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

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On the networking side things are near complete, with Intel A/G/N wireless, gigabit Ethernet, and BlueTooth 2.0. There is no dial-up modem.

The hardware is nothing short of impressive -- including an Intel Core 2 Extreme X7800, at 2.6GHz. The benefit of the Extreme series is that it comes multiplier unlocked, allowing overclockers to get a bit more out of their system -- however HP does not offer any settings in its BIOS or software tools to take advantage of this, and a fair chunk of money could be saved by taking a slightly less speedy non-extreme edition, for which the average user will never see the speed difference. Dual 200GB hard drives, 2GB RAM, and an ATI Mobility Radeon 2600 complete the specs, meaning that the unit could potentially be a decent mobile video editing station as well -- although the 5400RPM hard drives could hinder this. While the ATI mobility Radeon 2600 is a DirectX 10 capable card, there are better solutions available from NVIDIA for gaming, so best to keep this as a multimedia device.

The default install was Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit, the first circumstance we've seen of a non-32-bit default install on a notebook. In a bizarre cross-branding, Google Toolbar was installed for Internet Explorer, yet Yahoo was set as the default search engine and homepage of the unit.

A lower model with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7700, a DVD+-RW in place of the HD DVD ROM and Vista Home Premium exists, and will knock a hefty AU$1,000 off the AU$5,999 asking price of our review unit. We apologise to those whose dreams just got broken and are sobbing in the corner over the cost. High rollers though, step this way.

Performance
Of course the performance was always going to be through the roof with this thing, although offerings like Alienware's SLI notebooks will clearly dominate the gaming aspect. 3DMark06 gave back a decent 4228, while PCMark05 gave a mind boggling 5586.

The sound is flat out the best thing we've heard in a notebook, although given the size this isn't surprising. Nonetheless it certainly helps fulfil the HDX's role as a media centre.

All of this power however contributes a massive power bill, and after turning off all power saving functions and setting the screen to maximum brightness, the nine-cell battery only survived 58 minutes while playing back a DVD. We don't expect this to spend long time away from wall power as it is, so the low battery time is unlikely to affect most people.

HP's Pavilion HDX is quite possibly the best example of a "because we can" item that we've seen in a while -- most will opt to save and simply buy a normal HTPC -- but for those who don't mind dabbling on the luxury side, are attracted to insane power and like showing off, then it's a must buy item.

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