Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion dv9800 (dv9821tx)

For work or play, this notebook is great

Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion dv9800 (dv9821tx)
  • Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion dv9800 (dv9821tx)
  • Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion dv9800 (dv9821tx)
  • Hewlett-Packard Australia Pavilion dv9800 (dv9821tx)
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Blu-ray drive, HDMI, strong processor performance

Cons

  • Screen not full high definition, weak graphics card

Bottom Line

For users wanting a home entertainment centre or a powerful desktop replacement to work with, the dv9800 is a very strong contender.

Would you buy this?

The HP Pavilion dv9800 is a feature-packed unit that is hard to fault. Fitted with the latest networking options and a Blu-ray player with HDMI-output, it's a versatile option both for home entertainment and business productivity.

Those familiar with the Pavilion series of notebooks will quickly recognise the dv9800's design. The HP Pavilion dv6000 (dv6614TX) and Pavilion tx2011AU Entertainment Notebook PC both have very similar cover art.

On the unit's right-hand side a Blu-ray drive provides users with the latest disc format compatibility: it will burn to CDs and DVDs, and it will play Blu-ray movies.

While the optical drive is able to play 1080p Blu-ray movies, the 17in screen has a native resolution of 1440x900. This results in down-scaling and doesn't allow for the full potential of high-definition films to be appreciated on the device itself. The screen also suffers from reflectivity in well-lit environments and has a limited viewing angle from above.

Fortunately the notebook comes with an HDMI port, which allows easy connectivity to televisions capable of displaying a 1080p signal. D-Sub and S-Video ports, which are located on the left-hand side, allow a monitor or older TV to be connected. These ports, coupled with good performance in our benchmarks, make the dv9800 stand out as a potential home entertainment centre.

In our WorldBench 6 benchmark, the dv9800 returned an excellent result of 95. Running multiple applications simultaneously, as well as intensive tasks like video encoding, is easy. Our iTunes test, where we convert 53min worth of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s, also highlighted the processor's speed by performing the task in 1min 11sec.

The notebook gets its speed from a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor and it features 3GB of DDR2 RAM. A 320GB hard drive is installed, and it spins at 5400rpm. It provides plenty of space for users to play with. Meanwhile, those wanting a little more graphical grunt will appreciate the NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS, which will be fine for games that aren't too graphics intensive, but will struggle with newer, and even some older titles.

This was reinforced in 3DMark06, where it only achieved a score of 1626. This means modern games like Crysis won't run at all, and even older DirectX 9-based games like F.E.A.R. will barely operate.

The notebook is comfortable to use: users will enjoy the responsive, full-sized keyboard and number pad. A fingerprint reader sits below the keyboard on the right palm rest; it's a convenient security option for those who want to do away with their login password.

The drawback of the full-sized keyboard and 17in screen is the lack of portability. Those hoping to use this device on the go probably will be thwarted by its 3.5kg weight. With its power adapter included, the total package comes to 4kg. It's definitely a stay-at-home notebook.

A set of Altec Lansing speakers offer excellent clarity, but suffer from a lack of bass. There is a line out option for connecting the notebook to a receiver, and two headphone ports are available for private listening. Other sound options include a microphone port and a built-in array microphone that surrounds the webcam above the screen.

Our DVD rundown benchmark, which simulates a worst-case scenario for battery life, returned a time of 1hr 36min. This isn't too bad for such a big notebook; however due to its size it will probably rarely be used far from a power point.

For network connectivity, the dv9800 has all the latest options: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/g/n and a 56Kbps modem. Also included is a FireWire port, a five-in-one card reader (SD, MS, MSPro, MMC, xD) and an ExpressCard/54 slot, which provides a good avenue for expansion.

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