Ever so recently, we reviewed the HP Envy 17-1050ea, a truly luxurious machine that offers a rather spiffy design and more grunt than a grizzled old oil-rig worker. If you like the look of that machine but fancy dialling down the extravagance, the 17.3-inch HP Pavilion dv7-4050ea might be for you. It'll set you back around £900.
In terms of style, the dv7-4050ea borrows a great deal from other machines in HP's laptop range. We've seen the coppery-salmon metal chassis and intricate rope design on the lid and wrist rest before, on the HP Pavilion dm4-1050ea.
Around the edges of this machine, you'll find VGA and HDMI outputs, an Ethernet jack, an eSATA/USB port, a multi-format card reader, two 3.5mm sockets for headphones and a mic, and three standard USB ports. There's a rewritable DVD drive present too, and a 500GB hard drive inside. The whole caboodle ships with the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 Professional.
The dv7-4050ea's got connectivity options well covered, but we're a little dismayed that there's no Blu-ray drive in this machine. It's something we'd like to have seen considering the high cost of this laptop.
In terms of usability, the dv7-4050ea retains a few of the problems we saw in the Envy 17-1050ea. For instance, while the keyboard has plenty of space to sit in the chassis, the up and down arrow keys are hopelessly stubby, and wrapping your fingers around them is rather tricky. The rest of the keyboard is alright, however, and it's big and comfy enough that typing for extended periods should be relatively painless.
The trackpad is absolutely massive, which is great, and it's satisfyingly sensitive. As with the Envy 17-1050ea, the click buttons are also touch-sensitive, so you might find yourself accidentally adjusting the cursor when all you want to do is click.
The display is a strong point. Pleasingly bright, this 17.3-inch display has a maximum resolution of 1,600x900 pixels. We like seeing laptops with a 'Full HD', 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution but, that said, this particular display isn't likely to disappoint. It's bright and colours seem vivid.
Tearing apart the dv7-4050ea's outer shell like an over-eager otter cracking into an oyster, we're happy to see a quad-core Intel Core i7-720QM CPU, clocked at 1.6GHz, chillin' out inside. That's one burly CPU and, backed up by 4GB of DDR3 RAM, it amassed a score of 6,836 in our PCMark05 benchmark test. That's an impressive score, but we'd expect nothing less when you're shelling out almost a grand.
There's a dedicated graphics card in the form of an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650, just waiting for the chance to start churning out graphical loveliness. When we ran our 3DMark06 graphics benchmark test, it scored a healthy 7,661 at a 1,280x1,024-pixel resolution, and a still-respectable 6,635 at the maximum resolution of 1,920x900 pixels.
That's plenty of power. Indeed, we found 1080p video playback extremely smooth on this machine, and expect that the odd gaming session will be well within this laptop's capabilities. Again though, we'd expect nothing less for the price.
The machine's battery life is rubbish. We don't expect much time away from the mains with these large, powerful desktop-replacement machines, but the dv7-4050ea's battery lasted only 49 minutes when we ramped up the CPU to a constant 100 per cent. If you're after a laptop that will accompany you around the world on your boundless adventures, this is not it.
The HP Pavilion dv7-4050ea hardly sets our hearts alight, but it's a fine beast nevertheless. The trackpad buttons are rather annoying and its battery life is poor, but this laptop offers decent performance across the board, and it looks good too.
If you have a few extra £100 notes lying about, you could opt for the Envy 17-1050ea instead, which offers a more powerful graphics card and better performance.
Edited by Emma Bayly