Review: HP Pavilion dv2840tx ‘Artist Edition’

Whilst the casing design won’t appeal to everybody, HP never intentioned the dv2840tx Artist Edition notebook to appeal to the everyday consumer. This notebook is designed to swing a younger crowd into the HP stable – and perhaps even draw some graphic designers away from their MacBooks and into the world of Windows.

The actual casing was designed by Joao Oliviera from Portugal, as part of HP and MTV’s 2007 notebook-design competition. Although thousands of stunning illustrations were sent in, HP has chosen a highly distinctive, and even thought-provoking variant.

The highlights continue under the lid, with the entire screen surrounds and keyboard layout painted a deep brown. In bright lighting this turns a rich chocolate, whilst in a more natural light it is almost black. The keyboard, having a ‘painted’ finish, can feel quite worn at times, but it is very comfortable to use, even during extended typing periods. It is also really well put together, with none of the keys bending and no difference in feel after a real keyboard bashing.

The touchpad is lacquered in a golden bronze finish and although it feels very ’sticky’ at first, especially coming from a MacBook Pro user, it is very functional and accurate for when you are not using an external mouse.The palm rests provide decent grip and do not grow too hot over extended use. They are decorated in a similar fashion to the lid of the notebook.

Feature set

The dv2840tx Artist Edition, like its other dv2000 series stablemates, ships with Windows Vista Home Premium. HP probably should have included Vista Ultimate for the premium market that this notebookwill appeal to, if simply for Samba server integration (which alarmingly is not part of Home Premium).

HP does include some ‘bloatware’ with the notebook but we were very pleased to see that this does not clog the desktop with icons of free trials by default; all included ‘crapware’ is hidden away in the start menu and can be removed fairly easily.

Otherwise, apart from some full-version HP image editing software, the Artist Edition features a fairly vanilla Vista software set. Because it is not weighed down by unnecessary programs, the 2.4GHz processor, of the new ‘Penryn’ type from Intel can perform to its full capability.

In terms of expansion and external ports, the Artist Edition is pretty well set. Disappointingly you only get two USB ports, and they’re side by side, which can be a squeeze, but the laptop more than makes up for that lack by integrating three video out solutions – S-Video, VGA, and outstandingly – HDMI. You also get a solitary FireWire port, 100mbit Ethernet, a media card reader, 56k modem port, DVD read/write drive, and a special holder-port for the bundled Media Centre remote.

On the front edge of the notebook are three audio ports – one microphone in, but two headphone out ports. This is great, as that one time that you need to share audio with your friends, or are on a long flight, you’ll be able to plug two sets in.

Wirelessly, you can connect to the net via 802.11g spec WiFi or to peripherals via Bluetooth 2.0. Unfortunately we were not able to share any files between a MacBook Pro and the Artist Edition, but this may have been a niggly glitch with the loaner.

Performance

The Artist Edition is definitely quick, due to its 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ‘Penryn’ processor. As already stated, it really shines right out of the box, and even under very heavy pressure from two or three Adobe CS3 applications running together.

For designers who may have a Mac Pro, or possibly a strong Windows desktop at the office, the Artist Edition can and will satisfy their needs for a portable Adobe app powerhouse. Photoshop CS3 was a standout on the Artist Edition, opening quickly and processing large edits faster than a base MacBook, which was a surprise.

The dedicated 128mb NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS graphics card works pretty well for some light gaming, too. In highly intensive and immersive games it stumbled a bit but generally framerates of 25+ were achievable on most games with medium-high graphics settings.

Cold booting to the login screen took less than average lengths of time, too, usually taking around 45-60 seconds to achieve this.

Bottom line

The HP Pavilion dv2840tx Artist Edition is a great notebook. If you are an artist, or designer of some sort, than I am sure you would find this to be a reliable, fast, stylish portable powerhouse for on-the-go editing. However, if you really want the best of power and looks for your laptop, you’re still better with an Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro.

Whilst that may be, though, if you are after a Windows laptop for below A$2000, then the Artist Edition, or its slightly more conservative ‘Thrive’ sibling, and its decent feature list, above average performance and sheer comfort when working for extended periods should appeal to you.The HP dv2840tx is too good to look over.

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