HP Pavilion dv6-1240ea review

7 Sep 2009

An excellent laptop, that's keenly priced. As long as you can live with its glossy, eye-catching looks it's a very good buy

Price when reviewed: 
699(£699 inc VAT)
5

At first glance, the HP Pavilion dv6 would appear to be the very antithesis of the dour business laptop. Boasting flashy looks, a glossy screen and enough chrome-effect highlights to dazzle a footballer’s wife, it's not exactly shy and retiring. Look at the reasonable asking price, though, and the fashion-conscious crowd might be willing to cut the HP a bit of slack.

In fact, it's a rather attractive devil in its own quirky way, and there are plenty of nice touches, such as the glowing HP logo on the lid, and the curvy, smoothly contoured physique.

Rugged good looks

And whatever you think of the looks, build quality is a step above many of its rivals. The base feels strong and sturdy with only the slightest hint of creak, and while the lid is a little more flexible, it still feels capable of fending off the odd knock on its travels. The DV6 might be made of plastic, but its sharply-chiselled, sturdy frame doesn’t suffer for it in the slightest.

You won't be in a hurry to familiarise it with the great outdoors, though. At 2.84kg the DV6 is a hefty beast, and with the 4,200mAh battery providing just three hours of light use away from the mains, it’s a laptop destined for use in and around the house rather than on the road.

Start to use the HP, though, and its qualities will be enough to keep many prospective purchasers riveted to the spot. The 500GB hard drive provides ample room for a huge collection of movies, music and games and, handily enough, HP provide a miniature remote control to make the most of its media-playing aspirations. Neatly, the remote control docks away in the ExpressCard/54 slot when you’re not using it, and just pops out when you fancy kicking back and enjoying the dv6 at a distance.

And when it comes to less-exciting pastimes the keyboard is also very, very good. There is a little flex in its base but it’s not enough to ruin the dv6’s ergonomic charms. The slightly concave keys feel comfortable under the finger and, to its credit, HP has squeezed in a numeric keypad without compromising the layout.

Stealing the show

The 15.6in screen might be good, but it’s not quite as impressive as what’s come before. The 1,366 x 768 resolution seems to be becoming the new standard for many laptops, but it really doesn’t leave a great deal of space for working with lots of applications at once.

We also noticed a slight green tinge across the panel, a trait that left whites looking a little murkier than we’d like. But the HP’s display is by no means sub-standard. Indeed, compared to many of its competitors its ample brightness and good contrast leave it with its head held up high.

And elsewhere the DV6 puts in a great performance. The 2.1GHz Intel processor is nowhere near the top-of-the-line, but its twin processor cores and ample clockspeed keep Vista ticking along nicely enough to earn a score of 1.10 in our application-based benchmark tests.

Turn your attention to more entertaining pursuits, and the HP has even more to offer thanks to its ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 graphics chipset. This isn't the last word in gaming power, but it does do enough to smoothly dispatch the demands of our Crysis tests with an average of 45fps in low settings. For the occasional gamer, the HP is more than man enough.

Conclusion

It might not earn a perfect six overall, but the DV6 is an affordable, high-quality desktop replacement that makes a great case for itself. And, when you consider that it costs just £608 exc VAT, most people will find it decidedly easy to put up with those flash-Harry looks.

Details

Price ex VAT £608
Price inc VAT £699
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 6

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 379 x 258 x 45mm (WDH)
Weight 2.840kg
Travelling weight 3.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6500
Motherboard chipset Intel PM45
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Toshiba MK5055GSX
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive LG GT20L
Battery capacity 4,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader yes
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset IDT HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 0min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 14min
Overall application benchmark score 1.10
Office application benchmark score 1.21
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.19
Encoding application benchmark score 0.94
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.06
3D performance (crysis) low settings 45fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied CyberLink DVD Suite, Microsoft Works 9