HP Pavilion HDX - 'Dragon' review: HP Pavilion HDX - 'Dragon'

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Huge screen. Great speakers. HD DVD drive. Fast processor. 7.1 external sound. HDMI port.

The Bad Incredibly heavy. Monitor hinge can be clumsy. No monitor clasp to hold it to the base. Blu-ray option not available. Squishy mouse buttons. Battery guzzler.

The Bottom Line HP's Pavilion HDX is quite possibly the best "because we can" item that we've seen in a while -- but for those who don't mind dabbling on the luxury side, it's a must buy item.

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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.

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Where to Buy

HP Pavilion HDX - 'Dragon'

Part Number: CNETHP Pavilion HDX - 'Dragon'

Typical Price: $5,999.00

See manufacturer website for availability.