I used to have a Sony desktop and when I registered my computer I was automatically send firmware updates.
I have a HP Pavilion DV5-1012EA laptop and a average knowledge of computers, so do I have to check myself in the Support & Drivers page for updates to manually download? Also how do I know if I need a certain piece of firmware as it does not state it's for a particular desktop or laptop.
Firmware updates are optional, not necessary. Though it's for the best to keep updating your device whenever there's an update available.
As for the 'manual' part. You can choose whether you download your updates manually, or let the HP Support find them for you. In the end, it doesn't matter. You can always choose not to download an update.
I rather prefer to download them myself, because in my opinion the HP support doesn't do that of a good job, especially when you need to update your network driver and in doing so, you could erase the driver without reinstalling, and then what?
Search for updates for your device on the site of the manufacturer, don't trust the so called 'automatic driver updater'- programs in order not to download any virusses.
I hope this could've solved your 'problem', because it's a long time ago since you posted your question!