 is a Pavilion Entertainment PC, so it’s going to excel at things that a netbook simply can’t. The 1.6GHz AMD Athlon paired with the ATI Radeon 3410 might not run nearly as long, but it’s snappy and offers superior graphics performance.
Since I offered my first impressions of the dv2, I’ve used it as a primary work device. I think it’s safe to say that three-hours of general work on the 6-cell battery is about right. Since the 4-cell battery is rated for 41Whr, that unit should offer around two-hours. I did see some power settings in the included ATI Catalyst Control Center, so you might even eek out a little more run-time. However, my numbers are assuming that you enjoy the video capabilities in a limited fashion: once you start to do that, the combination of CPU and GPU really start to tax the battery. Of course, the intent and design of this device is to do just that: you can’t effectively enjoy high quality video on a netbook. And while you can watch high-def media on other notebooks at this price, they’ll generally weigh more and/or have a bigger footprint. This device is a nice compromise in portability and power efficiency.
As an aside, the AMD platform powering the dv2 is 64-bit and the device is running the 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows Vista SP1; quite well, I might add. I suspect that’s why I’m not able to get either Notebook Hardware Control or BattStat to run properly; I was hoping to see the actual power drain in Watts that the system uses, but no such luck just yet. I’ll keep researching these and other options in the meantime. My best guess with the data I have so far is that this platform uses around 17 Watts for basic websurfing type of activity; hitting up some video entertainment likely pushes it upwards of 27 Watts or so.