by Jerry Jackson
HP recently unveiled their latest additions to the “HDX” family of notebooks with the all new HDX 16 and HDX 18 multimedia notebooks. These notebooks feature large displays with a 16:9 screen ratio, impressive speakers with an integrated subwoofer, and an innovative touch-sensitive media control panel. Our first look gives you a sample of what you can expect from the large and impressive HDX18.
Our pre-production review unit of the HP HDX 18t features the following specs:
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 (2.8GHz, 1066MHz FSB, 6MB Level 2 cache)
- Operating system: Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
- Memory: 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (800MHz)
- Hard drive: 2 x 160GB (7200rpm)
- Screen:18″ HD HP Ultra Brightview Infinity glossy display (1920 x 1080)
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT with 512MB GDDR3
- Optical drive: Blu-Ray multi-drive
- Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, docking station port, microphone in, two audio out jacks, three USB ports, eSATA/USB, 5-in-1 card reader, ExpressCard slot, built-in TV tuner
- Wireless: 802.11a/g/n, Bluetooth 2.0
- Battery: 8-cell Lithium-ion battery (73W)
- Dimensions 17.17″ x 11.26″ 1.33-1.72″ (WxDxH)
- Weight: 8.94 lbs.
Our pre-production unit comes equipped with two 160GB hard drives, but this configuration will not be offered at the time of launch. The next closest available configuration will be a similar system with two 250GB 5400rpm hard drives ($2,049.99) or two 250GB 7200rpm hard drives ($2,149.99). This desktop replacement is clearly targeted at multimedia and gaming enthusiasts who want cutting-edge features and can afford the slightly higher price tag.
Build and Design
The HDX 18 shares several design elements with the rest of the updated HP Pavilion line, but more than size and weight separate the HDX 18 from its smaller siblings. First, HP the new 16:9 ratio display means you have more real-estate for text on websites, for multiple documents on the screen at the same time, or for a more “full-screen” view of HD movies that have been filmed in 16:9 format. The glossy metallic gray and silver “Imprint” finish looks fantastic. While we didn’t test the high-impact finish on our pre-production unit by dropping it repeatedly in our office, I can say the finish looks quite durable … though fingerprints show up quickly on the glossy finish.
While the HDX 18 is better suited as a desktop replacement than as a laptop, the notebook is quite well balanced when using it on your lap. Just be aware that after using the HDX 18 on your lap for about an hour and a half you might start to lose some feeling in your legs. This machine is really more like an 18-inch HDTV with a built-in computer.
Input and Output Ports
As expected with a notebook of this size, the number of ports on the HDX 18 is fairly impressive. Here’s a run down of the ports:
- Three USB 2.0 ports
- One eSATA/USB port
- Expansion Port 3 (docking station connector)
- ExpressCard slot
- Gigabit Ethernet
- 5-in-1 multi-card reader
- 2 audio out
- microphone in
- VGA monitor out
- HDMI out
- Built-in TV tuner
- Kensington lock slot
We’re always glad to see the dedicated docking station connection on HP’s consumer notebooks. HP is the only notebook manufacturer that still offers a dedicated docking station connector on their consumer notebooks. The USB docking stations offered by other consumer notebook manufacturers are really nothing more than fancy USB hubs … and don’t work nearly as well as “real” docking stations.
We’re also fans of the eSATA/USB combo port currently being used on the new HP notebooks. Although many consumers might not realize it yet, eSATA offers MUCH faster data transfer speeds than USB 2.0 does. The great thing about the eSATA/USB port is that you can use it as a regular USB port or for an eSATA device if and when you buy a new eSATA-compatible device.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 processor in our review unit provided ample processing power and never presented any problems when running applications or encoding video and audio files.
Performance with the Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 processor and NVIDIA 9600M-GT graphics card was excellent. Bottom line, this machine is extremely fast. You would typically need to purchase a high-performance gaming notebook to reach these levels of performance. This new HP was perfectly able to handle any software we tested, and even put up “reasonable” numbers with 3D games that usually don’t perform well on notebooks, such as Crysis.
Of course, with a notebook that tips the scales at almost 9 pounds … this beast better provide close to the same performance you expect from a desktop.
Let’s take a look at a few basic benchmarks so you can get an idea of how the HDX 18 stacks up.
wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, this processor benchmark program is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, it measures the amount of time to run a set amount of calculations.
wPrime comparison results (lower scores means better performance):
|Notebook / CPU||wPrime 32M time|
|HP HDX 18t (Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz)||27.416s|
|Acer Aspire 6920 (Core 2 Duo T5750 @ 2.0GHz)||44.457s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 (Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz)||34.628s|
|HP Pavilion dv5z (Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80 @ 2.1GHz)||39.745s|
|Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz)||43.569s|
|Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
|HP Pavilion dv6500z (Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz)||40.759s|
|Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz)||58.233s|
|Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)||38.343s|
|Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)||37.299s|
|HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz)||40.965s|
|Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz)||76.240s|
|Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)||37.705s|
|HP Pavilion dv6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz)||38.720s|
PCMark05 is a benchmark that measures the overall system performance, so it considers the processor, hard drive, memory and OS as part of the mix. The HDX 18 produced more than reasonable performance numbers.
PCMark05 measures overall notebook performance (higher scores are better):
|HP HDX 18t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9600M GT 512MB)||6,587 PCMarks|
|Acer Aspire 6920 (2.0GHz Intel T5750, Intel X3100)||4,179 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA 9300M GS 256MB)||5,173 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion dv5z (2.1GHz Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80, ATI Radeon HD 3200)||3,994 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100)||4,149 PCMarks|
|Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB)||5,412 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT)||4,616 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||4,153 PCMarks|
|Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB)||4,189 PCMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||4,234 PCMarks|
The 18″ glossy “HP Ultra Brightview Infinity” LCD is nice and bright with rich colors and deep contrast. The new 16:9 screen dimension gives you a full high-definition resolution (1920 x 1080) compared to the standard 1280 x 800 resolution on most 15″ notebooks. You get more horizontal and vertical resolution with this massive display. This is also nice for widescreen movies since it allows more of the film to fit on the screen with less of the black bars on the top and bottom.
Most of our editorial staff doesn’t care for the glossy “Infinity” display style compared to traditional glossy displays because it creates a separate layer of glossy reflection above (and in front of) the actual display. This isn’t a problem in low light environments … it actually helps create richer colors and gives the display an almost “wet” look. However, if you try to use a notebook with this type of screen under bright lights or outdoors under bright sunlight the reflections will make it very difficult (and possibly even painful for your eyes).
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the HDX 18 was quite impressive in that it has absolutely no flex over the main keyboard. The dedicated number pad does suffer from some flex directly above the optical drive, but that shouldn’t be a problem for most people unless you’re constantly using the number pad for data entry. There’s little to complain about here from a functional standpoint. That said, the bright silver finish does cause some pretty strong reflections outside in the sunlight. Just don’t look down while typing outdoors.
The palm rest and touchpad areas feature the same excellent “Imprint” finish found on the lid of the notebook that gives this notebook a smooth, futuristic feel. The touchpad surface is extremely responsive and the indicated scroll region works as it should. The touchpad buttons are nice and wide with nice deep feedback and quiet clicks. The only thing that makes the touchpad a little frustrating is the smooth surface that sometimes causes your finger to “stick” unless you have very dry hands.
HP also includes a new multimedia remote that fits inside the ExpressCard slot on the notebook. This makes it easy to use the HDX 18 as a television thanks to the built-in TV tuner and also works nicely when using the HDX 18 for presentations.
More to Come
As of this writing we’ve only had the HP HDX 18 in our office for a short while now. We wanted to make sure our readers had a chance to take a look at this notebook as an alternative to other 17-inch and 18-inch notebooks currently on the market.
Our full review of this notebook is coming soon. Stay tuned.