The past several months have seen a slew of laptops arrive in the PC Authority Labs with home entertainment ambitions. Sony's VAIO VGN-FZ38GU and Acer's Aspire 8920G (web ID: 120144) have tried to combine TV tuners, Blu-ray drives and fancy gimmicks to convince punters that their desktop replacement is the best option.
The latest contender comes from HP. Its HDX X16-1040 boasts a 16.4in screen with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is better than those on either the Toshiba Qosmio or Sony VAIO. There's a Blu-ray reader, TV tuner, Altec Lansing speakers and Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics make sure that HD footage runs smoothly.
The spec list is certainly full of enticements, but it's the screen that immediately attracts attention, and it isn't just for the 1080p native resolution. Quality is impressive throughout, detail looks sharp and it offers acres of desktop space.
As a bonus, the glossy finish isn't overly intrusive in a bright room, and there's no backlight bleed to speak of. Only a slightly dim brightness level got in the way of our enjoyment, but despite this Blu-ray movies look great.
The speakers are worth a mention too: Altec Lansing's expertise has resulted in audio that's a cut above what we usually hear on laptops, with rich and detailed treble plus punchy bass due to an extra speaker on the HP's underside.
Despite the entertainment focus, there's nothing wrong with the HDX's ergonomics. In order to accommodate the screen, the chassis is 380mm wide - enough to accommodate a full-sized keyboard and number pad. It's a pleasant keyboard to type on, with keys boasting plenty of travel, and above it is a useful row of touch-sensitive media buttons and indicators.
Meanwhile, build quality is beyond reproach. The screen barely flexes under pressure, hardly distorting at all, and the wristrest feels strong. If you plan on lugging it around - and with a weight of more than 3kg we're not sure we'd recommend it - you can be sure it will resist the travelling abuse. Our only word of caution concerns the styling.
It split the office in two, with many liking the dramatic contour lines on the shiny, attention-grabbing lid, and others considering it way over the top.
No-one can dispute this laptop's power, though. The processor is an Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile P8400 running at 2.26GHz and, coupled with 4GB of RAM, delivered a respectable 2D benchmark score of 1.24. It isn't quite as quick as the Acer Aspire and Sony VAIO mentioned earlier - the Acer managed 1.32 and the Sony 1.40 - but it's more than enough power to handle demanding entertainment apps.
Elsewhere, there's more hardware to covet. Intel's wireless 5100 AGN chip means fast draft-n, and Nvidia's GeForce 9600M GT graphics chip can easily handle Blu-ray decoding as well as some basic gaming. In our Crysis test, the laptop returned a respectable 47fps in our low-quality benchmark - don't expect to push it any higher, though. There's also the hybrid analogue/digital TV tuner, to suit all areas of broadcast.
Unfortunately, the impressive list of components does have one significant downside: battery life. In our light-use test, the HP lasted for only 2hrs 27mins, with this time dropping to 1hr 22mins in our more demanding test. HP does sell additional batteries, with six-cell and 12-cell models available - the latter should bring the time away from the mains to around the five-hour mark.
Despite these issues, the X16-1040 is an impressive laptop. It isn't particularly portable, but it doesn't need to be: the Full HD resolution screen, Blu-ray drive and excellent speakers mean that it's the ideal entertainment desktop replacement.
Add in the TV tuner, respectable performance and relatively low cost - $2099 is more expensive than the Qosmio, but less than the Acer Aspire and Sony VAIO - and HP can rightfully claim this as the best-value entertainment laptop around.