First impressions of the HP Pavilion dv2 and AMD's "not-for-netbooks" Neo

HP's latest ultraportable, the Pavilion dv2, is now available.Announced at CES in January, the dv2 is notable because it is part of AMD's strategy to counter Intel Atom-based netbooks with ultraportables that are closer in price to netbooks, but offer features more like full-fledged notebooks.

HP's latest ultraportable, the Pavilion dv2, is now available.

Announced at CES in January, the dv2 is notable because it is part of AMD's strategy to counter Intel Atom-based netbooks with ultraportables that are closer in price to netbooks, but offer features more like full-fledged notebooks. To get there, AMD came up with a new single-core Athlon Neo chip, manufactured using AMD's current 65nm process technology, paired with ATI Mobility Radeon discrete graphics. The dv2 is the first laptop to use this new platform, which should offer better performance than netbooks at the expense of battery life.

The Pavilion dv2-1030us starts at $749 with a 12.1-inch LED display (1280 x 800), 1.60GHz AMD Athlon Neo MV-40, 4GB of memory, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3410 graphics with 512MB, 320GB hard drive, external LightScribe SuperMulti DVD burner and Vista Home Premium 64-bit SP1. It ranges from 0.9 to 1.3 inches thick, and weighs 3.8 pounds with the standard 6-cell battery.

Although no major sites have posted full reviews of the dv2, several have published their first impressions of the little laptop, and they are mostly positive. Laptop Magazine also posted some early test results which suggest that--as expected--the dv2 has much better performance than netbooks such as the Via Nano-based Samsung NC20, but falls far short of Intel Core 2 Duo-based ultraportables, which generally cost $1,200 or more.

Netbooks are currently one of the only bright spots in the PC industry, so it will be interesting to see whether AMD's "not-a-netbook" approach resonates with consumers. HP is hedging its bets--it is also pushing two nice Atom-based netbooks, the Mini 1000 for consumers and Mini 2140 for businesses, along with several higher-priced, Core 2 Duo ultraportables.

Meanwhile, PC Magazine has just posted a full review of the Pavilion dv3z, a 13-inch model that lacks the novelty of its smaller sibling, but may be a more practical choice for most consumers looking for a relatively low-cost thin-and-light. The dv3z starts at $649.99 with a 13.3-inch LED display (1280 x 800), 2.0GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-62 dual-core processor, 2GB of memory, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics, 160Gb hard drive, internal SuperMulti DVD burner and Vista Home Premium 32-bit with SP1. PC Magazine tested a configuration with a faster processor, twice the memory, a 320GB hard drive and a larger battery that still came in under $1,000. The performance doesn't come close to the 13-inch Apple MacBook, which starts at $999, but "if your workloads are as light as this system," the dv3z offers an unusual combination of features and portability for the price.

Last month, Computer Shopper and Laptop Magazine posted reviews of the Pavilion dv3z.

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