In contrast to the many home PCs that come in standard black cases, the $1870 HP Pavilion 1050y has an attractive silver-and-white design. White facings over the optical drives and a white panel that slides up over the front ports help maintain the clean, simple look. Under the panel sit two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and audio ports, including an uncommon line-in port–good for connecting an MP3 player and playing music back through the system, for example. A memory card reader resides in the other externally accessible drive bay.
The 1050y’s look is echoed in the HP keyboard, which has eject buttons for the two optical drives–a nice touch that can make life easier if you are copying a CD or installing a program that comes on several CDs. The keyboard also has five programmable function keys, plus another group for controlling media. The keyboard itself has a good, solid feel.
The tidy design of the exterior doesn’t carry over to case’s interior. Although the IDE cables for the optical drives are tucked out of the way, the unused power connectors are tied together in a large bundle that hangs loosely, and it’s possible that these could get caught in the fan on the processor’s oversized heat sink. The cable bundle also hangs over the memory slots, so adding or upgrading the memory will be something of a hassle–you will have to unplug the motherboard power connector and push the bundle out of the way.
Our test system came with 512MB of DDR400 RAM in two DIMMS and with two vacant memory slots. It achieved a WorldBench 5 score of 89–a little disappointing for a machine with a 3.6-GHz Pentium 4 processor. Some PCs we’ve tested have scored higher running on 3.2-GHz and 3.4-GHz Pentium 4 chip sets.
Text looked sharp on HP’s 19-inch F1905 LCD monitor, even at small font sizes. However, photos and a DVD movie looked less appealing–colors appeared overly bright and almost cartoonish. Our test system didn’t come with speakers, but the VS19 monitor does include two built-in speakers. These would be fine for listening to music while you work, but they aren’t loud enough for movie watching.
Our test system came with a single 160GB SATA hard drive. Though the motherboard has connectors for an additional three SATA drives, the only place to put such a drive is in an unoccupied floppy drive bay; two other externally accessible bays are blocked by the front panel ports and the media card reader. No other externally accessible drive bays are available, although with two optical drives (a 16X DVD±RW drive and a 48X CD-RW drive), you probably won’t need them. The DVD±RW drive is a LightScribe model, which can use the laser to write a label on specialized media–you simply burn the disc, flip it over and reinsert it, and then run the LightScribe software to create the label.
This system offers a nice external design and enough performance for general tasks, though expansion is made difficult by the untidy interior.
HP Pavilion A1050y
WorldBench 5 score of 89, 3.6-GHz Pentium 4 560 CPU, 512MB of DDR400 SDRAM, Windows XP Home, 160GB hard drive, double-layer DVD±RW and CD-ROM drives, NVidia GeForce 6600 graphics card with 256MB of graphics RAM, 19-inch HP F1905 monitor, speakers built into monitor, midsize tower case. One-year parts and labor warranty; 24-hour daily toll-free support during warranty period.
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Laura Blackwell's title is PCWorld Downloads Editor, but she can't keep her hands off cloud software, either.