HP Pavilion HDX - 'Dragon'

With a 20-inch widescreen, HD DVD drive and HDTV tuner, HP's Pavilion HDX has supersized the desktop replacement into a fire-breathing, multimedia beast.


8.5
CNET Rating
8.6
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


When we first heard about the HDX months ago, we wondered exactly where the market for a 20-inch notebook would be. The answer became obvious once it hit our desks -- the luxury market. This thing can only be described as luxurious, although the term "really, really, freaking huge" crossed our minds a few times.

Design
Since this "lapbehemoth" really doesn't fit the normal mould, there's a fair amount to cover here. A lot of the machine is done in piano black with inlaid tribal designs -- which does look reasonably nice, until all the designs become obscured by smudges from your fingers. An HP logo on the back of the screen lights up once the machine powers on, presumably using the monitor's own backlight as the source.

The monitor itself is connected to the base by a double hinge -- so after swinging it out from the base, the bottom of the screen can be tilted via another hinge at the top of the neck, for more comfortable viewing. A slight design flaw in the neck means that the monitor cannot be returned flush against the neck to close the notebook until the neck is almost 100 percent vertical -- not a show stopper, but definitely an irritant as you have flashbacks to playing with transformers as a kid, trying to get that one part to click in that never does. A basic 0.3MP Webcam is situated at the top of the screen, stereo microphone inputs flanking either side. Altec Lansing speakers are built into the bottom of the monitor, with separate bass and treble control.

The touchpad area is not recessed in the traditional style, HP choosing to raise the wrist rest instead and create an artificial dip. The touchpad itself is dotted with indents, like the perforated surface of an air hockey table, the scroll section isolated by a section with no indents. For some reason it also has an on/off button, although we never encountered a situation where it was accidentally activated, so we're not sure of the purpose. The two buttons beneath the touchpad sink far too much into the base when pressing to be comfortable, feeling sluggish and non responsive as a result.

The keyboard has possibly the best response we've had on a notebook, and the separated numpad will keep accountancy geeks happy, rather than having to do the function key dance.

Blue LED lit capacitive touch buttons above the keyboard give access to HP's "Quick Play" application suite -- a media centre that will run DVDs, let you watch television over the notebook's analog/digital tuner, access Vista's game browser, play music, or, heaven forbid, sing karaoke. The rest are the usual smattering of media player controls, with a wireless on/off and volume/treble/bass control to boot. A fingerprint reader sits smack in the middle of all of these, surrounded by piano black, a not so sensible choice considering it's somewhere you'll be continuously swiping your finger, leaving residue behind. A pointless optical drive eject button sits at the far right, around three centimetres away from the actual eject button on the drive itself.

To the left is a Windows Media Center compatible remote control, for all intents and purposes looking like a mobile phone. This needs to be released from the base using a momentary switch, but it'll function just fine if you leave it in. The docking bay it's kept in isn't as insulated as well as the rest of the notebook, meaning that the remote ends up feeling quite toasty when you remove it.

To match the monolithic notebook, a monolithic power adaptor is included, the power brick weighing in at around double the size of the average.

Features
It's as if the designer took one look at the notebook shelf, and said "Yep! We'll have everything!" An HD DVD ROM sits to the right, although the 1,680x1,050 resolution of the screen will mean you'll only get true 1080p viewing by pushing video out the HDMI port on the left. VGA is also available, but there's a great lack of DVI and no HDMI > DVI converter is included, which means punters will have to buy a third party cable.

Four USB ports, one firewire, an SD/MS/MMC/xD card reader and express port finish out the pluggables, with the startling inclusion of an eSATA port, which we can only commend. HP's proprietary "Expansion Port 3" is there as well for HP bought docks, but frankly we would have preferred a DVI port. On the back is output for up to 7.1 sound, S-Video output and an aerial jack for the TV tuner.

On the networking side things are near complete, with Intel A/G/N wireless, gigabit Ethernet, and BlueTooth 2.0. There is no dial-up modem.

The hardware is nothing short of impressive -- including an Intel Core 2 Extreme X7800, at 2.6GHz. The benefit of the Extreme series is that it comes multiplier unlocked, allowing overclockers to get a bit more out of their system -- however HP does not offer any settings in its BIOS or software tools to take advantage of this, and a fair chunk of money could be saved by taking a slightly less speedy non-extreme edition, for which the average user will never see the speed difference. Dual 200GB hard drives, 2GB RAM, and an ATI Mobility Radeon 2600 complete the specs, meaning that the unit could potentially be a decent mobile video editing station as well -- although the 5400RPM hard drives could hinder this. While the ATI mobility Radeon 2600 is a DirectX 10 capable card, there are better solutions available from NVIDIA for gaming, so best to keep this as a multimedia device.

The default install was Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit, the first circumstance we've seen of a non-32-bit default install on a notebook. In a bizarre cross-branding, Google Toolbar was installed for Internet Explorer, yet Yahoo was set as the default search engine and homepage of the unit.

A lower model with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7700, a DVD+-RW in place of the HD DVD ROM and Vista Home Premium exists, and will knock a hefty AU$1,000 off the AU$5,999 asking price of our review unit. We apologise to those whose dreams just got broken and are sobbing in the corner over the cost. High rollers though, step this way.

Performance
Of course the performance was always going to be through the roof with this thing, although offerings like Alienware's SLI notebooks will clearly dominate the gaming aspect. 3DMark06 gave back a decent 4228, while PCMark05 gave a mind boggling 5586.

The sound is flat out the best thing we've heard in a notebook, although given the size this isn't surprising. Nonetheless it certainly helps fulfil the HDX's role as a media centre.

All of this power however contributes a massive power bill, and after turning off all power saving functions and setting the screen to maximum brightness, the nine-cell battery only survived 58 minutes while playing back a DVD. We don't expect this to spend long time away from wall power as it is, so the low battery time is unlikely to affect most people.

HP's Pavilion HDX is quite possibly the best example of a "because we can" item that we've seen in a while -- most will opt to save and simply buy a normal HTPC -- but for those who don't mind dabbling on the luxury side, are attracted to insane power and like showing off, then it's a must buy item.

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Smiles
8
Rating
 

Smiles posted a review   
Australia

The Good:big screen, nice and large keyboard

The Bad:size

All thought this computer has a large screen and keyboard, when it was brought for me it was called a lap top
we were expecting a laptop that can be carried around.
i'm the second user of this computer and so far there is sill no problems.
It has crashed for the first user but that was for taking out the power thingy before clicking the 'safely remove plug in'
this is a awesome computer and if you want to buy it remember it is not a lap top and can not be carried around

AlexD Facebook
9
Rating
 

AlexD posted a review   
United States

The Good:-Great screen resolution and size
-Behemoth processing capabilities
-Sleek & Cool
-Awesome features such as a remote and fingerprint scanner
-Subwoofer built in to the bottom
-Fantastic sound quality- hell, it's got a subwoofer!
-Good operating system & specs (Windows Home Ultimate)
-Awesome RAM (Plus the option of an additional 4 GB)
-Good keyboard response

The Bad:-Size and weight
-Price (This one's the kicker)
-Battery life is miniscule (though you can't epect much with a computer of this size and operating specs)
-Lack of a monitor clasp may make buyers a bit nervous
-Blu-Ray -or the lack thereof- might be a turnoff to some

YES. This laptop seems to be what I have always been looking for- a giant screen with an ultra-fast processor and great memory. The design is... different, but in a good way. I like the dual-hinge idea. One thing I found odd was the lack of a lock mechanism to hold the screen to the base when folded- I don't want anything breaking due to unnecessary stress to the hinge.
While the lack of a Blu-Ray option does disappoint me a bit, I'm not that worried because I don't ever utilize BluRay discs- yet. While this may change, I'm not that worried about it right now. One other thing I thought was kind of neat was the fingerprint scanner- while sensibly pointless, it's just cool.

Mags
6
Rating
 

Mags posted a review   

The Good:Large screen & decent sound with reasonable grunt to match.

The Bad:Not enough customisable options for those oulaying this much and demanding cutting edge. No Bluray writer or choice of video cards. Default 5400 rpm HDD's too slow on this beast, with limited 7200 upgrade choice (and no RAID option). Inability for screen to display 1920*1200 resolution for HD is HP's biggest mistake i.m.o.

A decent candidate as a replacement for a desktop, giving portability when required. Also not too pricey for those fortunate enough to be able to claim it on tax or salary sacrifice.

Ben
9
Rating
 

Ben posted a review   

This is great for those that want a desktop but want to get the tax benefits of salary sacrafice for a notebook. The line between notebook and desktop blur. GOOD!!!

RizzyDizz
9
Rating
 

RizzyDizz posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Everything except...

The Bad:...the thing is going to be hot and heavy!

One word: *Nerdgasm*

blaah
8
Rating
 

blaah posted a review   
New Zealand

perhaps there should be some comparison with the Dell XPS 2010, although it does use last generation hardware

mayur
10
Rating
 

mayur posted a review   

the looks are really good..its a perfect teenagers laptop.

mayur
10
Rating
 

mayur posted a review   

the looks are really good..its a perfect teenagers laptop.

saxenasom1
10
Rating
 

saxenasom1 posted a review   
India

It is a perfect ten.At least from the view of a student.It shows that the person who designed must have been a teenager at some point of time

adem
7
Rating
 

adem posted a review   
India

The Good:good

The Bad:good

veryvery good




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User Reviews / Comments  HP Pavilion HDX - 'Dragon'

  • Smiles

    Smiles

    Rating8

    "All thought this computer has a large screen and keyboard, when it was brought for me it was called a lap top
    we were expecting a laptop that can be carried around.
    i'm the second us..."

  • AlexD

    AlexD

    Rating9

    "YES. This laptop seems to be what I have always been looking for- a giant screen with an ultra-fast processor and great memory. The design is... different, but in a good way. I like the dual-hinge ..."

  • Mags

    Mags

    Rating6

    "A decent candidate as a replacement for a desktop, giving portability when required. Also not too pricey for those fortunate enough to be able to claim it on tax or salary sacrifice."

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