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I would try reseating the memory(located on the bottom) of the computer. Also check to see if any lights come on at all or fans as that can determine the nature of the problem. But yes this is a serious problem(most likely hardware related) and if your not comfortable with taking it apart I suggest taking it to a shop. Just make sure if they say they need to replace the part ask for the old part back.
I bought mine in April 2007. This happened June of last year and they replaced it for free. It just happened again 2 nights ago and HP won't do anything. My fiance called them and got a case manager and said that they design their laptops to work for only 2 years to which I say if it's designed to work for 2 years, shouldn't my motherboard still be working? After this experience and numerous other problems I have had with this laptop, I am never buying an HP product again.
Sounds like you are getting a supply line issue which is well known on these models. Pull the battery, Boot into BIOS, (F10 at the splash screen) And see if it will run for an extended period of time. Next if it does Boot into Safe mode and do the same..(This is F8).. Post back..
Hello Lunartiger, i have one suggestion. My 4 year old toshiba satellite has had the same problem (almost.....). It would not boot or format. the hard drive's running sound was weird. It would do tic-tic-tic... instead of the normal chirrrrrrr.... I thought the hard drive was broken . So i went to a computer shop and replaced its original toshiba hard drive with a cheap refurbished Fujitsu hard drive. It's been working well(maybe faster) since then. If your hard drive sounds different then before, consider buying a new one.
search the web for your laptop's motherboard to see where the CMOS bettery is. I used irisvista.com for my laptop but they might not have hp laptops there