capsule review

HP Pavilion dv9000t

At a Glance
  • HP Pavilion dv9000t

    PCWorld Rating

The Pavilion dv9000t, which debuted last fall as a Windows XP-based machine, is among the few notebook PCs capable of displaying HD DVD movies in high definition, either on its own 17-inch WXGA+ screen or on an HDTV connected to the notebook's integrated HDMI port. Except for its switch to Windows Vista Ultimate, this latest iteration of the dv9000t remains largely unchanged. It comes with everything you need to replace a desktop PC: good entertainment features; plenty of speed; and a solidly designed keyboard, screen, and case. To accommodate the latest peripherals, the laptop offers four USB ports, a single FireWire port, and an ExpressCard slot.

At 7.7 pounds, the dv9000t's carrying weight is middle-of-the-road: not ideal for frequent travel, but easier to move from room to room than some desktop replacements. Wireless communications (integrated 802.11b/g is standard; Bluetooth costs a little extra) are easy to monitor and control via an LED on/off switch mounted on the front.

The dv9000t's so-so battery life remains about 2.5 hours, unchanged from when we tested the dv9000t with Windows XP. You can upgrade from the standard eight-cell battery to a high-capacity version, for $39 more.

The dv9000t is gorgeous, with an eye-catching, glossy, piano-black lid and hidden hinges. Inside, the upper casing is imprinted with a sophisticated wave pattern, and the keyboard is topped off with a backlit, touch-sensitive membrane that controls multimedia applications.

One-touch entertainment is one of the dv9000t's best features. With the notebook turned off, swiping your finger across the membrane launches the HP QuickPlay menu so you can bypass Windows and directly play movies, music, video, and photo slideshow collections whether they're located on the hard drive, in the optical drive, or on a memory card.

The built-in Altec Lansing speakers emit sound from outlets located at the top of the keyboard. Their sound quality is good enough to let you enjoy music and dialog without headphones--but in case you and a friend need to listen privately, the dv9000t is one of the few notebooks with a dual-capable headphones port. You can also engage in video chat with friends online via the optional integrated Webcam. The only entertainment option not available at the press of a button is television, but the unit comes fully equipped to support this Windows Media Center feature with an ExpressCard digital/analog TV tuner, remote control, and coaxial adapter cable. A hybrid analog-digital desktop antenna enables you to pick up local signals when a cable connection is not possible.

The dv9000t is fast and powerful enough to handle any kind of application. Our review unit's 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 chip, 2GB of RAM, and 120GB hard drive helped it earn a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 74--three points above the desktop replacement group's average of 71.

Thanks to its 256MB nVidia GeForce Go 7600 graphics controller, the dv9000t held its own in our gaming tests, turning in better-than-average frame rates. It performed best in our Far Cry test set at a resolution of 1024 by 768 (79 frames per second), but was fast enough in all the tests to prove itself a solid gamer.

Unfortunately, the BrightView screen is more reflective than other glossy notebook displays we've examined. It picked up glare from our overhead fluorescent lights, though lowering the lid a bit quickly fixed the problem.

The highly configurable dv9000t starts at $1099 and tops out at over $3000 (as of April 11, 2007) with all the trimmings, including two 160GB hard drives (for 320GB of storage). Our review unit came equipped with a single 100GB hard drive, but it and the two memory chips are user upgradable.

Serious desktop outfitters will want the $250 HP xb3000 Notebook Expansion Base, a screen stand with premium integrated speakers, a built-in bay for a third hard drive, and the bundled wireless keyboard and mouse.

The dv9000t is an excellent laptop suitable for work and play. Its battery life is undistinguished, but its big screen and one-touch media strip will thrill movie mavens, and the unparalleled docking station makes it an irresistible desktop replacement.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The dv9000t provides great desktop muscle plus one-touch music, photos, and movies.

    Pros

    • Bundled ExpressCard TV tuner
    • High-definition screen and DVD burner

    Cons

    • Screen a little too reflective
    • Integrated WWAN not an option
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