Hewlett-Packard Pavillion Media Center M8075a

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Hewlett-Packard Pavillion Media Center M8075a
  • Hewlett-Packard Pavillion Media Center M8075a
  • Hewlett-Packard Pavillion Media Center M8075a
  • Hewlett-Packard Pavillion Media Center M8075a

Pros

  • Easy access video capture on the front panel, Personal Media Drive Bay for external storage newcomers, 15-in-1 media card reader

Cons

  • Performance results

Bottom Line

For its price the HP Pavilion m8075a is a neat little unit with some good basic features for the budding media happy user. It's clearly not a high end machine for power users, but for those looking to get a little extra media functionality out of their next PC purchase the HP Pavilion Media Center m8075a PC is a reasonable selection.

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The media centre market remains stretched between two extremes. On one end you have the set-top-box style media hubs. These are intended to blend in with your Foxtel box and work in conjunction with high definition TVs and surround sound home theatre systems. On the other end you have products like the HP Pavilion Media Center m8075a PC; the mid-tower style, media-enabled PC with connectivity geared at budding media junkies with a trigger happy camera finger, a towering CD collection and a list of favourite TV shows as long as the Great Wall of China.

There are few features that set this PC apart as more than just a regular home computer. For the happy-go-lucky party snapper who needs a jukebox and a home for all their TV recordings it's a reasonable choice but it lacks many highly desirable features that we've come to expect from a media centre PC. The best media centres we've reviewed offer a wide range of with ports such as HDMI, component, composite and multi-channel (see Acer Aspire iDea 510). However, you'll pay a premium for such extensive connectivity and not everyone needs it.

The Pavilion m8075a PC offers a digital DVBT TV tuner, a 15-in-1 media card reader (SD, MMC, MS, xD and CF), a LightScribe DVD re-writer and compatibility with HP's Personal Media Drive. You can also hook up your camcorder and MP3 player, as well as outputting to a TV via S-Video.

It also has AV inputs for analogue video capture. Although most devices, such as camcorders, can connect via a FireWire or USB port, there are some instances where analogue video capture inputs can come in handy. One such situation might be to capture video from a VHS tape recorder, but you should be aware that many commercial VHS tapes and almost all DVDs have copy protection systems in place to prevent this.

With this level of connectivity, at the sub-$1500 price point, the Pavilion m8075a PC is an ideal choice as a hybrid purchase. When you need a PC just hook it up to a monitor, get online and it's perfect for checking emails, writing up homework assignments or chatting to friends. When you need a media centre you can watch or record live TV, play your music through some PC speakers or download a movie.

Windows Vista Home Premium is installed which comes with the Windows Media Center software, a quick and easy way to watch TV, browse photos, listen to music or watch a DVD. The system also includes muvee autoProducer 5.0 in case you want to whip up a home movie or two.

With this price tag we were never expecting a high-rolling power-PC. Inside the plain black chassis you'll find a Pentium D 3.2GHz CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce 7500 LE graphics card. This is a fairly low to mid range selection of components that are more than capable of doing what is required without blowing the budget.

We ran WorldBench 6, which gauges the system's ability to run popular applications such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop as well as media encoding and HD media burning tasks. In this test it scored 66 which is a fairly mediocre score for a desktop PC, but not slow by any means. We also encoded audio by taking 53 minutes worth of WAV files and converting them to 192Kbps MP3 files. This test gives you an indication of how long it might take to encode a CD to the computers hard drive. Again the test result wasn't at the high end of the spectrum, taking 140 seconds to complete. It's not a lifetime of waiting, even with a large music library. However, it is a further indication of the processing power and, as with WorldBench 6, is not outstanding for a desktop PC.

The aforementioned LightScribe DVD burner and HP Media Drive Bay are handy storage features, either as a backup or alternatives to the installed 320GB (7200rpm) hard drive. LightScribe burners have an added feature that allows you to burn patterns and labels into LightScribe discs. The HP Media Drive Bay is basically an external storage drive slot for HPs external hard drives or Media Drives. The drive slots into the bay on the front of the case and can be easily plugged into another HP PC with a Media Drive Bay or any other PC via USB. It can be a simple way of transferring data from one PC to another or quickly adding some extra storage to your system when things start to overflow.

Also found on the front panel are the media card reader, composite AV ports and an S-Video port for video input. We set this up to capture video from an external source using the supplied Roxio Creator Basic software, which managed to capture our test video well enough.

Also available is a FireWire port, two USB 2.0 ports and a set of connectors for headphones and a microphone. At the back there are digital and analogue outputs for 7.1 surround sound speakers, plus a digital audio input. The rear panel houses a further four USB 2.0 ports, an additional FireWire port as well as VGA, DVI and S-Video outputs and a TV tuner.

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