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Before I begin my review I have to admit that I am not the most technical minded of people, but as I have a husband who is an expert with anything that is electrical I have learned quite a lot over the years and am still learning. Prior to meeting him I had no option than to rely on other people, which isn't like me at all, particularly as I prefer to do things myself. We now live in a society where we seem to use computers for almost everything although I've yet to find one that will clean the oven or carry out the ironing! If you said to me five years ago that I would be shopping or banking online I would have laughed at you. However, the last few years have seen me spending more and more of my spare time tapping away at the keys, as I love looking for bargains as well as managing my bank account online. Unfortunately, our desk top computer is banished to the smallest room of the house and consequently, I felt very isolated, as my husband would be in the living room working on his laptop. As a result, I made a decision about 12 months ago to purchase a laptop, but didn't fancy the chore of having to find one, which would be suited to my needs. Consequently, I informed my husband of what I required and he carried out some online research and produced me with his findings. Prior to this I had never used a laptop in my life, as I preferred a large screen and keyboard, but I knew I needed to move with the times and of course, I needed to be more sociable and spend time in the living room with my husband as opposed to the small room in the house (and I don't mean the toilet!).
I had several options from which to choose with a budget of around £450, but if I'm totally honest, I screwed my nose up at each and every one of them, as I really could not make my mind up. Consequently, several months passed by and I still had not made my purchase. In the meantime, I thought I'd have a little practice on my husband's Acer to ensure that I would be able to effectively use a laptop and due to the fact that I have long fingernails I found myself tapping the adjacent keys and making the most dreadful mistakes! As I am a touch typist I am so used to typing extremely quickly and the problem I found with using a laptop is that it slowed me down so much! However, as I would describe myself as somewhat of a perfectionist I will persevere until I can get something right, so I continued using my husband's laptop much to his sheer dismay! A further choice of laptops was presented to me and at last, I made my choice and just before Christmas of last year I made my purchase and this review discusses Hewlett Packard's G56-130sa.
MY REASONS FOR CHOOSING THIS PARTICULAR LAPTOP AND ITS' APPEARANCE
Well, because hubby told me so! No, seriously - he presented me with a few choices; all of which met my requirements, as I wanted something that was not too big, a fairly good screen size and something that would be able to run several programmes with ease without the need for me to sit and wait impatiently whilst the pages loaded. I also wanted something that was fairly lightweight and stylish in appearance, unlike the rather large laptops that were once available several years ago. I needed the laptop to enable me to carry out online banking, browse the internet where I would subsequently make various purchases and I wanted to be able to upload my huge collection of family photographs. Whilst I am no expert on the huge range of laptops that are currently available I found this one very sleek in its' appearance when I studied it on the Curry's website. I had left the decision with the technical specifications to my husband who took a considerable time in explaining each and every one of them to me prior to my purchase! Whilst I can never profess to knowing exactly what role each of them play I now have a fairly good idea and enough knowledge to write this review on my own, although my husband has stated that he feels the need to check it prior to it being posted online!
USING THE LAPTOP AND ITS' SPECIFICATIONS
The laptop measures 374 mm in width x 246 mm in depth and x 32.8-37.8 mm in height and is fairly lightweight at 2.5 kg. It sits comfortably on my lap, although this sometimes proves a little problematic for me, particularly as I simply cannot get used to the mouse pad, so I frequently find myself plugging in a separate mouse and using it on a table in my living room and a large tray when I am in the comfort of my bed, but I will continue to practice. It operates with Windows 7 and has an Intel Pentium T4500 Processor and I have to say that the first time I used it I was in utter amazement at the speed in which it downloaded documents and opened up various websites, which would sometimes struggle on our desktop computer. According to the specifications provided on the side of the outer box the laptop also offers 2.3 GHz, 800 MHz and 1 MB L2 Cache and as I am somewhat of a novice I am not going to attempt to try and explain them! One of the initial drawbacks for me was the 15.6" LCD widescreen size, which provides us with an LED backlight and a resolution of 1366 x 768, particularly as I had been so used to working with a much larger screen. However, this is obviously not the fault of the laptop and simply me adjusting to my new toy and after several months of usage I am pleased that I am now happy with the smaller size, although initially I was of the opinion that I had made a huge mistake in purchasing a laptop.
I regularly use my laptop to carry out surveys, as I am a member of several online sites and many of them require me to listen to radio advertisements or watch a television advert, so it was important that the laptop offered me both excellent sound quality, which is provided to us in stereo. Whilst I always use the integrated speakers there is an audio interface, which allows you to plug in a pair of stereo headphones as well as a microphone, although this is not a feature I am likely to use. As previously stated, an important feature for me is that the laptop is able to store my large collection of precious photographs and thanks to the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M, which offers up to 1695 graphics memory I am able to do so with the laptop providing a 500 GB SATA hard drive. However, as I have hundreds upon hundreds of photographs; each of which will need to be initially scanned, this is task that I will be undertaking for a rather long period of time. The laptop offers a number of useful features such as Wi-Fi at 802.11 b/g/n and a 1.2 mega pixel webcam.
One of the areas I initially found somewhat difficult is the keyboard, which is black in appearance and very pleasing to the eye, particularly as I am used to using a fairly large curved Microsoft keyboard on our desktop computer. However, with continued practice I am now extremely comfortable with using it. The on/off switch is located in the upper left hand area and requires only a light press to operate. As with most modern keyboards we are provided with several one touch launch and action keys and the touch pad to operate the pointer, which is located in the lower centre, although this is something I will endeavour to master, so I can get rid of my mouse for once and for all! Unfortunately, the laptop is not accompanied with a hard copy user manual, as it is installed on the computer, so it is easily accessible at all times. The laptop operates with a 6-cell lithium-ion battery and Hewlett Packard state we will achieve up to 3 hours battery life, although I would have to say that I can only manage approximately 2½. There have been many times when I am reading an online review only to receive a message, which appears in the lower right hand corner of the screen, which advises that the battery is running low. This is received when there is only 10% remaining, which tends to run out quicker than I would have expected, as the laptop will go into standby after approximately ten minutes of receiving this message. The laptop is accompanied by a lead, which isn't as lengthy as I would have hoped, so it is always necessary for me to use an extension lead.
Although I never use the laptop on my lap I cannot state that the heat emitted is particularly hot and I would describe it as moderately warm, so I am of the opinion that its' intensity wouldn't be uncomfortable for the user. Unfortunately, this model does not offer a memory card reader, nor does it offer a bluetooth facility. Whilst I have no idea why I would need these, I would advise that there are three USB ports and if you are technically minded this probably means something to you! The laptop offers an optical DVD+/RW drive, which will enable you to watch your favourite films wherever you may be and the picture quality is simply superb. It will also allow you to burn your favourite music to disk. There are a few other features, which I have copied directly from the specifications contained on the box, as whilst I do not believe in copying text into reviews I feel this is important and assists the consumer with making a decision on whether or not to purchase:-
Fire Wire - No, Modem/Ethernet - Integrated 10/100BASE-T Ethernat LAN, Video Interface - VGA, TV Output - VGA and no extension card slot. Whilst the laptop is preloaded with Microsoft Office 2010 software we are only provided with sample versions of both Word and Excel. These are two packages that I use considerably on my desktop computer, but I was not prepared to fork out additional money for them to be installed on my laptop. We are provided with Norton Online Backup, back unfortunately, this is only a 30-day trial; after which I received several messages requested me to buy the full programme. There is a multitude of games; some of which I have played although many of the games installed on computers and mobile phones these days are only trial versions; after which we are prompted to fork out more money for the full version.
This particular model offers us Microsoft, Window Explorer, Live Messenger, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flashplayer, HP Setup, HP Advisor, HP Support Assistant, Omnifone Music Station, Cyberlink DVD Suite, Cyberlink Power DVD and Cyberlink YouCam, Windows Live Applications.
I am absolutely thrilled with my purchase and not once has my laptop failed to deliver despite me using it on a daily basis. I only wished I had purchased one sooner, as it is well suited to my needs and at last I am not confined to the small bedroom all on my own! I cannot recommend this laptop highly enough and as a result, it comes with my full recommendation together with 5 stars.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
I purchased my laptop from Currys and as usual I had the really pushy sales assistance attempting to sell me an extended warranty, which I politely declined. To provide you with some current prices I have checked online and at the time of writing (9 March 2011) I obtained the following prices:-
PC World - £376.85 (brand new)
Price Runner - £376.85 (brand new)
Currys - £376.85 (brand new)
Dixons - £298.99 (reconditioned)
The laptop is packaged well in a fairly large and very sturdy box, but unfortunately, does not provide the usual sturdy plastic carrying handle, so as I purchased mine from Curry's, which is situated in the centre of Cardiff I had quite a walk back to the car. Had I known about the awkward box I would have made my purchase in one of Curry's larger stores, which offer onsite parking.
I hope you found my review useful and would thank you for reading.
This review will appear on both Dooyoo and Ciao under the same user name.