Test Bench:HP Pavilion 8785C Turnkey
$1,999

Hewlett-Packard

3000 Hanover Street

Palo Alto, CA 94304-1185

(800) 826-4111

www.hp.com

As the word "multimedia" becomes redundant and even expected in the home-computing marketplace, a number of manufacturers are racing to join the digital video editing bandwagon. Set in motion by such forward-looking industry giants as Apple and Sony, this movement promises to add digital video editing power to the standard feature list of a growing number of home computers.

Among the more recent manufacturers offering a FireWire-based digital video editing solution as a standard home computer package is Hewlett-Packard. The company’s Pavilion 8785C model sports a pre-installed Pinnacle Studio DV package, which includes FireWire I/O and the easy-to-use Studio DV editing software, as well as a whopping 60GB Ultra-DMA hard drive for video storage. As if all of this doesn’t sound good enough, also included in the system is a 1GHz (gigahertz) Pentium III processor, 128MB of system RAM, DVD-ROM, 8x write CD-Writer Plus and MPEG-2 playback for DVD-Video disks. All in all, the HP Pavilion 8785C represents a very powerful and stylish home computer with video editing capabilities that will provide enough punch to keep the beginner to intermediate level video hobbyist happy.

Out of the Box

Setup of the Pavilion 8785C was as simple and fast as any home computer; the handy visual diagram should prove very useful for beginners. The Pavilion 8785C’s styling is worthy of mention. Perhaps inspired by Apple’s colorful iMac, the 8785C is available in krypton green, cobalt blue or xenon purple. Though they might rightly be accused of following another company’s trend-setting lead, Hewlett-Packard’s decision to include a touch of flair in their computers is an interesting and welcome change from the previous industry standard beige-box approach.

Once the computer is set up and ready to go, it’s a simple matter to hook a camcorder to the FireWire and begin editing with the Pinnacle Studio DV software. Those who are familiar with the earlier Pinnacle Studio product line will know the ease of use and automated processes that this product brings to video editing. With Studio DV, it’s possible to automatically log an entire tape with the push of a single button; in fact, the software will even capture a low-resolution version of the entire tape. This means that this system is capable of storing an entire hour’s worth of DV or Digital8 video in only 150MB of space. This not only save a great deal of time, it allows you to use this low-resolution footage for your preliminary edit, then capture just the clips you need to complete your project. (For more information on the specifics of the Pinnacle Studio DV product, see the review in the July 2000 issue of Videomaker.)


Plus and Minus

On the plus side, the Pavilion 8785C is aimed directly at the user who’s never edited video before. For such people, this computer is a godsendan excellent combination of a powerful computer, a simple editing interface and a reasonable price. This computer should succeed beautifully for people that want all of these features.

On the minus side, if you’re a professional video editor or if you plan to become one at some point, then you’ll probably want a beefier computer and more specialized software to work with. Though the Pavilion 8785C does provide plenty of hardware muscle, small but important issues like the size of the case and the overall consumer configuration of the gear might steer you toward a more serious workstation-style computer. (If this is what you’re after, don’t hesitate to check out HP’s heftier computer offerings at www.hp.com.)

Regardless of the consumer-oriented nature of this machine, render speeds were very fast with the Pavilion 8785C. A one-second dissolve transition took only about ten seconds to render. This is very impressive for a consumer machine. Quality of the final work was also very high, owing to a combination of the FireWire all-digital connection and the included pre-configured titles and effects that come with the Studio DV software.

To summarize, the Pavilion 8785C is the next step in the fulfillment of one our longtime dreamsthe inclusion of digital video editing features as a standard option on home computers. If things continue in this vein, then the ability to edit video will be as commonplace as the ability to word-process a document and send e-mail. Anybody with a computer would be able to edit home movies and even create their own features. And when that happens, we’ll all live in a better, more video-friendly world. Our hats are off to HP for this offering. We hope they keep them coming!

TECH SPECS

Platform: PC

Operating System: Windows 2000

Processor: Intel Pentium III 1GHz

RAM: 128MB

Hard Drive: 60GB Ultra DMA

Inputs/Outputs: FireWire x3, USB x3

DVD-ROM: 12x

CD-ROM: 8x Write CD-Writer pro

STRENGTHS

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Stylish

    WEAKNESSES

  • Not easily upgradable
  • Small case

    SUMMARY

  • Beginners will enjoy easy setup, intuitive software and FireWire connectivity. The Hewlett-Packard Pavilion is a great addition to the growing market of DV-ready computer systems.
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