The HP HDX16 offers desktop replacement performance and features in an all-purpose laptop - and looks pretty slick in the process.

Sure, the HP HDX16's screen may be a little smaller than its predecessor the HP HDX18, and it comes with a smaller hard drive. But if anything, the HP HDX16 hits a sweet spot that its bigger brother can't match: a lower price.

The HP HDX16 has brawn to match its beauty. In our WorldBench 6 tests, HP's notebook scored a solid 100. It's not quite the fastest we've seen, but it's more than powerful enough to play some games as well as video.

A 2.8GHz Core2 Duo CPU (T9600), 4GB of RAM, and nVidia's 512MB GeForce 9600M GT GPU fuel our review HP HDX16. Now, we can spit out framerates of games like Doom 3 (which achieved a respectable 90 frames per second at 1280-by-1024 resolution), but what matters is that the HDX16 is capable of playing this season's big guns without much of a hitch.

We tooled around Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead on the screen's native 1920-by-1080 resolution. Both looked good and ran fairly smoothly on the HP HDX16.

However, it didn't last quite as long as we would have liked. The HP HDX16's battery ran only 2 hours, 12 minutes in tests. That's pretty weak and not what one hopes for out of an all-purpose machine. So, if you're planning for a road trip, buy a beefier battery or just make sure that you keep the power brick close by.

A little hefty for an all-purpose, the HP HDX16 weighs 3.35kg with the power brick and measures 332/434x379x335mm. It does have a 16.4in screen - which sits it right at the border between an all-purpose notebook and a desktop replacement portable.

The glossy finish on the HP HDX16's panel ensures that you'll never be alone - you'll always see your reflection. It isn't the highly polished, highly annoying sheen that you find on many glossy panels, but it's still hard to ignore.

The important part is that everything from Blu-ray movies to the newest games come across looking great. Yep, the HP HDX16 is an all-purpose machine that manages to squeeze a BD-ROM drive into its price.

NEXT PAGE: a multimedia machine

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The HP HDX16 offers desktop replacement performance and features in an all-purpose laptop - and looks pretty slick in the process.

Now the HP HDX16 is how a multimedia machine is supposed to look. Yes, there's an obnoxious HP logo on the back of the lid that lights up when on (thanks for showing the rest of the world that little trick, Apple), but the rest of the machine is laid out just as a meaty desktop machine should be.

The HP HDX16 we received in the lab sprouts eSATA and HDMI ports, three USB 2.0 ports, a 4-pin FireWire port, a multiformat flash card reader, and a PC Express card slot. An optional feature that also shows up in our review unit: HD and coax cable tuners for watching - and recording - TV shows on the system's 320GB hard drive. Combine all that with the flashy finish and neat exterior, and you've got yourself an incredibly handsome road-ready solution.

The keyboard has a cool, metallic feel thanks to the coating. We wouldn't go and say that the HP HDX16's keyboard beats out the ThinkPad line for its sensitivity, texture, and key response, but we're going to at least give it a nod and put it up on our list. We also happen to love all the extra-tweaking multimedia buttons that line the top of the keyboard.

The bright LED buttons might seem a little much, but they provide quick access to the HP HDX16's key multimedia features - and even provide the ability to tweak treble and bass without having to dig deep into software settings (though you can still do that here; more on that shortly).

The HP HDX16's mirrorlike touchpad is a little distracting, but in a good way, thanks to the art that carries over from the case across the mousing surface. It also feels smooth to the touch. And the mouse buttons? We're getting spoiled here. Long, sturdy metallic buttons stand ready for duty.

We're happy with the sound setup on the HP HDX16. We usually don't recommend on-board audio, but this time, the Altec-Lansing audio solution is anything but blah. The mids and highs seem a little off, but way better than how most "multimedia" notebooks handle those tones. Meanwhile, the down-firing subwoofer lurking underneath the notebook rounds out the sound.

Audiophiles will approve of the HP HDX16's Dolby sound equaliser software. It's not quite enough to topple the big audio dynamite often found in Toshiba's Qosmio line, but it's more than ample for rocking a room and without resort to headphones or external speakers. And to further tweak out the sound, IDT HD Sound software gives you quick and easy access to a 10-band equaliser - you can customise the sound spacialising (pushing sounds to different parts of your headphones to feel surrounded; it works to a decent effect).

Speaking of software, we need to give a quick nod to the HP HDX16's applications. They are slickly produced and suited perfectly for the hardware. You can tell that HP really thought about a nice multimedia interface with its MediaSmart software's sweet GUI interface and how the notebook's shortcut keys tie together.

However, MediaSmart is technically bloatware - approximately 350MB that perform the same exact job as what Windows' Media Center software already does. Okay, it's a minor peeve considering that the HP HDX16's 5400rpm, 320GB hard drive is relatively clean from most other useless apps.

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PCWorld.com

HP HDX16: Specs

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8400, 2.26Ghz, 800MHz, 3MB Cache
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 320GB hard drive
  • 16.4in HD Widescreen Display
  • Blu-ray combo drive
  • 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600
  • Dolby Surround sound
  • 56k modem
  • 4x USB, 1x FireWire, 1x Infrared
  • TV Tuner, HDMI, Centrino 2
  • Lithium Ion battery
  • 802.11a/g/n
  • 332/434x379x335mm
  • 3.35kg
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8400, 2.26Ghz, 800MHz, 3MB Cache
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 320GB hard drive
  • 16.4in HD Widescreen Display
  • Blu-ray combo drive
  • 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600
  • Dolby Surround sound
  • 56k modem
  • 4x USB, 1x FireWire, 1x Infrared
  • TV Tuner, HDMI, Centrino 2
  • Lithium Ion battery
  • 802.11a/g/n
  • 332/434x379x335mm
  • 3.35kg

OUR VERDICT

HP's HDX16 goes a long way toward bringing a good multimedia experience with you on the road, but it lacks the juice to last for the long haul (and, as a larger laptop, could be a bit much to lug around). On the other hand, it packs just enough of a performance punch to let you watch all the movies and play all the games you want while going mobile. But the kind of power this machine packs doesn't exactly come cheap.

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