Our favorite big-screen notebook just pulled away from the field. The HP Pavilion HDX Entertainment Notebook PC was one of our favorite laptops of 2007 because of its gorgeous and adjustable 20.1-inch display, wealth of multimedia features, and strong graphics muscle. Now this stellar machine is among the first to include Intel's new 45-nanometer Penryn platform, offering the ultimate in performance without sacrificing battery life--not that you need much endurance out of this monster.
With its piano-black Imprint pinstripe design, the HDX resembles other Pavilions, but the massive 20.1-inch dual-hinge sets it apart from the pack because it lets you move the screen back or forward to angle your movie, document, or Web page into prime viewing position. We enjoyed life-like colors and bright visuals while watching Superbad on the new 1,920 x 1,200-pixel (1080p) display and loved the rich audio that the Altec Lansing speakers pumped out.
We wished that our unit was configured with a high-definition drive for taking advantage of the 1080p resolution, but HP wisely lets users select their high-definition drive of choice. Blu-ray ($250), HD DVD ($325), and HD DVD-R ($375) are all optional for completing the multimedia experience. Located just above the display is aVGA webcam that we used for Web-conferencing, but friends and colleagues stated that it was plagued by drab, murky visuals. HP also includes an integrated NTSC/ATSC input and an F-Jack adapter for picking up over-the-air broadcast television (including HD content). Using Windows Media Center, users can record programming to the massive 500GB, 5400-rpm hard drive.
HDX Controls and Ports
We had no problems using the row of touch-sensitive multimedia keys that control optical disc playback, volume, bass, treble, and other functions, but we preferred the remote that's docked to the left of the spacious, full-sized keyboard. Multimedia mavens will love the plethora of ports and jacks scattered about the machine for importing and exporting content: four USB 2.0, stereo audio, ExpressCard/54, HDMI, FireWire, S-Video, VGA, eSATA, 2 headphone, mic, and a 5-in-1 memory card reader.
Outstanding Processor Performance
At the heart of this 15.8-pound machine is Intel's new Penryn 45-nanometer transistors, which are the basis for the company's Santa Rosa Refresh processing platform. The transistors' minuscule size enables Intel to cram more of them into a Core 2 Duo processor, which results in greater processing power. Plus, they're constructed of new "Hi-K" materials that enable the transistors to reduce electrical leakage, resulting in30 percent lower power consumption than silicon-based transistors. In our tests, the Penryn-powered 2.5-GHz Intel Next Generation Core 2 Duo processor, paired with 2GB of RAM, helped the HDX notch an impressive PC Mark Vantage score of 3,125--more than 700 points higher than the average desktop replacement.
We decided to put the new Penryn platform through the ringer by running Google Earth, while ripping a CD in Windows Media Player 11. The HDX loaded the topography of Los Angeles and Madrid fairly quickly, although we experienced some graphical stuttering as the globe rotated between cities--a bit disappointing considering the hype. When we used Google Earth without ripping a CD in the background, we didn't see a change in performance one way or the other.
HDX and Gaming
Like the previous HDX, this notebook is a graphics powerhouse. Gamers and graphic artists will appreciate the notebook's spectacular 3DMark03 score of 25,260, which makes it only the fourth notebook we've seen to break the 25,000 plateau (the others include the Alienware Area-51 m9750, Dell XPS M1730, and the Voodoo PC HW:201). The HDX also notched a 3DMark06 score of 7,525, which is almost 2,600 points higher than comparable machines. The previous iteration of the HDX churned out scores of 11,984 and 4,241 in 3DMark03 and 3DMark06, respectively.
The tremendous graphics power translated into excellent real-world performance; on our F.E.A.R. test, the game whizzed by at a dazzling 88.3 frames per second in auto-detect mode, which dropped to a still-playable 48 fps with the settings maxed out. The non-Penryn powered HDX notched 72 fps on autodetect, and 25 fps with the settings bumped up to their highest levels.
A Wireless Boost
We saw excellent wireless throughput courtesy of Intel's 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, which pushed data along at a rate of 19.8 Mbps at 15 feet away from our access point, and 17.9 Mbps at 50 feet. This is up from the previous HDX' previous 18.3 Mbps and 16.5 Mbps scores. Despite the strong graphics and wireless performance, the HDX' 9-cell battery provided decent endurance; it held a charge for 2 hours and 35 minutes with the Wi-Fi on. With the signal off, the HDX lasted a respectable 3 hours.
The HDX comes with a software package that includes Adobe Acrobat Reader, Roxio Easy Media Creator 9, Symantec Norton Internet Security, and a 30-day Vongo trial. HP offers a one-year limited warranty and 24/7 toll-free phone support.
The HP Pavilion HDX Entertainment Notebook PC is without a doubt a premium multimedia machine and is an excellent platform for showcasing Penryn's power. Although we would have liked to see the inclusion of a three-year warranty, this top-of-the-line desktop replacement has enough oomph to satisfy all of your productivity and entertainment needs for years to come.
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Featuring a dual-hinged 20-inch widescreen display, Intel's new Core 2 Extreme processor, and all the multimedia bells and whistles you can dream up, the HP HDX is one smokin' desktop replacement.
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