I've had many laptops throughout the years, and much prefer them to desktops. You're not restricted to using them in one place, can carry them around and take them away outside of the house. Although I've never had much luck with them. The Samsung laptop kept breaking down, and was eventually replaced by PC World after being supposedly fixed several times by Samsung. /the Packard Bell one was also fraught with problems. The keys kept falling off my Sony Vaio, and ended up with a problem overheating. My last one was a Toshiba which wasn't too bad apart from getting too hot on the odd occasion.
Being something I use every day (I run two websites), it's essential I have a good quality laptop that is capable of doing what I want it to without running at the speed of a snail. My Toshiba was two years old, and was getting a bit slow, so I decided it was time to get a new one. My previous experiences had left me with few options to choose from. My husband has had a HP laptop for five years and hasn't had any problems with it (apart from the kids pulling two keys off and wrecking the CD drive but that's his fault for letting them play with it!) So I figured that HP was a good make to choose.
Now it was just a matter of choosing from the many versions available. I spent around a week researching online, and also had a quick look at PC World to see what they had on offer. The number of different processors available these days is mind boggling! I finally managed to get my head around it - sort of - and worked out that quad core was better than dual core (obvious, I know!), and the AMD Phenom was an ok processor to get.
In the end I opted for this HP Pavilion DV6-3141ea from www.saveonlaptops.co.uk. The number of different model numbers they have for one brand of laptop is even more mind boggling than the processors! It was £479.99, down from an RRP of £799.97, which I thought was quite a bargain. Apart from the price, the main thing that attracted me to this model was the 6GB RAM. I wasn't too bothered about a huge hard drive, and 500GB was enough for my needs.
The laptop arrived within a couple of days, but I didn't get to set it up and play with it for a few more days due to other things going on. Once out of the box I first noticed how much thinner it was than my old Toshiba, and a bit lighter in weight too, at 2.5kg.
The casing is nice and shiny and looks like brushed aluminium, with an abstract wave design etched into the top of the casing and also along the front inside where the touchpad is.
At first boot up you go through the usual registration and set up options which takes a few minutes. It's running Windows 7, which is all new to me as I've not used beyond Windows XP, so it's taken a while to get used to that.
I've still not explored all of the software that was pre-installed. Looking through the start up menu, it includes Cyberlink DVD Suite, LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling, Microsoft Silverlight, and a host of games. Despite there appearing to be a lot of games installed, many of them are only trial versions and require purchase to keep running them. Microsoft Office Home and Business is installed, but it's just the trial version which lasts for 60 days. I think, but not 100% sure, that it's the full version of Word 2010. I guess I'll find out when the 60 days are up.
I've filled around half of the 500GB hard drive so far with my own software and photo/music collection, on top of what was already installed.
I nearly always have several programmes (some memory hungry) running at the same time and so far haven't encountered any speed problems. In fact everything is loading up and running much quicker than my old laptop.
The HP Solution Centre that's installed is there to help with any problems or issues that may be going on (with your laptop, sadly it can't help with any personal problems you have!) I've just opened it now and it's telling me that my printer isn't connected, which I knew anyway as it's in the other room.
One thing to note is there are no hard copy DVDs/CDs provided. You're expected to create your own recovery discs, which no doubt I'll never get round to doing and probably end up regretting!
The touchpad is in the usual position, front centre, and is much larger than I've had on previous laptops. It's very sensitive and rather than having separate left and right click buttons, they're built in as part of the touchpad. So moving your finger over the buttons moves the cursor, but you can still click the buttons. This has caused me a few problems when I've been trying to right click on a piece of text the cursor has moved off the text while I'm trying to click.
There's a fingerprint reader to the right of the touchpad. You can register your fingerprint so that when you switch on the laptop it will only come on if your fingerprint matches the one stored, which is an excellent security feature. However, it's not one I'll use as I worry what would happen if anything happened to my fingers and the laptop wouldn't let me in!!!
The keyboard is standard, and does not have a separate number keypad on the right like some laptops do now. The keys are flat and slightly raised from the base, but with a gap in between each, I'd say around 3 or 4mm gap. I'm not keen on the spacing as I've been used to typing fast on keyboards with keys closer together. Paired with the fact that you have to hit the keys quite hard to register means that when I'm typing fast I very often miss letters out and have to go back and type again which is a real pain.
Down the left side of the keyboard below the "esc" key are 5 other keys - one that starts your mail programme, one that starts the HP media bar (links to uploading photos, watching movies, etc), one that starts your default internet browser, one to print, and a calculator button. This is very handy having these shortcuts rather than having to click onscreen or go through menus.
Volume is controlled by buttons which are the same as F9, F10 and F11. I much prefer this to a volume wheel which can get mistakenly knocked. In fact all of the F keys have dual functions, for brightness, help, and video player controls.
The screen is 15.6", HP Brightscreen, LED backlit, and is a great quality picture, nice and bright, and easy to see, even in bright daylight.
There's a built in webcam above the screen but I haven't had chance to test it out yet. Skype was ready installed, so if you did want to have a webcam with someone you'd be all set to go after registering your account.
There are many different holes in the sides of the laptop, some of which I don't know what are for. I'll list the specs below rather than waffling on about HDMI ports when I've no idea what they are. One thing I do know about is USB ports, of which there are four. Rather than being all in one place, they've helpfully placed them in different locations, with two on either side. This is very good when you've got multiple USB devices to plug in, which may be placed in different locations on different sides of your laptop.
I don't have time to play games so the graphics card isn't of much interest and the spec for it just reads as gobbledeegook to me,
The CD drawer / DVD rewriter is on the right side, and is a bit fiddly to open. You really have to press your finger hard against the button to get it to open.
The laptop is really quiet running and you can barely hear the fan operating. It doesn't get very hot either which is a welcome change.
It states the battery life as 2-3 hours. Although I've not run it on battery for that long it does sound about right as the longest I've been on battery is around 1 hour and it used just over a third of the battery.
Overall I'm pleased with the laptop, my only real bugbear being the key spacing. I'm hoping this HP will restore my faith in laptops and be good to me for the next few years. I'll be reporting back here if not!
Processor - AMD Phenom II Quad-Core N930 (2.0 GHz, 2 MB L2 cache)
Screen - 15.6" (HP BrightView, LED Backlit, 1366 x 768 HD 16:9 Screen)
Operating System - Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit
RAM - 6GB (DDR3)
Hard Drive - 500GB (7200 RPM)
Optical Drive - DVD Rewriter (Records DVDs 8x & CDs 24x & Dual Layer Super Multi)
Graphics - Dedicated (ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 with 512MB Dedicated DDR3 RAM)
Wireless LAN - Wireless (802.11b/g/n Wireless)
Network Card - 10/100/1000 Gigabit Fast Ethernet
Integrated Webcam - Integrated Webcam with Microphone
Card Reader - 5-in-1 card reader (SD//MS/MS-Pro/MMC/xD-Picture cardTM)
USB Ports - 4x USB 2.0 Ports
Bluetooth - Version 2.0
Speakers - Integrated Stereo Speakers
VGA Port - 1 External VGA Port
Kensington Lock - Kensington lock slot
Charge Time - 2.5 Hours
HDMI - 1x HDMI Port
E-sata - 1x eSATA Port
Warranty - HP Pavilion 12 Month Warranty
Battery Life - 2-3 Hours (up to 3 hours with power management)
Weight - 2-3 Kg (This Model 2.5 Kg)
Finger Print Reader - Finger Print Reader