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With the HD-friendly Pavilion dv9000t, HP shows that it continues to take entertainment seriously when designing its laptops. The latest iteration of the desktop replacement incorporates a bevy of high-end components, such as a Core 2 Duo processor, discrete Nvidia graphics, and a built-in HD-DVD drive, into its lightweight case. Add in the dv9000t's sleek design, with its echoes of consumer electronics devices, and you have a system that will look as good in the living room as on the desktop. While the new processor didn't add up to the greatest performance we've seen (that distinction belongs to more gaming-oriented systems, such as the Dell XPS M1710), the HP Pavilion dv9000t is a great choice for home users who want their laptop to double as an entertainment system.
A true desktop replacement, the HP Pavilion dv9000t measures 15.2 inches wide, 11.7 inches deep, and 1.6 inch thick, and it weighs 7.8 pounds. That's too bulky to carry around with you every day, but it is smaller than both the Dell XPS M1710 and the Gateway NX850XL.
Key features on the entertainment-oriented Pavilion dv9000t are the built-in HD-DVD drive and the accompanying 17-inch wide-screen display, features that put it in direct competition with the Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV650. With a native resolution of 1,440x900, the Pavilion dv9000t's glossy screen is good for watching high-def content, though we'd prefer a finer 1,920x1,200 resolution, as found on the Sony VAIO AR series. It's a small quibble, though: in our--ahem--extensive movie-watching tests, we found that the screen produced rich colors and sharp details, and there's plenty of screen real estate for traditional computer work, as well. Like all Pavilion laptops, the dv9000t includes a row of light-touch buttons above the keyboard that launch the media player and provide volume and playback controls; a somewhat annoying, high-pitched beep lets you know when you've pressed a button (the beep can be disabled in the system BIOS). Altec Lansing stereo speakers, located above those controls, deliver decent sound, though we prefer the speakers on the Qosmio G35.
For less cinematic pursuits, HP includes a built-in 1.3-megapixel Webcam above the display; two built-in microphones on the display bezel eliminate the need for an external microphone while videoconferencing. Like almost all desktop replacements, the Pavilion dv9000t's keyboard is full-size and includes a 10-key numeric keypad. The somewhat compact touch pad includes a scroll zone, and we love the touch pad on/off button, which is handy when you want to use an external mouse.
The dv9000t has a typical array of ports and connections for a desktop replacement, and they're well distributed and clearly labeled. You get one four-pin-FireWire and four USB 2.0 connections, plus a VGA out, an S-Video out, a 5-in-1 media card reader (Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, and xD), and a slot for the latest ExpressCards. In addition to a microphone jack, there are two headphone jacks--great for sharing movies and music with friends--one of which supports S/PDIF output. Networking options include an Ethernet jack, a modem, and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The aforementioned HD-DVD drive is also a double-layer DVD burner with LightScribe, which lets you burn your own labels onto compatible discs.
Our Pavilion dv9000t preview unit ran on Windows XP Professional, but the default configuration for consumers will include Windows XP Media Center Edition. HP bundles a decent amount of software with the system, including the Microsoft Works 8 productivity suite, basic photo-editing software, and applications for disc viewing and burning.