HP’s HDX 18 Entertainment PC is a notebook, but not in the portability sense of the word. With an 18.4-inch diagonal screen and a carry weight of 10 pounds, 9 ounces, you might occasionally move this monster from room to room, but you won’t take it everywhere you go—certainly not without the aid of a lifting belt.
Of course, the large size does have its merits. The aforementioned screen, for instance, sports a 1920x1080p resolution for ample desktop space and a true high-def movie experience, made all the more vivid by the screen’s glossy surface.
The HDX 18 also offers a full-size keyboard and numeric pad that make typing easy and comfortable. The accommodations extend to a generous helping of ports, including—but not limited to—HDMI, dual headphone jacks, three USB ports, and a very cool hybrid USB/eSATA port for supreme flexibility.
The HDX 18 bests smaller, more portable notebooks in performance too—at least in most benchmarks. Our model’s 2.8GHz T9600 Core 2 Duo helped the machine beat the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro and Dell XPS M1530 from our August notebook roundup in the ProShow, MainConcept, Premiere, and Photoshop tests by significant margins. For example, the HDX 18 was more than 10 percent faster than the duo in MainConcept, more than 13 percent faster in ProShow, and more than 30 percent faster in Photoshop. For even greater processing power, HP offers the quad-core Q9300 as an option.
The HDX 18’s midrange GeForce 9600M GT graphics make for less-impressive benchmark numbers in games. Yes, the HDX 18 decimated our zero-point rig, but so does every other modern notebook. In FEAR, the HDX 18 was more than 20 percent slower than both the Apple and Dell machines, which both use 8600M GT parts. The rigs were a little more evenly matched in Quake 4, where the HDX 18 had a better frame rate than the MB Pro but was 5 percent slower than the XPS. We won’t even bother comparing the HDX 18’s gaming numbers with those of the Gateway P-7811 FX notebook we reviewed in October. That would be too humiliating.
So, clearly, the HDX 18 isn’t going to be a gamer’s best friend. It’s more of an all-purpose rig with an emphasis on media. To that end, the rig holds a BD ROM/DVD burner, so you can make the most of the 1080p screen and Altec Lansing speakers and a subwoofer for relatively rich audio even at high volumes. But don’t try to watch a movie on battery power. We got just 1 hour and 48 minutes into a standard-def DVD before the HDX 18’s 6-cell battery petered out.
Another big part of the HDX 18’s feature set is aesthetics. Touches like the stylish but subtle line pattern inlaid in the rig’s chassis, the chrome siding and touchpad, the seamless bezel around the screen, and the illuminated touch-sensitive media controls that appear above the keyboard when the notebook is powered on all make for a handsome package.
But as nice as the HDX 18 is, we can’t award it our highest honors. As a notebook, this rig is too cumbersome and expensive for our tastes, and as a desktop replacement, its weak gaming scores give us pause.
HP HDX 18 Entertainment PC
Strong CPU performance, appealing features, attractive looks.
Poor gaming performance, too big and heavy for portability, pricey.
Intel 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo T9600
4GB DDR2 SDRAM
Two 320GB Fujitsu (5,400 rpm)
Optiarc BD ROM/Super Multi DVD burner
GeForce 9600M GT
71 sec/39 sec
9 lbs, 0.6 oz/10 lbs, 9.4 oz
HP HDX 18 Entertainment PC
Premiere Pro CS3
1, 611 sec
36 fps (+157.1%)
97.5 fps (+235.1%)
Our zero point notebook uses a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo E6700, 2GB of DDR2/667 RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a GeForce Go 8600M and Windows Vista Home Premium.