The competitively priced HP Pavilion A820n is a well-designed system with some great home-entertainment features. Most notably, it is the first desktop PC we’ve tested with a DVD±RW drive that includes HP’s LightScribe technology, which enables the drive to print labels on specially coated discs. Though it can work a bit slowly at times, LightScribe provides the easiest way we’ve seen to neatly label a disc. (See “HP’s LightScribe Etches DVD Labels” for more information.) In addition, camera buffs will like the nine-in-one memory card reader on the front of the case, and the 200GB hard drive gives users ample space for storing digital photos, video, and music.
Our test model came with HP’s F1703 17-inch LCD monitor, which displayed sharp, clear text even at small sizes. Photos looked vivid, with good detail, and the adjustable stand let us easily raise and lower the screen. However, DVD movies appeared grainy and dark.
The A820n supports Intel’s High Definition Audio specification; it also supports 7.1 audio, but you must buy speakers separately, as the PC comes with none.
The A820n’s attractive case allowed easy access to both front and back ports, which are placed right in the middle rather than at the bottom, as is common on many systems. The front ports are behind an easy-access sliding door. The PC also has seven USB 2.0 and two FireWire ports. Superb labeling of components and color-coding of ports indicate clearly where to attach devices.
Our test system’s interior was neatly organized and easy to access. The side panel came off easily to reveal unobstructed interior components. However, the unit had no open internal drive bays and just one open three-inch externally accessible drive bay.
Our A820n, which had a 3.2-GHz Pentium 4 540 processor and 512MB of RAM, scored 84 in our WorldBench 5 tests, on a par with other systems having this processor and the same amount of RAM.
The manuals we received were comprehensive and well written, with sections on getting started and getting the most out of a computer. HP gets high marks for the manuals’ clear, complete troubleshooting solutions.
This value-priced PC comes with an eight-in-one memory card reader and an optical drive that burns disc labels.