HP's Pavilion range offers a huge choice of consumer laptops from entry-level machines to high-powered, big-screen media centres. The Pavilion dv8-1250ea falls into the latter category and is a stunning example of high-end mobile computing.

With its huge 18.4-inch screen, this is a laptop built for desktop use. At 4.1kg, you won't want to carry it far, although there is 174 minutes of battery power on offer when you need it. This drops to just 104 minutes when watching a DVD, however.

While the 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM processor runs at a slower base clockspeed than the 2.66GHz 620M chip of the Advent Sienna 700 and Sony VAIO VPC-Z12V9E/X, it is in fact far more powerful, due to its quad-core design, increased Hyper-Threading and efficient overclocking abilities.

Processing power

Offering twice the processing cores of the Advent and Sony, eight processing threads are in place for running multiple applications quickly and efficiently. The CPU is also able to overclock itself up to an impressive 2.8GHz when required for significantly improved performance.

In daily use, software opens and runs smoothly and effortlessly and we noticed little lag even running four or more applications simultaneously. That said, the Sony and Toshiba proved ever so slightly faster, due to their increased memory and faster CPU, respectively.

Graphics performance is equally powerful thanks to the Nvidia GeForce GT 230M GPU. This is a great machine for gaming, with the latest titles running with suitable speed. Frequent video and photo editing – including high-definition (HD) video – is also possible, adding to the HP's usability.

HD compatibility is further aided by the Full HD screen. The 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution allows HD – or 1080p – content to be shown in all its glory, while an HDMI port lets you connect to an HDTV.

This laptop also features a Blu-ray-compatible optical drive for watching the latest HD movies. The drive also functions as a standard DVD/CD rewriter, backing up the ample 640GB of storage provided by this machine's twin 320GB hard drives.

HP pavilion dv8-1250ea

Usability is excellent. The wide keyboard includes a numeric keypad and the board is smooth and accurate to use at all times, making it a true pleasure to work with.

If you're seeking a high-powered, bigscreen media centre for enjoying games, music and HD movies with the whole family, the Pavilion dv8-1250ea has a lot to offer.

While it can't quite match the power of the Sony and Toshiba Satellite A660-18N, this is still a stunning Core i7-powered laptop and one we like a lot.

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