It's always shocking when you realize the full breadth of HP's desktop product launches. Out of HP's four new desktop series, we count 10 new desktops set to hit stores in February. And that doesn't count the customizable counterparts at HP's Web site. All of these systems use chassis and hardware we've seen before, but what's most exciting is what you get for your money. We'll go over the highlights briefly:
HP Pavilion SlimLine s3300 Series (includes the s3300f, the s3320f, the s3330f):
HP's small form factor PC will range from $549 to $949. Not much has changed since we first saw this scaled down computer last year. All come with dual-core CPUs, wireless networking (802.11b/g, no N or Bluetooth, disappointingly), and at least some degree of expandability. The most exciting news in this series is the $949 s3330f, which comes with a hybrid Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive. We gave a strong recommendation to the similar Pavilion SlimLine s3200t, which cost $1,540 this past November. That you'll be able to get a similar system for $500 less in a month makes that particular model especially enticing as a small-scale home theater PC.
HP Pavilion Desktop a6300 Series (includes the a6300f, a6330f):
The Pavilion Desktop remains HP's everyday PC that's not quite a budget system but doesn't aspire to any gaming or digital media editing heights. Starting at $549, you'll find dual-core CPUs in the various configs, as well as 500GB hard drives and 3GB of RAM in the higher-end model. Don't expect quad-core CPUs at this price range (at least in this half of 2008), or wireless networking or HD optical drives. Instead these systems offer the basic Windows computing experience, with a few HP-specific extras thrown in, such as its Photosmart Essentials software.
HP Pavilion Media Center PC m8330 Series (includes m8300f, m8330f):
With the m8300 Series, HP starts to add performance and functionality. The entry price for the m8300f is $759, and while we don't have details on that particular system, the $959 m8330f includes AMD's new Phenom 9500 quad-core CPU. Other features include a 15-in-1 media card reader, multiple large hard drives, a TV tuner and a Windows Media Center remote control. With no high-end graphics cards, gaming will be limited, but for burning, encoding, editing, and playing your digital media, these systems should serve well
HP Pavilion Elite PC m9100 Series (includes m9150, m9160, and m9180):
We gave HP flack for its Pavilion Elite m9040n and the amount of internal space that system wasted between two special bays for HP's proprietary removable hard drives, neither of which is included with the system. Sadly, HP hasn't revamped the design in its new Pavilion Elites, so you can expect the same frustration. If you really need to take two different removable hard drives with you, perhaps you'll take an interest, but add $300 to the Elite's $1,159 starting price to populate both spare bays. Fortunately, the base price does include Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU (which remains superior to AMD's Phenom chips), as well as an HD-DVD drive, 3GB of RAM, a TV tuner, and plenty of hard drive space.