After looking at some of my site stats I see my site getting hit quite frequently by google searches for the HP a307x so I’ll sate those searcher’s appetites by providing my comments on the a307x.
First, I love this PC…for the price I paid for it. I bought this PC from an OfficeMax store in Midland, MI. I purchased it while they were holding a “Friends and Family” sale for the friends and family of OfficeMax employees. I lucked out and found a friend on the internet so I could get the deal. Before MI sales tax, the PC cost $499.99.
The only difference I found between what I got and what is listed on HPs website is that my PC does not come with a DVD+R/W burner but with a 24x CD-R/W. Everything else is correct to my knowledge.
I was a bit disappointed by that, but I can live without a DVD burner, it wouldn’t be used anyway since I intended to use this PC exclusivly for playing PC games and watching movies.
There was one major problem to this system though. The on-board video card sucks! For comparison the video card in the laptop I bought last December is about the equal to the one that is in this PC, and it was worse than the ATI Radeon 7500 I bought the year before that. Every cloud does have its silver lining though. If the video had been “Ok” then I wouldn’t have upgraded it for a while, but because it was so bad I had added incentive to purchase a brand new video card for it, the ATI Radeon 9800 XT — read my comments on the 9800 XT.
That card cost the same as the PC did, but it was worth it…Finally no more choppy game play in the games I bought last year. The next thing to get an upgrade will be the RAM, with it only having 512MB it is enough for some/most games but I would like to take it up to 1GB.
Sound quality is okay, and good for being another onboard job, it definatly won’t compete with a SoundBlaster Live Platinum or better ;). That is the next thing on my list; I do have a sound blaster live platinum, but without a spare 5 1/4″ bay I can’t use the “Live! Drive” addition that comes with it; something that is hard to live without if I ever play FPS’s with headphones again.
The speakers that come with it are “harman/kardon” and they attach to the sides of the monitor. They are approximately 4 inches tall by 2.5″or 3″ wide. The sound coming out of them is pretty decent, my only concern is that the headphone jack is located on the right side of the right right speaker toward the back, making it difficult to reach blindly (as I often did when going to play a game). The volume control is located in front of the headphone jack and is quite large making it easy to find to turn the volume up and down.
Lights: HP has this thing with bright blue LEDs, which makes it easy to see (and stands out). Unfortunately I don’t like them that much, they’re too bright for my eyes making it hard to see what surrounds the surface. Luckily there are only 4 of these lights: one bright one on the speakers, two bigger but not as strong lights on the power buttons for the monitor and case, and a light to tell you when you’ve inserted media (see below).
If you have a digital camera, or other media device that uses SmartMedia, Compact Flash, or the SD/MMC cards the PC comes with a built-in media reader. My antique of a digital camera uses SmartMedia so that is all I have used and it works really well. Slide the card in the slot (connector side down) and the blinding blue LED comes on. Once I look back at the screen Windows XP is already asking what I want to do with the newly inserted media so you could say its fast :).
This drive as well as the floppy drive reside in a recessed area of the case where a nice little cover slides up and down to cover it up. Nice and neat, just how I like it! The recessed area also sports a single Firewire and USB 2.0 port so you can temporarily hook up all of your little devices for data transfer.
Speaking of USB and Firewire, in addition to the one of each on the front, the back has an additional firewire port and 4 more USB 2.0 ports, 2 next to the PS/2 ports and 2 more further down the back.
It comes with HPs standard “Record Now 6.0” application for making CD-R/W discs (Record Now is made by Sonic). Unfortunately it is a crippled version so you can make straight up audio and data CDs but if you want to extract audio to mp3, create a CD-Extra disc (both audio and video on the disc, this is the format regular music CDs use when they supply little extras for PC/Mac users), create backups of your hard drive, create VCDs, or optimize the video for those VCDs you need to upgrade the software.
Needless to say I chose to use the burning feature of Windows XP until I installed my favorite, Nero.
Like most PCs sold today it comes with a “new user edition” of Quicken, but it also comes with Microsoft’s Money 2003. I have no idea if either piece of software is crippled because I purchased Microsoft Money 2004 two weeks prior ;).
Unfortunately the HP comes with this really annoying piece of software called something like “HP Organize”, I can’t remember since I got rid of it right after I turned it on. Basically, from what I could glean it was supposed to be an all-in-one portal app putting your e-mail, calendar, documents, web site favorites, and photos right in front of you. Its a good idea, but its already been done; I use my desktop, AvantBrowser, Outlook, and the autoplay on my smartmedia card for that.
Given the right price I’d buy it again, the lack of a DVD burner was a little bit of a turn off, but because I don’t have a use for one it didn’t bother me too badly. I’d rather pay $0.06 for a CD-R than $1.00 or more for a DVD+R.
If a having a DVD burner IS important to you then I recommend getting a money-back guarantee from the retailer — in writing — before purchasing that you can either bring the PC back if the DVD burner is missing or get one installed for free (or at a substantially reduced price).