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.