First look: HP’s Pavilion HDX9320EA: The Dragon
HP has refreshed the specifications of its giant 20.1in desktop-replacement laptop, suitably codenamed The Dragon. We’ve got the top-of-the-range model, the HDX9320EA, squatting menacingly down in PC Pro’s labs.
Even before you find yourself seduced by the Dragon’s formidable specifications (more of which later), it’s difficult not to be struck by the sheer size of the thing. We’ve seen some big laptops, but HP’s HDX9320EA takes the dragon-sized doggy biscuit. Acer’s Aspire 8920G Gemstone Blue was a big blighter, with its 18.4in display and suitably huge footprint, but compared to HP’s beast it begins to look fairly modest. Even Dell’s chunky gaming behemoth, the XPS M1730, starts to look almost, well, portable. And as for the sub-1kg Toshiba R500 in the picture below, it’s positively dwarfed.
Indeed, just picking the Dragon up is enough to wonder why it isn’t plastered with giant-sized health warnings. Once one of the more muscular members of the PC Pro team proved their might by manfully dragging the HP onto the scales, we were in for a shock. 8.5 kilograms. Blimey. That’s about seven MSI Winds (or Advent 4211s for that matter). If you’re thinking of using the Dragon on your lap, think again. As you can see by the photo below, the sheer exertion required to lift the HP is enough to send you cross-eyed. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Position the HDX9320EA on a desk, in the corner of a lounge or, if you’re suitably flush, in the confines of a luxury yacht or motor home, though, and there’s no argument that it’s a highly impressive looking bit of kit. The familiar HP gloss black and silver Imprint paint-job looks slick, and the glossy loveliness of every single one of the screen’s 20.1 inches makes it look like a laptop worth more than even the £1,399 price tag suggests.
Practicality isn’t lacking either. The full-sized keyboard is a fine example, and the huge footprint leaves room for a slim Media Center remote to dock neatly beside it. And whilst most laptop displays are limited to tilting back and forth, the Dragon’s, thanks to a clever locking hinge assembly, also pivots like an adijustable TFT display. Whether you’re sitting right next to it, or controlling it with the remote control, it’s easy to get the display in just the right position.
Equally there’s no shortage of connectivity. USB, FireWire, HDMI, eSata, ExpressCard/54 and a TV aerial socket for the built-in TV tuner – pretty much everything bar the kitchen sink.
And as for those specifications, well, they’re impressively well balanced, too. A powerful Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 barrels along at 2.5GHz and with 4GB of RAM in tow, it’s more than capable of playing back the very latest high-bitrate VC1-encoded Blu-ray movies with nary a hint of stutter. Twin 250GB hard drives provide ample space for oodles of music, movies and recorded TV shows too, courtesy of the lovely Vista Media Center.
The mobile Nvidia GeForce 8800M GTS chipset is yet another sight for sore eyes. Desktop-replacement laptops so often boast superb processing power, generous storage and a fine display, then hamper themselves with puny graphics chipsets barely capable of rendering Minesweeper, let alone Crysis at decent-looking detail settings. Not so the HDX9320EA.
If there’s one thing that lets the side down, then it’s the single TV tuner. Of course, it is possible to combine the existing internal tuner with an aftermarket USB or ExpressCard model, but we’d have far preferred the neater solution of just having dual tuners in the first place.
But, cast that minor niggle to one side and HP look to have a bit of a stunner on their hands. It’s more than a little bit niche, but considering how much laptop you get for that £1,399 price tag, it almost begins to look like a bit of a bargain.