HP’s gray and deep blue tower features several design pluses that users will find handy. There’s a front IEEE 1394 port and two front USB 1.1 ports behind a flip-up cover to make connecting peripherals quick and painless. HP also includes a flip-open CD-ROM case on the top of the tower, letting you keep a few CDs within easy reach. Matching components include a large, comfortable keyboard with 21 extra keys for, among other things, accessing the Net and controlling your CD or DVD disc playback.
The 17-inch HP F70 LCD performed well in our image tests rendering text crisply and displaying our test photograph with bright, accurate colors. We do have one gripe: the display’s vertical angle of view is relatively narrow. Images appeared too dark when viewed from below and too light when from above. Most of the better LCD panels have a vertical viewing angle of at least 140 degrees, but HP lists the F70 at 105 degrees.
An extensive software bundle includes Microsoft Works 6.0, Corel’s WordPerfect Office 2002, and a little-too-late copy of TaxCut 2001. Though equipped with a whopping 1 gigabyte of DDR memory, this Pavilion posted a score of 119 on our PC WorldBench 4 tests, slightly below the average for similar Windows XP Home systems.
Documentation includes a variety of manuals, as well as a setup poster. Two “Getting Started” guides detail setup and troubleshooting fairly well, while two upgrading manuals include plenty of information.
While the base of the F70 LCD includes a built-in speaker, HP also included Cambridge SoundWorks’ CSW320, an impressive three-speaker set that pumped out thumping bass and loud, crisp trebles during our DVD movie playback and audio tests.
The interior of this midsize tower isn’t as impressive as the outside. Although two thumbscrews simplify removing the sturdy side panel, the crowded and messy interior makes it tough to reach components inside. And our configuration had only one unused PCI slot and one open internal drive bay.