* Prices may differ from that shown
I don't know if it's because of the Intel TV advert which seems to have been on our screens for an age, but I've always made sure the PC or laptop I've purchased in the past has had an Intel inside...as the slogan goes.
However, last Christmas I thought I'd treat myself and was on the hunt for a laptop that would replace my day to day machine which was getting on a bit. So, I ended up in the Boxing Day madness of PC World, Currys & Comet in the hope of bagging a bargain.
As a brand Hewlett Packard have always struck me as quite reputable and reliable which is how the salesman started off his pitch. Agreeably I played around with the display model HP G56 and thought that at first glance it seemed quick and quite powerful for the price - at that time around £359 (which included a virus protection package).
But then a bombshell: I noticed the AMD sticker on the bottom right below the keyboard. The salesman reassured me that AMD processors were just as smart as Intel processors and this one in particular - the Athlon II P320 - was very quick indeed.
Through my fairly limited technical knowledge of the makings and workings of a laptop, the 3GB of RAM and 2.1 GHz processing speed seemed well up to the mark for what I wanted the machine for: a bit of web browsing, a few presentations here and there, maybe a bit of Photoshop or Dreamweaver for the long winter nights...and yes, this laptop has delivered...to a point.
I think that point came sometime over the last couple of months where there has been a noticeable shift in the speed of how applications are handled. I now, fairly consistently, will need to reboot the laptop once or twice daily because of a 'Not Responding' error in Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. Is this down to the AMD processor? Of course I can't be sure, but its the only variable that has changed from other machines I've purchased - and they've lasted a lot longer than this.
Whilst a big benefit is that the laptop comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - which is required for home networking - the pre-loaded software is pretty limited and you'll be shelling out for Office, Outlook or maybe any Adobe products you might like.
One really nice feature of this laptop is the built in webcam above the screen which makes video conferencing, Skype and MSN video calls incredibly simple.
Other features worth a mention include: the touchpad, which works well for using the mouse; the 250GB of hard drive which you probably, like me, won't get anywhere near filling up; the DVD re-writer which is pretty fast; the 15.6" screen which is nice and precise and the built in wireless networking which hasn't really let me down. Oh and the battery life is very very good at first, but like most chargeable lihtiums, the charge does start to decrease after a while.
Out Of The Box: Takes quite a while to configure and set up, especially if you have bought the machine with some anti-virus software and the like. However, it's all pretty straightforward and the Wizard does its job well.
Price: The online HP store are currently doing this laptop for £299 with free delivery and to be honest I'd say this is a lot of laptop for the lolly - be prepared however to experience a down turn in speed after six months or so.