"This laptop is all about video performance for the price"4.5 starson by ldevol
Pros: Integrated ATI Radeon 3200 graphics, large HD, lots of memory
Cons: battery life, but only if you need it...
Summary: Laptops have more than 1 market, and CNET reviews like this one need to address more markets than they do. They basically test processor power and battery life to come up with a performance score and then check off a list of features yeah or nay.
The biggest emerging market that this review neglects is the basic desktop replacement for the home. Laptops are becoming cheap enough that instead of getting a stationary desktop people are purchasing inexpensive mobile laptops instead. The requirements of this market are: Inexpensive ($500-$800), reasonably fast processor, and graphics that are capable of playing 3D games are reasonable frame rates and playing HD video content without issues. CNET has failed to test the graphics capability at all, and consequently ignored this laptop's towering strength.
The reviewer rightly stated that in the under $1000 catagory, all laptops basically come with integrated graphics. Long time users of Intel integrated graphics processors will attest that they are best suited for surfing the internet and presenting PowerPoints. Frame rates on current 3D games fall into the range of 6-18 frames per second (FPS), where 30 fps is the minimum for any kind of playability.
Enter the ATI Radeon 3200 integrated graphics. This is the exact same graphics core as the discrete Mobile Radeon 3450 available in more expensive laptops. Its graphics performance is slightly slower than the discrete 3450 because it uses shared main memory, but it’s only SLIGHTLY slower. With current 3D games, you should get at least 40-50 FPS without lowering the settings too much. For a home computer this graphics performance is essential for all-around performance. The integrated Intel graphics on competing laptops is simply dismal, but it is not reported here.
One last thing about the Radeon 3200 graphics,the Radeon 3200 also supports full hardware HD video acceleration. This means you get flawless HD playback from either an HD TV tuner, or a Blu-Ray disk player (the DV5-1003nr comes with the Blu-ray ROM drive). Intel integrated graphics has a way to go in this area as well; again not reported in this review.
I’ve owned this laptop for 3 weeks since the $599 sale. The games I play run very smoothly; some at lower settings but that’s far better than not running at all, which is what you get with Intel's inferior graphics solutions. I purchased a Pinnacle USB HDTV tuner with outstanding results. I can use either Pinnacle’s software or Windows Media Center to watch or record TV and there is no hint of dropped frames or jerky playback. I recorded some of the Olympic gymnastics and I couldn't be happier with the results. Playback of the recording was as smooth as can be. I tried this once with Intel integrated graphics and gave up on the jerky picture.
If you want an inexpensive laptop with a great processor and miserable graphics performance, business laptops come to mind, by all means purchase that Intel laptop.
However, if you want an inexpensive laptop with a decent processor and outstanding graphics (a more balanced laptop in my opinion), put this laptop at the top of the list. Having a processor that is about 80% as fast as the competition is one thing (AMD). Having a graphics adapter that scores a 0 (zero) for 3D gaming and HD video is another (Intel).
When looking for a laptop, think carefully about your requirements. If inexpensive and gaming are both mentioned, then this laptop is your by far and away the best choice. Nothing else comes close to its graphics capabilities in it's price range. With its HD video acceleration, HDMI port, and the eSATA port, this laptop also makes a pretty darn good mobile HTPC. Record the shows and play them back in the car on long trips for the kids.
CNET's review really missed the point of this laptop, and it's a real shame.