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HP Pavilion HDX 9203KW

Five Multimedia Notebooks, Tested
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A different story from the rear: a massive aluminum tilt-forward dual-screen hinge permits a wider range of screen adjustment than most notebooks allow.

The HP Pavilion HDX 9203KW is another incarnation of an oversize multimedia notebook that is affectionately known as "the Dragon," thanks to the subtle, embossed pattern that adorns the display lid and the unit’s keyboard deck. We first reviewed this notebook as part of a roundup in October 2007, where we gave it two thumbs up. It’s just as big and heavy (15.38 pounds by itself, 17.94 pounds with AC adapter and power cords), as ever, but it offers the biggest (20.1") display and one of the most attractive designs of any of the multimedia notebooks reviewed here. In fact, we show front and rear views of this unit with the upper deck extended to show off its adjustable rear hinge that lets users tilt the screen more effectively than clamshell-hinged lids do.

What’s inside this notebook, which we call a "beauteous behemoth?" All kinds of interesting goodies, including an Intel Core Duo T9500 (2.6 GHz), 4 GB of DDR2-667 RAM, two 250 GB hard disks (5400 RPM SATA), GeForce 8800M GTS graphics and a 1080p capable display plus a Blu-ray player/DVD burner. It also has an Intel 4965 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi interface and a Marvell Yukon-based GbE wired network port. Throw in an integrated Media Center-compatible remote control (stores in the ExpressCard slot when not in use), an internal TV tuner/CATV connection, stereo speakers with a separate subwoofer and an HDMI connection, and you’ve got a good idea of what comes with the HP HDX notebook PC.

In trying to match the configuration that HP sent us for review in May 2008, the closest we could come was a configuration that included an Intel T9600 (2.8 GHz) processor and a GeForce 9600M GT graphics adapter. This configuration costs $2,518 at the HP online store, including a temporary $200 rebate that was available at the time we wrote this article. Given what you get for the money (and that the price of this unit has dropped by more than $1,000 as compared to last year’s model), it’s a good price and a good value for the money.

As its size might indicate, the HDX has lots of room for ports and connectors, which extend all the way around the machine.

On the front edge, dual headphone out and microphone-in mini-jacks are visible at the center; you can’t see the IR receiver that’s also situated here.Left side, from left to right: two USB 2.0 ports, RJ-45 GbE, expansion/dock port, VGA, HDMI, eSATA and Firewire ports. After that, a 5-in-1 memory card reader (SD, MS, MS Pro, MMC, and xD cards) and an ExpressCard slot.

Rear view, from left to right: fan/vent port, Blaster IR emitter, S-video, and NTSC/ATSC video in to left of hinge; side, rear, center/subwoofer and front (7.1) audio ports to the right of the hinge.Right side, from left to right: Two more USB 2.0 ports, optical disk drawer and Kensington lock aperture.

As with other big notebooks, the HDX is a desktop replacement and multimedia machine. It’s by no means portable, nor is it really a laptop – it’s more of a coffee table or tabletop design, in fact. That helps to explain why battery life for the HDX remains minimal. Its large size and hefty weight mean you won’t want to work on it away from a wall socket, anyway. Until the Eurocom came around, this unit ruled the multimedia notebook roost in performance, but now it moves into second place, as you’ll see in our test results later in this story.

Nevertheless, the HP HDX remains the most attractive of the multimedia notebooks (in our eyes, at least) and offers tremendous bang for the buck (as long as you’re set on a notebook as opposed to desktop or HTPC formats).

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  • 1 Hide
    urimiel , November 15, 2008 7:36 AM
    I am really sorry to be the one that points this out. I am Tomshardware reader for quite many years now. This is the first time I have seen an article or any kind of presentation like that. You guys are posting bar graphs and change the legend of each color bar for every different graph... this does not make sense.
  • 0 Hide
    fudgeboy , November 15, 2008 9:59 AM
    Quote:
    You guys are posting bar graphs and change the legend of each color bar for every different graph
    wow, and thats like the basic fundamentals of presentation. the writers on this site really need to go back to high school. they should have a standard layout over the whole thing (like you would if you were doing an experiment)
  • 0 Hide
    Master Exon , November 15, 2008 11:02 AM
    Basically purple is always at the top, regardless of who purple represents. Kinda dumb, but they really should have had the manufacturer's name on the bar itself.

    Hey, when will TH compare $300-$450 netbooks? You already did the $2000 ones.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , November 15, 2008 5:34 PM
    urimielI am really sorry to be the one that points this out. I am Tomshardware reader for quite many years now. This is the first time I have seen an article or any kind of presentation like that. You guys are posting bar graphs and change the legend of each color bar for every different graph... this does not make sense.


    Heya guys--sorry about that. I should have caught this in editing. The charts are now correct with each notebook appearing in the same place with the same corresponding legend data.
  • 1 Hide
    FrozenGpu , November 16, 2008 3:52 PM
    Master ExonBasically purple is always at the top, regardless of who purple represents. Kinda dumb, but they really should have had the manufacturer's name on the bar itself.Hey, when will TH compare $300-$450 netbooks? You already did the $2000 ones.


    Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top?
  • 0 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , November 17, 2008 7:33 AM
    To me the $300-450 laptops aren't worth an in depth review, just a quicky 2 pager (is it capable as a netbook yes/no) that's a disposable laptop you buy a kids or as a couch laptop or travel one.

    I want to know what my $2K+ buys me, the $300 laptop is the price of one of the options on these things. That's the bigger risk. What's anyone really expecting in a $300-400 laptop, certainly not heaving gsaming, video editing or programming.

    It may seem elitist, but with the limited amount of info out there on laptops period, netbooks shouldn't consume much of the reviews time, nor space, I'd rather see more $1,000 and $2,000 and then $3,000+ reviews those 3 categories have more variability and value than the cheapest ones. Who can't figure out if a $400 laptop is worth it from a visit to the best buy or whatever?

    Personally I want to see an IBM W700 review, tell me if it's worth the $3,000+ (is the built in Wacom pad good enough, the keyboard stiff enough, is it worth it to get turbo memory now that it's faster & bigger or just go SSD and be done with it, etc), not something to tell me which of the cheap laptops is slower than my previous laptops that you could buy at a discount store for as much and which might be just a tiny bit faster but still just suited for M$ office and websurfing and light photoshoping.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 17, 2008 2:32 PM
    Is the image for this on the Toms Hardware site supposed to say "Multiedia" on the laptop screen or is that a typo?
  • 0 Hide
    johntmosher , November 17, 2008 10:19 PM
    I have been wanting to find a 20 inch laptop so I was excited to see the HDX review.....But still can't find it for sale online at HP.COM
    Got a sales link?
  • 0 Hide
    maric423 , November 18, 2008 4:41 PM
    johntmosherI have been wanting to find a 20 inch laptop so I was excited to see the HDX review.....But still can't find it for sale online at HP.COMGot a sales link?


    According to the HP Sales guys, its out of production (I got interested and looked for it too). The replacement machine is supposedly the HP HDX 18t, which is only an 18.4", and doesn't have the same hinge structure. Not really a comparable machine. You can still find a few HP Pavilion HDX 20" from third parties if you search around, but I wasn't thrilled about the idea of buying a system they'd already stopped making.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 21, 2008 8:00 AM
    Can you please test one more little thing? Linux compatibility.

    Its easy, just toss in an ubuntu live CD, and tell us if things like sound, webcam, wifi etc work out of the box. If they don't, don't bother much trying to get it to work. But Acer for instance is notorious for having buggy ACPI implementation in the bios that detects the OS and only work with Vista. With Linux (possibly even XP) standby will be highly unreliable. Dell and IBM do a much better job at it, and that deserves to be known.

    Doing such tests should be very straightforward and accomplish two things:
    1) inform us linux users (we buy notebooks too you know :)  )
    2) put some pressure on oem's to test their BIOS and hardware with linux

    Id appreciate it. No one does this, please be the first :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 15, 2008 1:21 PM
    Bought the 8920G recently, the ATI version, first power on - entered BIOS and set it to boot from CD, started F10 Live.

    Did not do too extensive tests, but webcam, wifi, bluetooth, wired ethernet worked out of the box. Sound did not work, the card seems to be recognized but I never got a sound out of it.

    BEWARE: I started Vista only once till the Acer Arcade initial Setup screen, I did not proceed any further (I do not accept the M$ EULA), however after that I was not able to access the BIOS anymore! The "Press F2 to enter setup" message disappeared. Reflashing did not help, only made things worse because I lost the CMOS setting and could not boot from CD anymore (and at that time the hard drive was already formatted to get rid of Vista).