The HP Pavilion H8-1040 is a well-designed computer. The H8-1050 offers a better video card for gamers but then the H8-1050 does not have the nicer audio card. The video card has 3 outputs for 3 monitors. One of the outputs is a mini HDMI. The HDMI also has audio on it. This is the same audio signal quality that comes out the optical digital output. So you can run one HDMI cable to the TV monitor and you have video and sound. My Sony TV transfers the same exact audio content to my home theater amplifier in optical format. The Windows 7 software and HP audio drivers only allow you to select one audio output at a time. If you have audio on the HDMI output, none of the other audio outputs can be turned on.
I normally build my own systems but cannot build a H8-1040 equivalent for the price. HP hit a sweet spot in the Pavilion series. I use my computer as one component in a home theater system. The single tuner TV card would be better if it had 2 tuners. The single tuner works perfectly with Windows 7 Media Center. You really don’t need any other software to run the tuner. I also have another computer with a dual TV tuner. I can record TV shows on 2 of my Windows 7 computers. Then I can watch those shows from any other Windows 7 computer, on the network, in my home. I do not believe you can get good HD content with the slower WIFI network speeds. You either need network cabling or the high speed WIFI.
The 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600 Quad-Core is a bit of an overkill but 4 or 5 years from now it will be an average power processor. The computer, as is, should have great longevity.
The motherboard does not have much room for expansion but with all the USB devices, we need fewer cards to take up motherboard slots. The computer has USB ports on the front, top and rear. All the camera card slots on the front are convenient. The audio options on the back panel are great.
The keyboard and mouse are ok but for a home theater system the Adesso 2.4 GHz RF Wireless Mini Keyboard with Optical Trackball - USB is better. You can use the Adesso keyboard while leaning back in your recliner or sitting up in your bed. If you have a flat surface for a mouse then the keyboard and mouse supplied with the computer will be great.
The red light on the front of the computer is a little bright for me but some blue fingernail polish should tone it down.
The hard drive is a little slow at 5400 RPMs but when considering the 10GB of RAM the hard drive will not be doing a lot of work. As far as watching and recording TV the hard drive does just fine. A 5400 RPM hard drive will easily record 2 HD shows at the same time while you are watching a 3rd show.
The Blu-ray player is great for use in a home theater system. You no longer need other player devices other than a big amplifier.
The HP-1040 is an attractive, well designed computer for a good price. It runs quiet. It should last a long time.
The computer does not come with any CDs or DVDs but provisions are provided for you to make your own recovery discs or you can create it on a USB flash drive. This will allow you to restore the computer to factory condition.
Here are my Windows 7 performance readings.
Memory RAM 7.6
Gaming graphics 7.3 (this is still good for many games)
Primary Hard Disc 5.9
Note: You will probably want the HP-1050 if you are going to be doing 3D gaming. For most other purposes the HP-1040 is better with the higher quality audio. While the computer is perfect for my home theater system it was not designed for that purpose. It just works perfectly for that purpose. It is an overall general purpose computer with a lot of power and insignificant weaknesses.
I have had good success with HP support. I ordered my computer online from B&H so it is known upfront that some repair problems will involve more time than if you buy it at Fry’s and can exchange it the next day. But with companies like HP and B&H you will get all you can expect from online purchases. Occasionally you get an inexperienced technician but just say goodbye and call back again. My computer has had no problems.
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Amount Paid (US$): $1190
Operating System: Windows
Processor speed: over 1000
RAM: More than 256
Internal Storage: CD-RW and DVD
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50