The HP Pavilion HDX Entertainment Notebook PC also known as the Dragon due to the imprint design in its case is a true lifestyle PC, especially if you are a one who likes the best of the best. This laptop has just about all of it, the model HP Pavilion HDX9200 Notebook PC.
This unit is fully loaded with everything:
HDX System Specs
Genuine Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit)
Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Extreme Processor X9000 (2.80GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
20.1" diagonal WUXGA High-Definition HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen (1920x1200)-"True HD" 1080p res
4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm)
512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS
HP Imprint Finish (Dragon) + Fingerprint Reader + Webcam + Microphone
Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth(TM)
500GB 5400RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (250GB x 2)
Primary CD/DVD Drive:
Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer
TV & Entertainment Experience:
Integrated HP HDTV Hybrid TV Tuner and 4 Altec Lansing speakers +the HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer
9 Cell Lithium Ion Battery
18.7 inches/47.5 cm (L) x 13.36 inches/33.95 cm (W) x 2.3 inches/5.85 cm (min H/max H)
Out of Box Experience
Its a pretty big box. We brought the box to the scale we found that the box weighs in at 26 lbs, the laptop alone only weighs 16.6lbs with battery/15.5lbs without, yes only. :)
Carefully taking the HDX out of the box, I actually experienced something that only comes with very few electronic devices. A pleasant out of the box experience. It even has writing on the inside of the box lid (see picture upper right), which is far from the norm or brown boxes most HP laptops come in.
Upon opening the box you see a large poster(I mean really large- 19x29") on one side and a quick start guide that tells you everything about the laptop and where it is located. I wish all laptops had these.
Underneath the poster lies a large black box with a remote control (more on that later) with a picture of a hand around the remote, I really liked it and that there was some thought to the packaging. You definitely feel like you are getting something special.
Opening the box you will find your typical laptop amenities the Power Brick, power cord, battery, an HD antenna, a standard RF antenna, F-connector antenna adapter, a pair of HP branded earbud headphones, IR transmitter, and a black box.We took out the battery and power cord began to charge it before turning it on surprisingly the charge light went off after 2 minutes.
The small black box holds a ton of pamphlets on the software installed on the system that we affectionately call "crapware", special offers, as well as some CDs for some of the installed software. There were no restore CDs/DVDs, just a pamphlet on how to create your own.
(I actually created a set of 3 recovery DVDs after stetting it up and it took quite a while about 3.5 hours.See above photos.) Another option is to purchase the recovery discs directly from HP for $19. Also in the box is a microfiber cloth for cleaning both the laptop screen and outside shiny surface that attracts a fair share of fingerprints.
One thing you may have noticed in that small black box that is something rare now when you purchase a laptop. An actual user manual. And it comes with useful tabs for easily finding information and how to use and setup your laptop. It is really well written for both the novice and advanced user. An online version of the HP Pavilion HDX Entertainmet Series Notebook PC - Maintenance and Service Guide is available here if you need more details or ever need to take it apart.
The power brick (and I mean brick) weighs in at 2.5 lbs. As you can see from the standard PC power connector to the transformer this baby needs alot of power to build the fire in the belly of this beast. The power supply has an operating voltage of 19VDC @ 9.5A delivering 180Watts of power.
Lifting open the lid on this made me feel like Indiana Jones opening up the sarcophagus that held the Ark and lifting this lid is pretty darn close. The are two locking mechanisms on the screen to the arm when folding it closed.
Opening the lid reveals a mesh linen material used to protect the screen from the keyboard. It could be reused again to prevent grease from your fingers that stay on your keys from getting on your nice screen.
After all the heavy lifting is done you see a really cool dual hinge design that allows you to move the display into various configurations and allows for fine forward and backward adjustments. The back of the display (or top of the lid depending if you have it open or closed) has an HP Logo that has a backlit glow to it like Apple computers.
The lid is already showing signs of being a real fingerprint magnet. Here you can see the nice dragon imprint finish on both the outside and on the inside bezel.
It is a full size keyboard just about the same you would find on a desktop. With the full keyboard and bezel making the laptop measure in at 18.5" wide, which has the comforts of your standard desktop PC and then some.
It would have been nice if the keys were backlit as a nice feature not really needed, but that is one thing I am envious of Apple hardware and Alienware for doing this with some of their laptops. Here you can see where the full featured remote control lies in a bay to the left of the keyboard and even works in its storage compartment. There is a simple slide catch release that releases and locks the remote into place to the right of the remote control. On the bezel it wears just a few badges of honor - one for the Intel Core 2 Extreme, Windows Vista, and NVIDIA PureVideo HD.
Its big really big here are some size comparisons with some other laptops in the house. It even dwarfs the large 17" HP laptop that used to be the largest in the house. With the left edge lined up 20" display towers over the 17" and peaks out from behind it even on an angle.
The picture on the left is my small Fujitsu P1610 on the keyboard of the HP HDX Dragon. On the right Here is a screen to screen comparison with the P1610
The TX2000 with 12" display on the left and the DV6000 14" display on the right. You can clearly see the same web page and the amount of screen real estate is viewable with a larger screen.
Riding Around the Dragon
There are alot of ports on this computer and that is a good thing.
On the front left there are 3 LED lights for Power, Battery, and Hard drive. In the center is a consumer IR port (for the remote control) an audio in jack for a microphone and 2 audio out headphone jacks so you can share your media experience. Unfortunately they are analog only and don't have optical SPDIF support via an adapter like some of their other laptops.
On the back are two vents for cooling on each side of the back of the laptop. On the right side there is a power jack on the far right as well as ports for surround sound speakers. On the left(bottom picture from above) has an Infrared(IR) emitter jack for controlling cable and satellite set top boxes,TV audio-in jack, S-Video-in jack, and an RF coaxial cable jack.
On the left side there are 2 USB ports, an RJ45 network jack, a 15pin VGA display adapter, a HP Expansion port 3 jack(why I don't know- Do you really need a docking station for this laptop and if you do I would love to see it),an HDMI port, eSATA port(all new laptops should have these and more than one), 1394 "Firewire" port, Digital Media slot LED, Digital Media Slot that supports SD,MS/Pro,MMC,and XD and an ExpressCard/34 Slot. The digital Media slot had no problem reading SDHC cards or running ReadyBoost with it.
On the right side there is a Kensington security lock,Optical drive that burns DVDs, CDs, and their Re-Writables as well as a BluRay player. There are also 2 more USB ports.
Yeah there is no wasted modem port on this laptop, even though it could fit it, knowing its customers well. We would have liked to have seen an additional USB port on the back.
Starting it up
On first boot up you will get the logo screen with a few options to choose on bootup by pressing the appropriate Function keys.
Booting it up you have to go through the standard EULA acceptance.
You also have to set up your Vista User Icon
Pick a desktop, there are 3 custom Dragon wallpaper backgrounds to choose from.
You are asked how you want to protect your computer with Windows Updates, Set the Date & Time and time zone and you think you are all set.
Well you are on the Vista side of the house. Next comes the HP software setup. :)
There is an install of HP's preloaded software this takes about 12 minutes and there is no way to opt out of this.
You are next asked to personalize it, basically register your computer for warranty and remote service. I suggest you do it now, it takes about 20 seconds or you can opt to register later, which it will nag you pretty much until you do so it can't hurt.
You can also opt in to HP's Total Care where they notify you for driver updates and enhancements if you do run Windows Update it may ask you to check with HP first. If you can self-manage it yourself or fix it only when broke, you can avoid this and save some memory/processor clock cycles. You are also asked to provide anonymous feedback. Next it will find your internet connection or help you set it up if you don't already have one.
There are also some "special offers", which I just skipped over.
After another 5 minutes of bootup and hard drive activity we are finally ready to "Enter the Dragon" after closing down the Welcome Screen, but you can get a nice glance at its specs, which brings a nice smile to one's face. :)
Well not quite while using the HDX I got prompted by Norton begging to be installed so I bit to see if it had any real impact on the overall performance, but not after checking it out first and looking at the Performance scores. Not to be left out HP also has some updates to install.
System specs rate this system, well as you can guess pretty well. The Windows Experience Index was an overall 5.1, with the Intel Core2 Extreme CPU X900 at 2.8GHz pulling a 5.6 subscore, the NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS pulling a 5.9, Gaming Graphics 2303MB of total avaliable memory was at 5.8, The Primary hard disk(219GB) and the 4GB DDR2 RAM each pulled a 5.1. I wonder if you were able to upgrade the two WDC WD2500BEVS-60USTO hard drives (a 7200RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive-200GBX2 is now available) and find faster 667 memory to up the performance of this laptop. In the HP TX2000 a WDC WD25 00BEVS-60UST SCSI Disk pulls a WEI score of 5.2 and the 4GB of memory(which may be 800mHz RAM) pull a score of 5.8. However its performance is almost on par with my desktop which rocks at only 5.3 due to the processor and memory needing to be upgraded soon, the rest clocks in at 5.9. So this laptop definitely fits the bill as a desktop replacement from the WEI score.
There are also a few programs installed as well, that you can manually uninstall, which takes about 20 minutes to do and a few reboots.
Buttons and not Gumdrop Buttons:
On the top left there is a recessed Power Button and next to that are QuickPlay buttons - for launching Quick Play for music,video and picture playback, DVD playback,and quick television viewing. Then there is a set of Media Buttons-Rewind,Stop,Play/Pause,and Fast Forward.
A theater mode button, fingerprint scanner, wireless on/off button, mute button and a Volume scroll bar.
Next to the Volume bar is a Treble/Bass Toggle with touch sensitive adjustment scroll bar and an Eject button for the optical drive. HP claims there are 16 buttons in total on the this laptop, the finger print scanner is considered a button.
Enrolling your fingerprints is a fairly easy process using the DigitalPersona Personal software and takes about 3 minutes to enroll your 6 main fingers and 2 thumbs. You can use the access for websites, logons, and anywhere you may need a password.
The finger print scanner after being used to enroll all the fingers into the software left the fingerprint scanner with a ton of fingerprints.
The most unique button I have see on this laptop is the Theater mode button that is located to the left of the fingerprint scanner. The Theater mode button turns the backlight off for all the buttons so it won't be distracting when watching a movie. The only one that is illuminated is the theater mode light, even the power, charge . You can even customize the Media console button sound, which sounds great out of those 4 Altec Lansing speakers hidden behind the plastic grill in the display's bezel.
You can see how bright the lights are when playing back a movie. You really notice it when the lights are turned off. (You may have to click on the above pictures to see what I mean. Also the flash of my camera washed out the image on the TV in the picture on the right.)
Here is a close up of the keyboard and the lights both on and off via the Theater button.
The touchpad can also be turned off by pressing a button as found on most HP laptops, which is a must have for gamers.When disabled the LED changes from blue to amber.
The only bad thing about the remote control is that it isn't back lit and using it in poorly lit or lightly lit area is very difficult to use.
The remote control has four very small rubber feet on the bottom so it doesn't slide away on any surface. It pretty much stays put. The large silver Directional Pad is very comfortable to use and has some great ergonomics for both left and right handed users, which is very surprising in such a small form factor.
The green button is in the center of the remote. The play, rewind, fast forward, stop media buttons are rather thin as well as the rest of the buttons you would find on a Media Center Remote control. Surrounding the directional pad are icons for HP's QuickPlay as well at the very top. From left to right Print pictures in My pictures window in QuickPlay only, switch screens between display and external displays,Snapshot of screen to clipboard, and theatre mode which dims the lights on the laptop. Some of these just aren't needed and clutter up the remote with useless buttons that one may accidentally fumble and press. I actually did find the screen capture button more convenient than pressing Fn +Home to get the Print Screen.
The Media Center interface looks very good on this laptop. As a Media Center PC you can guess this laptop performs very well with its large display, Blu-Ray DVD drive, processor, video graphics card, etc.The pictures don't really do it justice since it is truly something that has to be experienced.
Madonna LIVE in Concert, which just happened recently was available for viewing courtesy of MSN and Control Room, which has some greatly filmed concerts that sounded great on the 4 speakers and subwoofer.
I also had to play the Hives live in concert again to see if had the same enjoyment on my big screen at home. I was amazed how the speakers seemed loud around the computer, but if you walked away from it the sound stayed pretty contained to a radius around the computer.
If you do want some extra thump you can hook up your laptop to some external speakers. There are left, right, surround, and subwoofer hookups at the rear of the laptop with full 7.1 surround sound support. There is no optical out to hook it up to your sound receiver since SPDIF out is over HDMI only. Over the HDMI out port I was able to watch The Hives play on my LCD television as well as my 11' diagonal projector screen and Yamaha RXV2700 receiver and my house speakers. Getting the sound to come out over HDMI was a bit of a problem and required a simple change that seems to common with most HP laptops with HDMI out.
To setup audio out over HDMI required changing the default sound from the speakers to the Digital Output Devices (SPDIF) in the Sound settings in Control Panel. After that was done all you had to do was plug-in the HDMI cable and enjoy not only video out, but audio out as well.
If you notice Media Center and movie playback look fine, but in actuality the resolution is a bit off from the computer screen image.
If you look at the desktop and an Internet browser you can actually see that part of the sides of the computer screen is cut off. This is due to the computer outputting 16:10 and the television displaying 16:9. Some televisions allow you to configure your television to automatically compensate or make manual changes for horizontal and vertical changes for this and some don't. My HP LCD allowed me to make changes in screen size via the PC input(VGA) only and not via any of the 3 HDMI inputs.
You can also make some other changes to your display image via the NVIDIA software.
The HDX is the first laptop I have seen with an integrated HDTV Hybrid TV/Tuner by AverMedia, that works with (ATSC-over the air HDTV and NTSC). I was sad to see no inclusion of a QAM tuner, since most hardware is capable of doing so. The HDX comes with several ways of getting a signal into this Media Center very capable laptop.
It comes with a standard aerial antennae for standard definition transmission that will be going away in 2009 to make way for HDTV, an HDTV antennae for tuning in ATSC signals, and the last is an RF coaxial cable adapter that allows you to connect up a standard coaxial cable (F-connector).
In my area the digital antenna was able to find 33 different HD stations from the center of a room, with fairly poor signal strength when I moved the antenna to the window it resulted as you would guess in a much stronger signal. The suction cup on the bottom of the antenna ensures it doesn't move or tip over.
To compete the media center experience along with the included HP Dockable Media Center remote control is an Infrared (IR) transmiter cable that allows you to change the channels of your set top box(cable or satellite).
If you have an XBOX 360 or other Media Center extender you can move the experience to another location without having to move the laptop. The internal Intel PRO/Wireless card provided more than ample bandwidth over my Wireless-N network for connecting to my Xbox 360 and the bluetooth radio stack had no problem pairing with my Logitech diNovo Mini keyboard/remote.
OK if you can't guess from the specs given, this piece of hardware is huge! Huge in a good way it truly is a desktop replacement not only for productivity, but this thing can be a desktop replacement for audio and video editing as well as one nice gaming machine.
I have a few bags. OK alot. I had to go through 3 storage bins to find 1 bag to fit this behemoth and it barely fit, luckily it had an extended bottom. I brought it out to see what reaction I would elicit from a public environment. I placed a piece of acoustic foam on both sides of the bag to make sure nothing happened to it as well as placed it in a large plastic bag.
Perusing the HP website I found they do have a bag by Targus on it that is made for this hauling this laptop called the HP 20" Roller Case for Notebook PCs. Another option is to use some roll around luggage if you have some.
I met up with Jack Cook at Panera Bread to see how it would work in a mobile warrior's home from home.
When we got to Panera we had to move to another table because the Dragon HDX took up the entire table. We were able to find two tables pushed together and even then it wasn't large enough. While showing Jack how nice the screen was and playback of movies was. We had several people stop by to gasp in awe and wonderment at the beauty of this screen. We then gave a few people a go at it (after they wiped their hands down with some aniti-bacterial soap) and told them that we were giving it away with 30 other websites and they immediately hit their laptops to enter Absolute Vista's first contest.
Playing a movie Jack commented that the adjoining table was vibrating from the thumping of the Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer located on the bottom of the laptop while the movie Cars and Beowulf were playing. Regular DVD playback looked nice, but the high resolution of the screen seemed to beg for more. I was able to find a copy of the Last Samurai on BluRay when I got home that I got from CES and was simply amazed at the picture on both the laptop and play back on my 1080p HP LCD TV.
The battery only weighs 17.5 ounces so carrying another if you really need it isn't that much if you are comparing it to the weight of the laptop and/or the weight of the power supply. There is an optional 12 cell extended battery that will raise the bottom of the laptop up as an option for more power on the go. Surprisingly the 9 cell battery life isn't too bad under the HP Recommended Power setting under normal usage with WiFi on we averaged 3hrs and 10 minutes of use including using Media Center. Playing a movie at 70-100% volume averaged 2 hrs and 17 minutes for 3 different movies before the low battery warning in HP's MediaPlay software came on with 4% of battery left. Average movie playback with WiFi and Bluetooth on netted an average of exactly 2hrs. Of the the 3 movies I watched I was able to watch them all on battery power. Now this may not seem a big feat, but it is considering most power draw on laptops is directly related to the screen and the bigger the screen the more power required.
Battery life playing Crysis averaged 1 hour and 13 minutes before going into hibernation, which left us pretty impressed considering all that is going on with the the game pushing the CPUs and GPU to its limit and occasional use of the optical drive and hard drive. It was just enough time for me to get halfway through a game on easy mode. Crysis would play at 1920x1280 at very High detail, but it wasn't smooth enough for me, actually it was pretty slow.
So I knocked it down a notch to 1280x800 and still ran it at Very High(except Object Quality) via the Auto Detect settings and game play was smooth as butter. It is still the highest resolution I have played on a laptop, which others either can't play at all or run at that resolution. The highest resolution I had played on other laptops was only at 1024 x 768 and even then it wasn't as responsive as the HP HDX. The laptop didn't get hot at all, it was just a pleasant gaming experience. Granted Anti-Aliasing was off and if I knocked everything down to just High. Running at full screen ran a lot smoother and the frame rate was a bit more to my liking.
Before gaming on the Dragon a few updates and patches needed to be applied that are included in Vista Service Pack 1 among others that are needed in the first Windows Update which stated there were 64.
Running Windows Ultimate gives a few extra games like Texas Hold Em, which looks pretty good on this display.
You may be wondering if this laptop has got performance. Well feel rest assured that it does. The 45nm Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 processor with 6MB of shared L2 cache and an 800MHz front side bus working at 2.8GHz makes working with many processor intense applications like compiling code, rendering 3D images, editing video, playing games, etc. a sheer joy. Intel’s new 45nm technology infused with Hafnium technology, improved thermal management, more transistors, and Intel HD Boost allows the Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 to deliver an increase in executable instructions with less strain on the CPU. Couple all that raw processing power with NVIDIA's GeForce 8800M GTX 512MB GPU and 4GB of DDR2 memory, you got yourself a pretty capable gaming rig.
3D Mark scores are pretty impressive for a laptop. A P2625 3D Marks score, CPU Score of 5531, and Graphics score of 2234, but more impressive is real usage, tests are just that-tests. It had no problem running the beta Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, which all laptops I tried had it on failed to perform decently enough to move away from my gaming rig at home. The HDX handled it just like my gaming rig and it is very nice!
The Dragon is also a Workhorse
And yes it can be used for work too. However if you open any office application you will need to register it. Here you can see the default view easily allows for more than one page. It is very nice to work with. Running some graphic intensive applications like Autodesk's 3DStudio Max and Maya, I was able to render a 3D walk-through from an AutoCAD drawing and a 3D prototype fairly quickly (as fast as some very expensive dedicated PC workstations). Using Adobe Audition on the the large screen made it much easier to edit Podcasts and other sound files. I only wished there was a higher-end audio card in this laptop as an option from the Soundblaster 16bit card. I even installed Visual Studio 2008 and it compiled through some code that I knew took a while on my current laptop in no time. Not only can this laptop play hard it can work hard too.
Burn baby Burn.
There is quite a selection of multimedia sofware that comes with the HDX, some that works directly with the QuickPlay software, some with Media Center, some cohesively with Vista and some that runs independently like the titles from Cyberlink like Power2Go and Cyberlink DVD Suite Premium, which also provides the codec for Blu Ray playback. The optical drive can create CD-R/CD-RW or DVD-R/DVD-RW discs using various software packages included on the HDX. The inclusion of the BluRay drive to make this one great Media Experience when played on the 1080p display resolution at 1920x1200 pixels.
Another nice addition is MuVee6 for making videos and picture slideshows.
HP WebCam -Lights, Camera, Action!
The HP Webcam is pretty good. Not only does it have a blue LED to let you know when it is on it also tilts down to make sure you're framed properly in the image due to the height of the large display. On either side of the camera are two stereo microphones that are used for providing differential input to provide noise cancellation and subtract out background noise.
Using the popular Cyberlink YouCam software you can make your own YouTube videos and video conference with ease. My kids love using this software on the other HP laptops we have and find it easy to use as well as entertainment for hours using all the special effects. If you click on the image you can see the image quality is pretty good with an image of the included Getting Started manual.
A few personal adjustments had to be made to allow easier use of this larger than life laptop. I had to speed up the trackpad speed to its maximum speed because travel across this large 20.1" display takes a few strokes of the track pad to navigate across this screen. Even then you will only be able to traverse 2/3rds of the screen when maxed out a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels.
An external mouse is highly recommended. Traversing the large screen is much easier with one. I found that my Logitech MX Revolution mouse paired well with this laptop. It would have been nice if HP included a bluetooth or RF mouse with the same finish as the laptop, since it truly is a desktop replacement.
You can easily adjust the volume with some really cool UI on top of the screen with the touch sensitive buttons at the top of the keyboard bezel. You can also customize the bass and treble with a simple press of the button labeled (guess what) Treble and Bass. This will toggle an indicator light between the bass and treble and allow you to adjust it in the same way with a slight touch and drag over the touch pad, that will also be accompanied by clicks and a visualization.
I also removed a lot of unneeded software and removed programs like Vongo Tray from startup as well as the entire program from the computer since most of the movies are the same I currently get with my Starz subscription and On demand which I can view through the installed SlingPlayer software from my Slingbox. A newer version was available, but configuring and adding my Slingbox to the player was as simple as launching the software and running through the configuration in less than a minute. I also removed all the games and these programs: AIM,EA Link,alot of HP software, Microsoft Works, Serif WebPlus, The Sims, Vongo, Yahoo Toolbar, which took about 20 minutes as I stated towards the beginning of this review. I also did the usual shutdown and removal of unneeded services, if you are unsure of which ones to uninstall or disable I highly recommend TweakVista.
OK besides gaming, movie watching, web browsing and running office applications. This laptop can do a pretty good job as a nice rendering workstation for 3D Studio and Maya with no problems. It also makes a pretty good programmer's coding computer. I installed Visual Studio 2008 and compiled some code that I know would take a while and it flew through those computations like a hot knife through butter. This is really the fastest laptop I have every used and can be seriously be used for both work and play as true desktop replacement. If you are looking for a desktop replacement with a large screen and need portability the HP HDX Dragon is for you.