Following HP's now classic chassis design, with the wave-like speaker grill rolling into the strong monitor hinge and the silky smooth touchpad, the Pavilion dv2840TX Artist Edition differs in a few not so subtle ways. The most glaringly obvious is the heavily Japanese-influenced illustration laid against a mustard-coloured lid, and the continuation of that illustration through to the wrist rest. While our first reaction was "eesh, that's loud", over time we've grown used to it, and taken a little pride in the stares it attracts as you pull it out of your bag. The fact that it was designed as part of an international competition by a Portuguese artist Joao Oliveira makes it that little bit cooler, although it makes us wonder if HP's next step is true self-customisation, and the mess that would entail.
The theme carries to the Windows desktop, and there's even a neat animation in the "Meet Your Computer" application that would make an excellent screensaver, sans annoying electronic soundtrack — unfortunately this option isn't included.
Excluding the gold touchpad, the remaining interior of the laptop is coloured a rich chocolate brown, leaving the underside in typical matte black. The usual trimmings are there — a row of capacitive touch media buttons along the to; a webcam in the middle of the 14-inch, 1,280x800 glossy screen; and a hot air vent that smartly faces out the rear of the machine. The laptop keyboard has gone from silky smooth to matte — while this isn't an issue in itself, the action feels cheaper than that of the Thrive.
The most notable change from the larger Thrive is that of a DVD writer rather than Blu-ray drive, and there's no option to upgrade. For most, this won't be an issue.
Connectivity is a little light with only two USB ports; however, other areas are decently catered for with S-Video, VGA and HDMI out, FireWire, Express Card 54, and a built in 56Kbps modem port, the age of which is evidence of how far Australian broadband has to go. HP has opted to cut out gigabit Ethernet, opting for a 100Mbit port — although if you don't operate a gigabit network at home or work, this is unlikely to fluster you. Finally, the front lip offers a manual switch for turning wireless on and off, an IR port (for the remote that's designed to handily fit in the Express Card slot), microphone jack and dual-headphone jacks.
The internals are reasonable, with an Intel Core 2 Duo T8300, 2GB RAM and GeForce 8400M GS purring away, which should be more than enough for movie watching, office work, Internet browsing or even a bit of toying around in Photoshop, but gamers would be restricted to the Half-Life 2 era as the video card isn't nearly powerful enough for modern games.
On our review model, desktop crapware had been greatly minimised, and although the homepage was still set to AOL, installed applications were found only in the Start Menu and not cluttering and clogging every hole. If this is the case for the products on the shelf, we're greatly impressed.
Installing our benchmark suite confirmed the above assertions, 3DMark06 delivering an adequate 1,732, and PCMark05 a score of 5,203. Turning off all power-saving features and setting the monitor brightness and volume to maximum, we played back a DVD in order to test the battery, placing it under highly strained conditions. It lasted one hour, 16 minutes and 40 seconds before it conked out, a somewhat disappointing score. Obviously with power saving features turned on and placed under less strenuous conditions, a longer battery life would be observed.
The Pavilion dv2840TX Artist Edition inherits its best features from those already established in the rest of HP's range. If you're after something funky with enough grunt to do your daily tasks, this is the one for you. If you'd prefer a bit of luxury, go for the Thrive instead.