Just below the touch-sensitive strip of buttons is a large keyboard with a dedicated numerical keypad. This is comfortable to use apart from the undersized shift buttons. The mouse trackpad takes some getting used to. It looks great but its pocked surface isn't ideal. It's not very smooth so using it often feels as if you're battling with the cursor.
The rest of the laptop is very well-designed, though. There's an infrared remote control built into chassis, but it's not one of those rubbish ones that fit into a PC Card slot. This one has a dedicated hollow next to the keyboard and clips securely into place. It's lovely.
Most of the Dragon's components are geared towards multimedia entertainment. The 20-inch screen, for example, is great for watching movies, but HP misses a trick in not making it 'Full HD'. Its native resolution of 1,680x1,050 pixels is ample, but we've seen 1,920x1,080 pixels on smaller 17-inch screens, so there's no real excuse not to go higher.
Attached to the display is an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card -- ATI's fastest available mobile solution. It's backed by 256MB of dedicated memory and has enough horsepower to allow 3D gaming and HD movie playback via the HDMI port. Don't expect the Dragon to run games as fast as laptops with twin graphics cards, but it's a better solution than the Radeon X1800 in the Dell XPS M2010.
Our review sample of the HDX9000 uses an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500. This has a pair of cores, each running at 2.2GHz and sharing 4MB of Level 2 cache. It is, as you might expect, pretty nippy, but the good news for speed freaks is that it can be upgraded. HP gives you the option of an Intel Core 2 Extreme X7900 running at 2.8GHz -- the fastest laptop chip on the market. As standard, 2GB of RAM is supplied, with 4GB available if you're more demanding.
Storage in the HDX9000 is impressive for a laptop. Ours shipped with a pair of 200GB Toshiba MK2035GSS hard drives, one for storing the operating system, applications and the like, and the other for stashing your files. The Dragon can accommodate up to half a terabyte of storage over two 250GB hard drives, but we challenge anyone who isn't a file-sharing pirate to run out of space in a hurry.
Also impressive was the addition a Toshiba TS-L802A HD DVD-ROM
drive. This allows playback of HD DVD movies, which you can either
watch on the laptop or on a television via an HDMI cable (not
included). It can't write to HD-DVD discs, but it'll burn dual-layer
DVD+R discs at up to 2.4x, or DVD+RW discs at 4x, which is fine for
backup purposes and burning DVD movies.