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Summary:

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-dv2With 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.

discharge

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.

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  1. Kevin, I have been also following your recommenditions about screen brightness ever since the CES 2009. When I had my MSI, & SC3 you mentioned about keeping the brightness as low, that’s comfortable; which I have since and does make a difference on my SC3, MSI, and now the Sony P. But I have a question, compare the dv2 to your MacBook, I know that it doesn’t have dedicated graphics like the dv2. But speed and battery life which one is better in your opinion. I’m thinking that you would get more for your dollar out of a MacBook, even though its more money, or maybe I could be wrong. I might be selling my SR MacBook Pro and will be either picking up the new MacBook Pro or even the MacBook. If I do get the MacBook I would have to find out if there is a way to get my Firewire Sony Cam to work in a USB mode with a adapter or just use the USB from the Sony which don’t know if iLife would work.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel HG Tuesday, April 21, 2009

      Glad to hear the screen brightness technique is helping, HG. As far as my MacBook, it actually does have dedicated graphics like the dv2: Apple uses the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB of video memory in the latest MB.

      “But speed and battery life which one is better in your opinion.”

      I don’t think I’d be comparing apples to apples (ha!) in that case. The MB weighs 4.5 pounds while the dv2 weighs almost a pound less. Both are pretty thin and small, but the dv2 is slightly thinner and smaller. I’m also running different OS’s on them currently, so I can’t make a straight comparison between the speed/power. The MB uses a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and I’d expect Windows to run very well on it; I just never got around to using Boot Camp on this Mac.

      As far as comparing the price: you can buy two HP dv2 devices for what I paid to get this one MacBook. However, I like the fact that I can work for around 5 hours on my MB with one charge. I also have a second battery for it, so a full 10-hour day of computing is possible. Not sure if that helps at all: again, we’re comparing two very different machines in this thread.

    2. Kevin, what does “dedicated graphics” actually mean?

      The MacBook has an “integrated” graphics processor (GeForce 9400M) that shares (poaches) memory from the rest of the system.

      http://www.apple.com/macbook/graphics.html

      The MacBook Pro has the same “integrated” graphics processor, and on top of that a “discrete” graphics processor (NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT) that’s more powerful and -hungry.

      http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/graphics.html

      AMD/ATI call the chip in the HP dv2 a “discrete” chip.

      http://ati.amd.com/products/MobilityRadeonhd3400/index.html

    3. Oliver is right; the Macbook uses intergrated Nvidia graphics. This isn’t too bad as the macbook has DDR3 memory, but dedicated memory would be better since you don’t have memory and graphics memory all sharing the same bandwidth.

  2. Brian Goodwin Monday, April 20, 2009

    I like your comment about longer run time. In my view, LONGER RUN TIME easily trumps CPU and graphics power for 99% of users on the road…whether they want to admit it or not.

    But that’s the funny part, most people won’t admit that they need battery performance when “on the run” far more than CPU and graphics performance. And even when you comment on this HP’s power compared with a netbook you add: “so it’s going to excel at things that a netbook simply can’t”…which merely prompts me to put you on the spot and ask: how much of that other stuff are you or any of us REALLY doing on the road? My bet is VERY LITTLE of what you do on the road can’t be done just fine, and for longer run time and lower cost, on a netbook. My experience is that almost nobody is actually running their CAD/CAM software on the road, editing videos in ten open windows, etc. Last night I had to wait for a flight at the San Jose airport. Located in Silicon Valley, the San Jose Airport must be the airport computer user “on the run” epicenter of the universe…yet my informal sneak peak survey of roughly 100 computer users spread out over more than a dozen terminals was that 99% of them were using their computers for low CPU demand activities like surfing the internet, blogging, emailing, writing reports, playing low CPU demand games (like solitaire), etc. So, where are the power users who actually need more CPU power while on the run?

    I have this argument with friends all the time, they tell me they can’t buy a netbook because they must have the fastest processor, DVD, blah, blah, blah. These guys already HAVE full power desktops…yet convince themselves they need all that same CPU power when on the run. When we pass at the airport they are dragging some 8+ pound desktop replacement notebook…usually in a dedicated computer bag with ten pounds of other crap they don’t need. I have my 3 pound netbook taking up near zero space in a side pouch of my backpack and it will be running hours after they have become one of those sad souls sitting on the floor in an airport hallway because that was the only place they could find a wall socket (though not at San Jose airport which has powered six and eight chair bars between most terminals and pretty good free wifi…too bad it is nearly unique in this respect).

    IF you can own just ONE machine, then perhaps this HP makes some sense…but then again the screen is a little small for 8 hour-a-day desktop replacement duties isn’t it? Hmm, assuming you have a proper desktop with big screen, I don’t see the case for this little HP over a 7 hour netbook unless you really need this CPU power on the road…and most just don’t. The only argument for it in my view is the greater, though netbooks are quickly pushing into bigger screens in the next few months (Dell MINI 12 was just ahead of the game).

  3. Nice work Kevin, on this and your last post as well. Did you get a chance to check out my review of the dv4 with 12-cell battery at my blog? I’m getting 5 solid hours of work time with a very high-end configuration.

    I did find that the brightness with the LED screen made absolutely zero impact on battery times. Then again, a 25W processor will make a bigger difference here compared to a 35W mobile Core 2 Duo on the dv4. Same with integrated graphics.

    Do feel free to post a comment on my blog if you like my review!

    1. Thanks dude! I’ll hit up your site for sure to read up on the dv4. I typically stay away from sites that might be reviewing the same gear I have under review: I don’t want what I read to influence my own review experience. Since you hit the dv4 instead of the dv2 however, I’ll check it out! :)

  4. Its a good start, but the DV2 feels too much like a before-its-time compromise.

    Give me an 11.6″ screen in a slim metal chassis, and a flush fitting 6-cell battery and i’ll be in heaven.

    Or more to the point, i’ll be in heaven if it uses AMD’s new ultraportable platform that goes by the Congo moniker.

    AMD dual-core in bga
    AMD 780G video
    AMD sb710

    With the above you would have perfection.

  5. i just ordered a dv2z with AMD Athlon(TM) Neo X2 Dual-Core L335 Processor and ati X1250 Graphics. I got it to do email and going on the web. I also like youtube and Hulu. I can take it with me as I travel and take it when i am enjoy a cup of coffee at the local book store. leting my grandkids watch alf on hulu. most of the time i will use my white imac. where i can dual boot in windows xp or mac os 10.6. I owned a mini 9 with mac os on it, but screen and keyboard was just too small for me. so I wanted something bigger. we will see how it works out

  6. If this laptop had Windows 7 on it (HP DV2-1121), do you think it would increase battery life? if so, by how much?

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