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For performance testing we had to alter our usual testing due to the system refusing to run PC Mark 05, due probably to some unidentified software conflict. However, we encountered no such problems with our own 2D benchmarks, while we also ran some gaming benchmarks at the native resolution to gauge gaming ability.
Given the generous specification of this model the 2D performance was excellent. It zipped briskly through both the Photoshop Elements and VirtualDub tests, while in general use it was snappy and dealt easily with juggling multiple tasks. Playing high definition video content was also near faultless, with no significant problems with dropped frames or tearing.
Moving onto gaming, it should be taken as a given that you won't be able to run more recent games at highest settings, however, in general, performance is strong enough. At the 1,680 x 1,050 native resolution the HD9095EA managed solid frame rates in both Counter-Strike: Source and Call of Duty 2, with anti-aliasing enabled with detail and textures set to their highest. This is a pretty good effort and, though neither of those games are DX10 capable, experience shows you will be able to play DX10 games so long as you're willing to make some compromises on detail and effects.
Overall, then, performance is excellent and can genuinely be considered to be of desktop replacement quality. Clearly, though, this doesn't come cheap and in many respects the HDX is an acquired taste in terms of its size. However, for the price, you're getting good performance, features and superb design, the latter of which is a rare and valuable commodity. Many a notebook will deliver similar performance and features at a lower price, but they'll be little more than a disappointing generic slab of plastic. With the HDX, you'll never experience that pang of regret.
Indeed, the only regret you're likely to have is one that I touched upon earlier; namely, the lack of a 1080p capable display. For some this may prove a deal breaker, however it's the single serious criticism you can make and overall the HDX is practically without peer. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of degrees and how important this aspect of the machine is to you.
If it is very important then you'll want to consider the likes of Toshiba's Qosmio, which is smaller but features a 1,920 x 1,200 display and adds Dolby Home Theatre support into the mix too, though it can't match the HDX in terms of ingenuity or ease of use. It's in these areas where the various design innovations really pay off, making the HDX distinctly superior to any number of competing 20in desktop replacements.
With its HDX series, HP has taken the desktop replacement concept and raised the bar considerably. As such it's a very attractive machine and though the lack of a Full HD display to match its HD DVD drive may be disappointing, the superlative design and excellent performance more than make up for this failing.