capsule review

HP Pavilion HDX

At a Glance
  • HP Pavilion HDX

    PCWorld Rating

Far from being a mere desktop replacement, the HP Pavilion HDX notebook is a multimedia powerhouse with a sleek design and a gorgeous 20.1-inch screen that will bring videos and games vividly to life. This update to the HDX line bumps up the processor from a standard Core 2 Duo to Intel's recently released Core 2 Duo Extreme but otherwise changes little of the original design and core features. Our system came fully decked out to match the new high-end CPU, bearing a commensurately steep price tag of $4300.

The new 2.6-GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme X7800 chip didn't have much impact on the unit's overall performance in our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 tests, as the new laptop earned a score of 85; the earlier version of the HDX with a 2.4-GHz Core 2 Duo T7700 received a nearly identical score of 86. (The slightly lower score could be attributed to marginal differences in the specs of the two machines.) The HDX with the Extreme processor shaved about 2 minutes off the earlier model's time on our Autodesk 3D Studio Max rendering tests, but it lagged the previously tested model by about a minute on our Nero 7 tests. The new HDX delivered a couple of frames per second more on our Far Cry and Doom 3 gaming tests than the earlier model did.

Both HDX systems we tested came with 4GB of RAM, Windows Vista Ultimate, an HD DVD drive that also records multiple standard DVD formats, and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 XT chip set with 256MB of dedicated graphics memory. In contrast to the single 200GB drive in the older version, though, the new system sports two 160GB hard drives, which should please space-hungry video editors and creators. You get good connectivity options, including 802.11n and gigabit ethernet, plus HDMI and eSATA ports. Also in the mix is an HDTV hybrid TV tuner that picks up ATSC and NTSC signals.

The shiny black and silver case, embossed with HP's decorative dragon imprint, looks great. The machine is heavy, though, weighing in at a minimum of 15.5 pounds, and opening the huge, tiltable monitor took me both hands to do right. This is not a laptop that you'll actually want on your lap, and you'll need to keep it plugged in, since its battery life was only about 90 minutes in our lab tests.

The system packs lots of thoughtful design touches, such as a tiltable built-in Webcam, a button that turns off the LEDs for a more cinematic movie-watching experience, another button that deactivates the touchpad, quick-launch buttons for DVD and TV viewing, and external touch controls to adjust sound and play CDs and DVDs. The embedded dock for the media-center remote is also a plus.

Sound and video playback were terrific, but while the Webcam's video looked good, the built-in microphone wasn't quite up to the task; if you plan to record audio, you're better off getting an external mic. The fans are a bit loud at first, but you'll get used to them.

At $3000, the earlier model is a better deal given its nearly comparable performance, but if you need extra storage and you work with high-end graphics that require an Extreme processor--and price is no object--you'll be happy with this HDX.

Anush Yegyazarian

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A good looking system with top notch features and cool design, but a hefty price tag.

    Pros

    • Gorgeous 20.1-inch display
    • CPU supports high-end graphics

    Cons

    • Very expensive
    • Case shows fingerprints easily
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