HP’s HDX laptops are a step up from the Pavilion models we’ve seen recently.
The HDX16 has a stylish chrome finish, but uses a dark grey plastic that’s slightly more fingerprint-resistant. The major upgrade is in the display, which fits a full-HD resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels into a 16in screen.
We watched a Blu-ray copy of Casino Royale, and were impressed by the clarity of the picture. With so many pixels in such a small area, there was no grain at all. To compensate for a lack of vibrancy in the colour, we turned up Digital Vibrance in the Nvidia control panel, which gave colours a bit more punch. However, contrast wasn’t as good as you’d get on a standalone TV, and as with all laptops there isn’t a proper range of image controls such as you’d find on a standalone monitor or HD TV.
In our Call of Duty 4 gaming test, the screen’s high resolution proved less useful. At the display’s native resolution, the Nvidia 9600M GT chipset struggled. It managed only 17.6fps, and that was with anti-aliasing disabled – although thanks to the high resolution you don’t really need it. It will run the game at a playable 31.9fps, but only at a resolution of 1,024×768, again with anti-aliasing turned off. However, games that don’t require a high frame rate to play, such as Civilization IV: Colonization (What’s New, Shopper 251), can make great use of that big resolution.
Although it has only a slightly larger screen than the Pavilion dv5-1000ea (Labs, Shopper 254), the HDX16’s has a full-width keyboard and a numeric keypad. The main keys are large and comfortable to use, and there’s plenty of travel and feedback, which makes touch-typing a pleasure. The touch pad uses the same shiny surface found on the Pavilion models, which can get sticky. It’s large enough, though, and the big buttons have a light action and plenty of travel.
Performance was fairly impressive, although we’ve seen cheaper laptops with similar scores in PCMark Vantage. Battery life is fairly poor, with under two hours in our light-usage test. It’s not surprising, though, as entertainment laptops are rarely suited to mobile use. This one weighs a hefty 3.4kg, too.
There’s no doubt the HDX16 packs a lot into a relatively small package. As well as Blu-ray playback and games, there’s a built-in digital TV tuner, making this an all-round entertainment laptop. Those looking for a cheaper alternative should consider Asus’ X71SL, which includes Blu-ray and a 17in screen for £220 less. The HDX16 may not be ideal for gaming, but its great display makes a good buy nonetheless.