Whether you opt for Blu-ray or HD DVD, a select group of laptops now come with drives that let you play and/or burn high-definition content.
High-definition DVDs look great when played on desktops with large monitors, but you needn't be confined to your home to enjoy HD movies. A small but growing number of media laptops come with standard or optional hi-def drives. Blu-ray or HD DVD? Choices are available for either standard.
The HP Pavilion DV9000t (Vista) is an Editors' Choice 17-inch laptop that's improved through several iterations. It now sports Vista Ultimate and an HD DVD-ROM drive, with a remote that fits in the laptop's ExpressCard slot. HP's own playback software, QuickPlay 2.3, is the best in the business. It lets you play your DVDs (including HD) without booting Windows. The Pavilion HDX9000 is HP's first 20-inch (!) laptop, and is equipped with the new Intel Centrino Duo platform. Its screen resolution is 1,680-by-1,050, great for watching movies, editing videos, and playing games. Although the HDX9000 now ships with a dual-layer DVD-rewriteable drive, an optional ($400) HD DVD-ROM drive should be available by the summer, as well as a WUXGA (1,920-by-1,200) screen option ($150). These add a substantial premium to the already hefty price tag, but HD playback prospects on this large, hi-def screen are worth salivating over.
The Dell XPS M1710 (Blu-ray) is a slick gaming machine that integrates a BD-RE drive for playing or burning Blu-ray disks. Movie playback on the Dell, which uses Cyberlink's PowerDVD 6.6 for BD software, is magnificent.
The Acer TravelMate 8210-6038 is a business laptop with media features, most prominently its BD-RW recordable drive, which lets you play or burn Blu-ray video discs. Unfortunately, the drive is best for backup as the machine lacks the accessories such as remote control, built-in sensor, and even playback buttons needed to optimize the HD viewing experience.
Still picking sides in the high-def video format wars? Whichever side you're supporting, we have the laptop to kick your viewing experience up several notches. Read on to find the one that's right for you.
Mentioned In This Roundup:
HP Pavilion HDX9000 ($4,250, direct)
It's the best 20-inch laptop on the market—that is, if you're willing to shell out the money for both the computer and the chiropractic fees.
HP Pavilion dv9000t (Vista) ($2,569, direct)
If you're ready to jump on the HD DVD bandwagon, the dv9000t offers the best playback software and features on a desktop-replacement laptop.
Dell XPS M1710 (Blu-ray) ($4,249, direct)
The M1710 (Blu-ray) is still the best gaming laptop in the market when you factor in its new video card and a processor that can be tweaked. The Blu-ray experience, for the most part, is positive, but needs improvement.
Acer TravelMate 8210-6038
The Acer TravelMate 8210-6038 is a very powerful desktop replacement, but integrating a Blu-ray drive might be a little premature for a business laptop.