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It's always the end of the world when my laptop decides to die as I work from home and rely solely on a reliable laptop and internet connection to make a living (well also some electricity). Having been very happy with a refurbished laptop in the past I decided to save a little money and go for the HP Pavilion G6-1189SA Refurbished 15.6'' Laptop in Sonoma Red for £333.98 including postage with its 1 year warranty from PCWorld.
Set up with refurbished laptops is pretty quick as there are no disks - everything is pre-installed so just has to set up. Unlike my previous laptop, HP hasn't asked for backup disks to be created. This was my first experience with Windows 7 but the transition from Vista was easy. Almost all of my software installed easily except the adapter for the internet but luckily with wifi it wasn't required.
I don't have too many complaints about the layout of the keyboard. It's actually one of the better ones I've used with each key spaced out well and even after over 7 months of daily use the keys are losing their matte look but letters still in tact. Being black though the keys can become hard to see in low light - the screen just doesn't light them well although technically you shouldn't really be using a laptop in these conditions or it does strain your eyes. There have only been a couple of times that I've accidently changed the screen brightness and the keys do have a slightly different layout to my previous laptop with the function buttons but it didn't take long to get used to. One thing I don't like about the keyboard is the arrow keys. Left and right are full size keys but up and down are two halves so they're just not very user friendly.
Another complaint I have is with the mouse pad. I've lost count of the number of times it's zoomed in on a page or locked the mouse pad. I still can't really figure out what makes it zoom in (I think overlapping the left mouse button onto the mouse pad when moving the mouse does it) but double pressing on the small circle in the top left of the pad will lock it although it doesn't seem to be restricted to that area. The mouse buttons are quite close to the edge of the laptop and they would have benefitted from being a little larger because the tip of my finger will touch the mouse pad and move the mouse or end up moving the page when I'm trying to move the mouse at the same time. It's not a huge problem but can be inconvenient. The mouse pad is in red but through wear and tear I can see a small section of black starting to show through.
This laptop certainly isn't designed for gaming. When I was a bit obsessed with Angry Birds on Facebook I found the laptop would heat up rapidly and the fan would be on full power until a few minutes after the window was closed. It was loud (although not overly so) but the base of the laptop always had me worried it was becoming too hot. I always have my laptop sitting on a large book, tray or table so there's good ventilation for the fans but any game will quickly have the fans running. On a plus point the laptop is actually quite fast with a 2.4GHz dual core Intel CoreTM processor i3-370M so any software I am running is quite responsive and I can multitask easily.
I often use my laptop to watch DVDs and although the fan causes a lot of noise while playing games, it doesn't affect DVDs much. The fans will power up a few times but there's not such a sharp rise in temperature so it makes watching films a lot better. Every year I also create DVDs for my niece and nephew and although I only use Windows Movie Maker which comes pre-installed it's still easy to use with good results and it will write CDs and DVDs easily.
Advertised as a 750GB hard drive, the space available to me was 684GB. This is a bit of a drop but I still have a massive 616GB free even though I have a lot of Word documents, photos, videos and music stored on my laptop so it certainly has more than enough space for what I require and a decent 4GB RAM. I just never learn my lesson to back up my documents but thankfully I've had no problems so far.
I love the size of the LED screen. At 15.6" it's large and with the Intel HD graphics card is very clear. I'm not as keen on the covering for it though as it does cause a lot of glare and makes it a little hard to use on very sunny days with the reflections on it. Above the screen is the integrated HP webcam. Being 1.3MP it's not that impressive although generally most laptops around this price had either 0.3MP or 1.3MP. It's poor in low light, will adjust the brightness itself and it is a bonus it doesn't switch to a Shrek yellow/green and continually need to adjust the white balance. I don't use mine that often - mainly for taking pictures on Dailybooth but it is far better in natural light.
This laptop includes 3 x USB 2.0 ports - one beside the power outlet and two on the other side of the laptop which I prefer to having ports at the back of the laptop. There's a card reader so I can take the SD Card out of my camera rather than having to connect the camera to the laptop. On the front of the laptop are the speakers which can become muffled if resting the laptop against clothing but still provides decent sound. If I'm watching a DVD I usually end up putting ear phones in just to enhance the sound a bit.
Only recently I've found the battery life has started to decrease quite rapidly when not plugged in. I used to get about 5 hours out of it with screen on full brightness etc but now it's down to about 30 minutes which is pretty poor considering it should be getting around 7 hours although this really isn't an issue for me as I'm always near a plug. I think I will end up having to buy a spare battery just in case it is required. I wouldn't really recommend this laptop if it will be used on the go because being large it does carry a lot of weight with it too.
When buying a refurbished laptop it's worth checking the warranty. As this is an HP laptop it popped up a couple of months after buying to tell me when the warranty would run out as the warranty begins from the time it's sold to PCWorld rather than when the consumer bought it. HP don't make it easy to find this but if you can chat to one of their advisers online (rather than paying to phone or emailing them) they'll link you to a form so you just enter details of when it was bought etc and it will update itself so you get the full year. I tried asking on Twitter but didn't get a reply and after trying to contact HP by email they said they couldn't help me because I lived in Turkey?! Luckily the online adviser knew what I was on about.
Although I do have a few niggles about the laptop it's definitely worth the money. I can live with the occasional screen zoom, locking mouse pad, don't really play games often enough these days to get annoyed by the fan. It has plenty of hard drive space and it's fast and allows me to multitask. The depleting battery life is probably the most disappointing part of the laptop but it has been very reliable for work and leisure time considering it can be used constantly for 16 hours a day. I wasn't really bothered about the colour although it does look nice in red. There are a couple of scuffs on the lid but other than the mouse pad wear it's just a bit dusty. This second refurbished laptop from PCWorld has given me a lot of faith in buying refurbished considering its specs for the price. It doesn't do anything fancy but I don't need it to so I will definitely consider another from HP in the future.
Written for the Olympic relay - team Golden Girls