Keyboard and Touchpad
On a 15-inch all-rounder, you'd expect a great keyboard, and the DV5 delivers.
The layout is excellent, there's next to no flex, and it just feels right. I'm not a huge fan of glossy keyboards, I just don't find them as comfortable as regular ones, but this is not a big deal.
However, using a glossy finish on the touchpad was a very bad idea. If you've got oily skin or sweaty palms, and who doesn't after a couple of hours of work, it will be a mess. Basically, it's like dragging piece of rubber across glass. In humid conditions it just gets worse.
I honestly can't even begin to imagine what the design team was thinking, or smoking, when they decided to use this finish. Sure, it looks nice, but it can be incredibly annoying, especially on a hot day of after prolongued use. What's worse, cleaning it only makes matters worse, as grease helps your finger slide across it, at the cost of making you feel physically sick.
At least the touchpad keys feel good.
Ergonomics, Everyday use
The connector layout is good, and the range of available interfaces will even put many desktops to shame.
Starting with the left side, which features VGA, HDMI, LAN, eSATA/USB combo, a docking station port, a USB, card reader and ExpressCard 54 slot. Unfortunately, this particular SKU doesn't have a FireWire port, but most other models do.
The optical drive is on the right side, along with two USBs, DC connector and Kensington lock.
At the front you'll find the status LEDs and audio connectors. Placing audio connectors at the front is not a very good idea, but at least the Altec Lansing speakers provide pretty good sound quality, and you won't have to connect external speaker too often. If you're into movies, they'll do, but music lovers will crave a bit more bass.
There are no ports at the back. The battery isn't placed on the edge of the chassis, but rather at the bottom. In our video playback test it managed 2:09h. So, under load you can expect a under two hours, and while using everyday, non-demanding applications, we were easily managing over two and a half hours.
Under load the top side of the chassis can heat up to over 38°C, but the palm rests tend to stay a bit cooler. However, the cooling system is pretty quiet, and in conjunction with the Altec Lansing speakers, it won't bug you while watching movies.
Sadly, the screen will let you down when it comes to video. It lacks brightness, even when the backlight is set to max and the DV5 is plugged in. This, along with the glossy coating makes it extremely unpleasant to use outdoors.