This is my second laptop from HP. The specs include a 2.5ghx processor, 3GB of RAM, a Blu-Ray/DVD rewriter (Blu-Ray read only) and Microsoft Home Premium.
The laptop when you switch it on for the first time, asks you for personal details and helping you customise the laptop. The process takes between 15 - 20 minutes to complete. Then you're ready to go. A copy of Norton Antivirus and The Sims is included. I ditched Norton because it's resource hungry and installed Avast.
Exterior finish and design - the lid has a faint pattern printed on the black gloss lid so keeping it smudge free is next to impossible. The silver surround around the keyboard area looks sleek but when the partly close the lid, you'll see that this surround gets very dirty. The laptop weighs in at just over 3kg. Not portable but not as heavy as HP's 20" HDX laptop.
Battery life - you'll be lucky to get anything over 90 minutes in browse mode. As for DVD mode or anything equally intensive, that power supply is required.
Keyboard - feels a bit spongy but is responsive. Don't like the Shift keys though - they are hard to spot as only an upwards arrow indicates it's a Shift key. HP have done this to try and cram the keyboard into a smaller space. The touchpad is pretty good but I don't use it because I find a mouse to be a better tool for using the laptop. A separate numeric keypad is handy for those intensive numeric tasks. There are a number of functions keys that initiate shutdowns, control screen brightness etc.
Screen - the screen is a glossy 17" widescreen powered by a Nvidia 8600GS graphics card. It may not be the bees knees of video graphics but it is more than powerful enough for some games and graphics applications. It helps that it has 512MB of RAM built into it. For playback of movies, this screen is excellent but it isn't HD. It's a shame because the Blu-Ray functionality built into the laptop looks fantastic.
Speakers - the Altec Lansing speakers are clear but lack bass and volume. Okay, you may use an external set of speakers but considering the price, HP could have incorporated a more powerful speaker system. However, if you use the headphone sockets with a decent pair of headphones, the in-built sound card is fantastic.
Webcam - yes, this comes with a webcam and microphone. It's only 1.3MP - I actually don't use it as I have a Logitech 9000 which is far better both picture and sound wise. Its adequate though if you're not after anything powerful.
Sockets - 4x USB sockets, 1x ExpressCard socket, 1x dial-up, 1x gigabit Ethernet, 1x mini Firewire port, 1x VGA port, 1x PS2 port, 1x HDMI and card reader (SD, Memory stick, XD) are available. There is also an expansion port. Let's not forget that the laptop comes with a remote control to control the laptop although the spring mechanism that holds the remote is tough to engage when removing and inserting the remote from and to the laptop.
Blue-Ray/DVD drive - this drive can burn and read DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD-DL as well as CD-R and CD-RW. Speeds are average (16x for CD-R) and 8x for DVD. As for Blu-ray, the drive can only play them so if you're looking to burn Blu-Ray, then this laptop won't fulfil that requirement. The drive is quiet and doesn't generate a racket.
Hard drive - although the drive contains a 320GB hard drive, after formatting to NTFS, you really have around 300GB. First thing worth noting, the drive is split into two partitions. The first partition contains your programs on approximately 286GB of space. The second partition is roughly 11GB and contains the recovery data (operating system and drivers) as you do not get a copy of Vista Home Premium on DVD. However, the best thing to do is use the in-built recovery tool to create a backup of the recovery data.
Processing speed - inside resides a 2.5ghz processor with 6MB of cache RAM. So what does this mean? Basically, it's quick and responsive. If you do video encoding, you'll find the processor pretty quick. Also, because it's a Core 2 Duo chip, you can do something else whilst it does some intensive work without sacrificing performance unless you're running a multitude of intensive applications.
RAM - 3GB of RAM helps speed things along. With Vista Home Premium, at least 1GB is used for the operating system alone however you can turn off the fancy graphics to free up memory.
Wireless Connectivity - the laptop has Bluetooth 2.0 and the latest wireless chipset meaning you can take advantage of 'n' wireless routers. This promises faster and longer transmission distances but I don't have a 'n' compatible router to prove this.
Noise and heat - this may appear silly but you want a laptop that is quiet and doesn't generate heat that could fry an egg. Luckily this laptop generates minimal heat when idle but when it's busy, it generates a fair bit of heat and noise. I would be inclined to invest in an Akasa notebook cooler - it cools the base of the laptop hence prolonging the life of the laptop.