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With a fast processor, Blu-ray drive and 18-inch 1080p screen, the HP HDX X18's spec sheet reads like a wishlist of the components you'd want in any entertainment laptop. But the configuration reviewed here, the HDX X18-1005EA, priced at around £1,200, isn't exactly wallet-friendly. Is it worth the considerably outlay?
The X18 is a big bruiser of a laptop, but all that extra space is put to good use with a stunning 18-inch screen. The display is fantastically bright, produces superb-looking colours and also has a 'Full HD' 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, so you can enjoy high-definition movies at their best via the built-in Blu-ray drive.
What's more, the X18 also doubles up as a TV. It has a built-in TV tuner, so you can connect up the mini external aerial, sit back and relax, controlling the X18 via either a Windows Media Center remote or the smaller included remote, which can be neatly stored away in the PC Card slot.
Unfortunately, the laptop refused to complete our PCMark05 benchmark tests. But, in use, the combination of the Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 2.26GHz processor and generous 4GB of RAM means that the X18 feels very speedy when multitasking.
Plus, it's Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT GPU helped it deliver a top-class result of 5,027 in 3DMark06, so you should have few problems using it to play the latest games. Given all this power, you wouldn't expect much in the way of battery life. But this model surprised us, running for 3 hours and 3 minutes in the intensive Battery Eater Classic test.
Thanks to the twin 250GB hard drives, there's plenty of space for storing photos, music and movies. Connectivity is also top-notch. There's an HDMI connector for hooking the X18 up to a TV or projector, as well as three USB ports, an eSATA port and FireWire. Wireless-n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also supported.
The X18 boasts a good speaker set-up. Laptops are notorious for producing poor sound from their speakers -- even most entertainment laptops struggle in this regard. But the X18's stereo Altec Lansing speakers and mini subwoofer mean it produces a surprisingly full-bodied sound that won't embarrass your favourite tunes.
Our quibbles with the X18 mainly concern its design. HP has gone overboard with the wavy lines on the lid and trackpad, as well as with the silver finish on the keyboard. Consequently, the laptop looks slightly too showy for our liking. There's also a HP logo on the bottom of the lid that lights up when the laptop is turned on. This type of lit-up logo may look good on Apple laptops, but it comes across as tacky advertising on the X18.
We weren't overly taken with the trackpad either. Like many of HP's latest laptops, it has a glossy finish that feels quite sticky under your finger, which is very distracting at first. We much prefer the matte finish that most other manufacturers use. Furthermore, the buttons on the pad feel too spongy to the touch, so you feel you have to press relatively hard on them to register button pushes.
The HP HDX X18's design won't appeal to everyone, and the asking price is steep, but there's no denying that the X18 is hugely powerful and offers pretty much everything you could want from an entertainment laptop.
Edited by Charles Kloet