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HP Pavilion Media Centre review

Gather the family to watch TV on a budget media centre PC

The package we reviewed doesn't include a monitor

Our Verdict

The price is certainly attractive, but this doesn't mean there aren't sacrifices to be made


  • Superb value


  • Weak hardware

TechRadar Verdict

The price is certainly attractive, but this doesn't mean there aren't sacrifices to be made


  • +

    Superb value


  • -

    Weak hardware

No, it's not a mistake, this really is a Windows Media Center system, complete with digital/analog TV tuner (see This isn't quite the bargain it seems, though, because the package we reviewed doesn't include a monitor.

Whether you opt for the with-monitor package from Comet (£699) or take control and pick the display of your choice, it still should be a very reasonably priced system.

The low price and excellent TV tuner aren't the only selling points. The 16x dual-layer DVD writer includes LightScribe technology. It's a slow process and you need special (and more expensive) media, but it does give your discs a stylish look.

The Pavilion is also supplied with a thoughtful range of bundled software. Works 8.0 handles simple home office-type requirements, a 60-day version of Norton Internet Security keeps you safe online, there's various recovery software to help recover from any disasters and extras such as the Google toolbar come preinstalled.

This is all very useful, but there's is a price to pay for this and after using the system for a while you begin to realise what it is.

Very basic hardware

The scores highly on family-friendly extras, but doesn't do so well when it comes to hardware. The CPU is a basic Pentium D 820, which is slow by modern standards. There's only 1GB of RAM (the minimum needed to run Vista), a smallish 200GB hard drive and a single optical drive.

The 256MB GeForce 7300LE graphics card represents the most serious problem, because it only scraped 1,562 in 3DMark 2005. That's just about enough to play 3D games, but you'll have to reduce resolution and quality settings to achieve an acceptable frame rate, and even then the results may not be impressive.

Overall, the isn't a great performer, but it does just well enough in every area to be acceptable. Furthermore, the inclusion of the TV tuner makes this a handy entertainment PC for the whole family.