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HP Pavilion HDX9000 review: HP Pavilion HDX9000

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Our review sample of the HDX9000 uses an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500. This has a pair of cores, each running at 2.2GHz and sharing 4MB of Level 2 cache. It is, as you might expect, pretty nippy, but the good news for speed freaks is that it can be upgraded. HP gives you the option of an Intel Core 2 Extreme X7900 running at 2.8GHz -- the fastest laptop chip on the market. As standard, 2GB of RAM is supplied, with 4GB available if you're more demanding.

Storage in the HDX9000 is impressive for a laptop. Ours shipped with a pair of 200GB Toshiba MK2035GSS hard drives, one for storing the operating system, applications and the like, and the other for stashing your files. The Dragon can accommodate up to half a terabyte of storage over two 250GB hard drives, but we challenge anyone who isn't a file-sharing pirate to run out of space in a hurry.

Also impressive was the addition a Toshiba TS-L802A HD DVD-ROM drive. This allows playback of HD DVD movies, which you can either watch on the laptop or on a television via an HDMI cable (not included). It can't write to HD-DVD discs, but it'll burn dual-layer DVD+R discs at up to 2.4x, or DVD+RW discs at 4x, which is fine for backup purposes and burning DVD movies.

Whether you're watching HD DVD or telly on the built-in Freeview tuner, the integrated speaker system sounds surprisingly good, partly because of an integrated subwoofer on the base of the laptop. It won't wake the neighbours, but it provides a well-balanced sound. Audiophiles can connect headphones to ports at the front of the laptop, or external speakers to audio outputs at the rear.

The RF aerial socket for the integrated Freeview tuner lets you watch TV straight out of the box

The machine has various extras, which you'll mainly find useful for showing off to your friends. There's a fingerprint reader; array mics (for more accurate voice recognition) an ExpressCard reader and 2-megapixel webcam. The most useful of its extras is probably the 12-in-1 memory card reader, which comes in handy for transferring images from your digital camera or MP3 player.

The software package doesn't present many surprises. You get Windows Vista Home Premium Edition, Microsoft Works 8.0 and a bundle of multimedia programs including Roxio Creator Premier, Muvee AutoProducer Premium and SerifWeb Plus. There's no Web security software, so we recommend you buy or download an antivirus application as soon as you buy the laptop, or feel the wrath of a thousand viruses.

The HDX9000 has a very well-rounded specification. We'd even go as far as calling it high end. It failed to run our PCMark 2005 and 3DMark 2006 benchmarks, but in the week or two we tested it, it felt easily as fast as any Vista laptop we've used. It will feel really comfortable and quick whether you're browsing the Web, editing audio or video, or even playing games.

These 20-inch laptops aren't designed to have long battery life, and the HDX9000 is no different. Its nine-cell battery lasted 58 minutes in our Battery Eater test, but that's easily forgivable. As long as it's got enough battery life to carry between rooms in the home, it's good enough for us.

The Pavilion HDX9000 is the best 20-inch laptop we've seen. Its physical design isn't quite as extravagant as the Dell XPS M2010, and it lacks a handle, but it's more attractive, more powerful and is ultimately the best desktop replacement laptop money can buy.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday

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