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Apple MacBook Air (13-inch)
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (2013, 15-inch screen)stars
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Asus Transformer Book T100
Nudging in at just under AU$1000, HP's newest dv6 is quite decent, considering the price point. If you're willing to spend more, it's also available in a swathe of different configurations that offer more storage or power.
The deep-bronze brushed aluminium and subtle curves work well, with the Pavilion looking more like a premium laptop than an entry-level one. This perception is enhanced by the light around the track pad, although sadly the keyboard doesn't light up.
As tends to be the way with budget notebooks, despite the 15.6-inch screen, we're given a rather low 1366x768 resolution to work with. The glossy screen is acceptable, but it doesn't blow us away with vibrancy.
AU$1000 gets you quite a bit of bang for buck these days, with the Pavilion dv6 including a Core i5 2450M at 2.5GHz, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. Graphics are handled by AMD's Radeon HD 7690M XT, and we're happy to report that the battery-saving switch back to Intel graphics is now seamless. It's a good feeling to be able to recommend AMD mobile graphics once more.
Four USB 2.0 ports are offered, along with dual headphone jacks, a microphone jack, gigabit Ethernet, VGA and HDMI out and a DVD+-RW drive. Despite the opportunity afforded by having three 3.5mm jacks available, HP does not allow the user to repurpose them for 5.1-channel sound. It has managed to stake the Beats Audio brand on the laptop, though, but with speakers this small and cheap, there's only so much that the software can do — we'd recommend you stick to headphones for anything more than basic system sounds.