Review HP Pavilion HDX16 Notebook
Glitz and Glamour.
HP promises "chic design and high end entertainment" with the HDX16. In fact you're dazzled by all of the high gloss and chrome surfaces when opening the laptop. The reflective 16-inch display with full HD resolution, as well the touchpad, which could also have been a makeup mirror, contribute their parts equally. Equipped with a broad range of interfaces as well as solid hardware components (Core 2 Duo CPU, 9600M GT graphics) the laptop leaves little to be desired when it comes to multimedia.
HP currently offers its multimedia specialists in two size variants. On the one hand there's the 16-inch 16:9 laptop, and only recently the Pavilion HDX18, which is one class higher with the giant 18.4" WUXGA display, as well as full HD with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The Intel quad-core CPU should above all offer the extensive performance reserves, which with a total of four cores provides for numerous parallel applications, allowing speedy execution of pending tasks.
In order to make the HDX16's case eye-catching, HP has obviously pulled out all the stops. Generally, components are finished with shiny chrome paint, and everything else at least has a high gloss clear coating. The only exception is the underside of the laptop, which isn't seen in normal operation anyway. Whether the HDX16 is a real eye-catcher is out of the question, as long as you keep it clean and you always remove the clearly visible dust particles.
The form of the case resembles that of the recent Pavilion dv6 series. It's only through the display that both series pursue different concepts. Whilst the dv6 has a conventional display with reflective surfaces and a high gloss enclosure, the display of the HDX16 employs an "Edge-to-Edge" design, which is to be seen in the current Macbooks or the Studio XPS laptops from Dell. Optically speaking you should have nothing against this, as long as you can get along with the reflective display.
The surfaces are adorned in end-to-end lacquered patterns, which are integrated harmoniously into the overall look of the laptop and under no circumstances are these patterns disturbing or even intrusive.
The technical workmanship of the case makes an overall good impression, yet some details have nevertheless not been worked as cleanly as they should have been. For example on the right edge behind the optical drive we noticed an overlaying component joint in our test sample.
Also the stability of the chassis is basically ok. From selective exposure to pressure, whilst there are partly some small deformations, the deformations are on the whole negligible. Also the pressure resistance of the display lid is thoroughly good. When fiddling with the laptop we could notice one or two creaks, which, when the surfaces of the chassis are made exclusively out of plastic components, is indeed not surprising.
Following the example of the Macbooks, HP connects the base unit and the display with a large hinge, which takes up almost all of the back side of the laptop. This has an effect on the eventual positioning of the ports. The resistance of the folding mechanism is well regulated and allows an adjustment of the opening angle with just one hand. Admittedly a slight bobbing of the display can be noticed.
The HP Pavilion HDX16 secures its status as a multimedia laptop amongst others through its interfaces on offer. Bordered by chromed plastic you'll find on the right hand side a VGA port, a connection for a docking cable, LAN, HDMI, eSATA/USB, a further USB port, FireWire and an ExpressCard slot. HP places the obligatory cardreader and the audio jacks on the leading edge of the laptop.
The right side edge ultimately takes on two further USB ports, a connection for an antenna, a Kensington lock and the power supply, as well as an optical drive. A Blu-Ray drive from Hitachi was employed in the tested model.
The positioning of the possible connections is acceptable for left-handed people as well as right-handed people. Left-handed people indeed find more options on their side, yet these are ports which are eventually occupied for long periods of time, such as LAN or the video output, which you will all the while find in a rather rear area.
The QuickDock 2.0 compatible docking interface offers six further USB connections, jacks for microphones and headphones as well as a S/PDIF interface, VGA port and a network port. At a price of around 90.- Euro most of the ports are consolidated onto one jack, which drastically relieves the need to disconnect many separate devices from the laptop.
As standard, HP integrates communication features like the Intel WLAN module (WiFi Link 5100) and Realtek gigabit Ethernet. Bluetooth even belongs to the standard configuration as well as an infra-red interface, in order to control the Pavilion HDX16 with the appropriate remote.
Additionally you'll find an integrated webcam in the display border and a fingerprint reader, which is placed in the right rear area, where the wrist rests. On the outside the integrated DVB-T TV tuner is only recognisable through the mini-antenna interface, through which the laptop also becomes a mobile television. The basic manufacturer's guarantee is rather poor, which is valid for 12 months. With a surcharge of around 130.- Euro you can protect the device for up to 3 years using the "Pick-up & Return" service.
When it comes to input devices obviously the design was more important. For example, the keyboard has a silver coating, and it feels however very glossy and almost gluey. As for layout and the keys on offer in the HDX16, nothing is objectionable. In the enclosure you'll even find room for a separate number pad, which fortunately doesn't cut back the standard keyboard in its size. As a single mistake in the design of the keyboard there are the arrow keys, which are barely half the size of the numeric keys. Especially from intensive use, such as steering in a racing game, there is a very unpleasant hand posture. There is only the possibility of reverting to the optional cursor keys on the number pad.
The feel of the keys is characterised by a medium to somewhat longer stroke and a particularly strong pressure point. It is also remarkable that a slight but clearly possible bending of the keyboard exists, which when typing causes an elastic typing feel. However, we particularly liked the subtle typing sounds, even when the keys are attacked more vigorously.
The touchpad is covered in a chrome layer, just like the corresponding buttons. The resulting mirror effect looks very good, but doesn't contribute anything to practical use. As a result, unsightly fingerprints collect here very quickly and also the slipperiness of the keys can only be seen in a positive light by those with dust-dry fingertips.
Both of the corresponding buttons are indeed very pleasant to use, which are , however, above all responsible for a generous keystroke.
Like almost all of the models in the Pavilion range, HP provides the HDX16 with a variety of extra buttons, which decorate the chassis in the form of white, LED-backlit touch-sensitive zones above the keyboard. Apart from the learning curve when it comes to using the volume control as well as the customisation option for treble and bass, they are also very pleasant to use and respond well.
HP has also come up with something special for the display, or at least in its name. "Dual Channel LVDS FHD AG-Display Infinity BrightView”, is the name of the 16-inch glare display. Technically speaking behind the name hides a panel with double lamp illumination in full HD resolution. LVDS stands for "Low Voltage Differential Signalling" and describes an interface standard for LCD displays.
In our brightness test with the Mavo Monitor from Gossen the panel admittedly performed so-so. The maximum measured brightness in the central measuring square was at an average of 192 cd/m². Point of criticism number one for the display is indeed the strong brightness wastage at the borders inwards (at up to 141 cd/m²), which brings the illumination of the display to a weak 74%. Thanks to the preset rather dark HP background images, this is at first hardly noticeable. With bright backgrounds encompassing white, the brightness devolution is indeed recognisable by eye.
Thanks to the low black values of just 0.42 cd/m², the HP Pavilion HDX16 can indeed expect a good maximum contrast ratio. At 457:1 the Panel should not dread comparison to other multimedia laptops.
The display in "edge-to-edge" design is aesthetically pleasing, and provides a "crisp" picture when used indoors in well regulated light conditions. The display doesn't get on well with light sources behind the user at all. Strong reflections are the consequences and working with the device is troublesome for the eyes. As a result this is also true for the HDX16 when used outdoors. Too strong reflections and the so-so brightness of the panel make reasonable outdoor use of the laptop barely possible.
Also the possible viewing angles are determined by the reflective display. Both horizontal and vertical fields of vision end up with a departure from ideal perpendicular viewing angles which briskly causes disturbing reflections, even before visible changes to the picture appear.
A multimedia pro with the vocal name HDX of course also calls for solid hardware equipment. With the Intel P8700 CPU and the Nvidia Geforce 9600M GT, HP has indeed not put especially exciting components into use, but a rational basis for a multimedia laptop is indeed offered all the while.
When it comes to the employed CPU, the 45 nanometre technology is used for the Penryn range chip. As a representative of the P-series the processor makes do with a TDP of merely 25 Watt, compared to the Txxxx models running at 35 Watt. The further benchmark data like the clock speeds of 2.53 GHz, 1066 MHz front-side bus and 3MB L2 cache certify the CPU's good performance reserves. At a price of 241.- US Dollars the chip is comparatively low priced, and only marginally more expensive than the slower representative of the Pxxxx series from Intel.
Currently the Nvidia Geforce 9600M GT graphics card is almost considered a discontinued model, but the GT 120M and GT 130M , the successive graphics cards for middle class multimedia laptops from Nvidia, are still in the starting blocks.
In any case, the 9600M GT chip still counts as a representative of the upper middle class of laptop graphics cards. Admittedly HP has saved on one point, or rather packed a hidden stumbling block into the device. It's about the video memory configuration of the employed graphics card, which has 512MB of memory as standard, but has only the DDR2 memory type available. Laptops with the quicker GDDR3 graphics memory modules can overtake the HDX16 when it comes to performance, which is shown in the 3D Mark 2006 comparison.
The HDX16 can position itself only on the lower margin of performance-oriented middle class laptops with comparable hardware equipment.
It doesn't look much different in the PC Mark 2005 benchmark comparison. The HP HDX16 is also to be found on the lower margin.
When it comes to the hard drive, a voluminous 500GB hard disk from Western Digital (WDC WD500BEVT), HP doesn't put any obvious weak points into the device. The HDTune benchmark test confirms the storage device's acceptable transfer rates and at 17.0 milliseconds a brisk access time is also confirmed.
The RAM configuration is similarly good with a total of 4096MB of memory. The two modules, which are of the DDR2 PC2-6400 variety, are entirely at your disposal thanks to the 64-Bit Windows Vista Home Premium operating system.
|3DMark 05 Standard||8310 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||4085 points|
|3DMark Vantage P Result no PhysX||1227 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||5357 points|
|PCMark Vantage Result||3610 points|
Thanks to the 9600M GT graphics card, albeit in a somewhat "trimmed-down" version, and the strong P8700 CPU, the HDX16 is thoroughly equipped for computer games, if only for medium to low detail settings. The following shows the results of the practical tests of some recent games.
The scary shooter ran problem-free when playing the demo version at the lowest possible settings with an average of 82.12 FPS. Increasing the graphics settings to 1024x768 pixels and medium details saw performance fall to 38.48 FPS, where the game can still just be considered playable, admittedly leaving few reserves for complex graphics effects, and in this case it can lead to visible juddering. High graphic details are not advisable (1280x1024), where the average frame rate in the test fell to just 19.35 FPS and juddered visibly.
Call of Duty 4
It was a similar scenario performance-wise for the classic shooter, Call of Duty 4. Whilst at minimum graphics settings a strong average of 123.3 FPS was reached, the performance already falls at medium details (1024x768, everything on, no AA) to only 40.2 FPS. Setting anti-aliasing to 2x brings the frame rate down to 18.2 FPS and also brings the game under the lowest necessary level for fluid gameplay.
The recent racing game Racedriver: GRID is clearly demanding on the hardware. Here the HP HDX16 already required minimum graphics settings (800x600, everything out/min), in order to reach a tolerably usable performance of 42.7 FPS. Already at medium details the frame rate falls to 32.8 FPS and it leads to noticeable juddering in gameplay. The option for high details practically fell flat on its face.
WoW – World of Warcraft
Even if the online-classic, WoW, already has several years under its belt, it still has millions of users. The HDX16 managed WoW in a test run through the forests of Northshire Valley at medium graphic detail (1024x768, everything on/medium) with an average of 82.56 FPS. Therein it should also offer extensive reserves for mass slaughter. High details (1280x1024) were only possible with a poor 19.86 FPS.
The fan of the HDX16 was basically constantly present in the test. Nevertheless the fan didn't come across as unpleasant because of its noise characteristics and loudness. When idle our measurement device recorded a noise level of 34.6 dB(A). If you put the laptop under load, the fan briskly reaches a somewhat higher level of 39.5 dB(A). After some time of constant load of the hardware components, the fan can even reach up to 44.8 dB(A), which in normal use, and even in computer games, is indeed rarely to be seen.
34.6 / 34.6 / 34.6 dB(A)
||37 / dB(A)|
||39.5 / 44.8 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
Considering the performance at your disposal, the measured maximum surface temperatures under load turned out to be rather alarming. Already the upper side of the base unit warms up to 44.2°C comparatively keenly. Admittedly it gets really hot on the underside of the laptop, where we noticed maximum temperatures of up to 56.7 °C in the stress test.
Admittedly the inbuilt sound system from Altec Lansing brings first class multimedia performance. The combination of the speakers above the keyboard and the subwoofer on the underside of the laptop provides full and absolute sound that is worth listening to, and for this reason it is thoroughly suited to music playback. In this case the maximum volume could still be a tad higher.
The additional buttons with the add on functions of bass and treble settings fared well, with which you can easily and precisely adjust the playing sounds, and you can optimally customise the currently played style of music. Also for video and Blu-Ray playback, this laptop definitely has its advantages.
The HP Pavilion has a 6-cell Lithium ion battery at its disposal with a capacity of 55 Wh. In the maximum battery life test (BatteryEater Readers) the HDX16 hangs on for barely 152 minutes (min. display brightness, WLAN off, energy saving profile). Under load (BE-Classic test) the laptop barely reached 63 minutes, which the laptop hangs on for without being near to a power socket (max. display brightness, WLAN on, high performance profile).
The further measured results in WLAN operation (102 minutes) and in DVD playback (76 minutes) also turned out rather disappointingly. Mobile use of the system is therefore possible but only strongly restricted.
HP has openly recognised this problem and therefore offers an optional, larger 12-cell battery, which indeed adds around 120.- Euro to the price. It's worth adding that the battery projects out of the underside of the laptop and consequently brings the device into a slanted position. For planned mobile use of the laptop, this expansion is absolutely recommended.
|Off / Standby||0 / 0.7 Watt|
|Idle|| 27.3 / 34.4 / 36.7 Watt|
66.5 / 89.7 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max:
|Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)||2h 32min|
|WiFi Surfing||1h 42min|
|Load (maximum brightness)||1h 03min|
"Chic design and high end entertainment" – HP hasn't promised too much with this advertising slogan. Thanks to the Blu-Ray drive, full HD display, DVB-T TV tuner and a brilliant sound system, the HP HDX16 becomes a mobile multimedia workshop. Admittedly it is somewhat problematic when it comes to the mobility of the basic configuration. Barely 2 hours of battery life isn't convincing in this respect. Luckily the laptop is also available with a larger battery.
The design is covered by a particularly generous use of chrome surfaces, which also look quite nifty, but is indeed very inclined to visible dirt. In our opinion, in final analysis the gloss lacquered keys and the touchpad with a reflective coating have overreached themselves. The display also has a reflective coating, and indeed this covers the entire width. Unfortunately the brightness of the panel as well as the illumination don't fare very strongly, whereby the range of use of the HDX16 is rather limited to indoors.
There is also criticism from us when it comes to the performance capabilities of the hardware. The benchmark data of the device indeed sounds promising, yet the individual benchmarks stay under our expectations.
Furthermore, for our taste the temperatures of the case were too high. With temperatures of up to 57 °C on the underside of the case, the HDX16 belongs to the "hothead" of its class. Luckily the system noise of the device is to some degree limited.
The rather meagre overall score of 80% is a result of a multitude of only lukewarm measurements from the display, emissions and battery life.
At a price of around 1300.- Euro indeed you can currently get laptops which are clearly stronger when it comes to performance, but the HDX16 can thoroughly justify the price due to the complete multimedia package on offer.