If thought of as an extreme laptop, the HP Pavilion dv9398ea (£1599 inc. VAT) looks relatively conservative. However, packed with features and offering a fairly portable chassis, this isn't a run-of-the-mill machine.

The 17-inch display is bright and vivid. However, with a lower 1440 x 900-pixel (WXGA) resolution, images do not appear quite as sharp, and there's not as much space on screen.

It also means you won't be able to take full advantage of the integrated HD DVD drive, which needs a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels (WUXGA) to play movies in true high-definition. But it's still better than regular DVD quality, and you'll get the benefit of the extra interactive features of HD DVD discs.

An HDMI port is built into the rear of the machine, allowing you to connect larger, external displays.

In terms of graphics, Nvidia's GeForce Go 7600 GPU is fitted, which is a mid-range card offering all the performance most users are likely to need. We had no trouble playing the latest games, and all our benchmarks ran without trouble.

Films are given an extra dimension thanks to respectable sounding speakers by Altec Lansing. There are a range of touch-sensitive buttons to make it easy to control your movies and music, and an instant-on feature means you don't need to wait for Windows to boot to watch films.

The screen creates plenty of room for a large and well-spaced keyboard, and the keys are tapered at the edges, making it easy and comfortable to type. However, the board is not as firmly mounted as we've come to expect from HP machines.

Unique styling

The HP's most striking aspect is its styling, with an unusual weaved finish, that HP calls Imprint. Covering the palm rests and back of the display, it helps to set the Pavilion apart from its rivals. Surprisingly for a desktop replacement machine, it remains semi-portable.

Weighing in at 3.7kg, we certainly wouldn't want to carry it to work on a daily basis, but it is lighter than most 17-inch laptops.

Unfortunately, the weight loss appears to have been achieved by compromising the build quality. Although the chassis is sturdy, the back of the screen flexes considerably and doesn't offer the protection we'd like, and the relatively thin chassis warms up during use.

Despite this, there is a lot to like in the HP Pavilion dv9398ea - most notably the range of features and contemporary design.