The highly customizable HP Compaq Presario V6000T can be configured as anything from a Celeron-based $449 bargain-basement system to a nearly $2,000 Media Center. Our review unit costs $1,219 and offers decent specs, including an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and a glossy display. Despite the very nice fit and finish of the V6000T, the system is almost heavy enough to be a desktop replacement, making it impractical for daily travel. If you're choosy about components and don't mind the weight, the V6000T is a worthwhile choice, otherwise the Sony VAIO C150P is a lighter, but less configurable, alternative.
The HP Compaq Presario V6000T is a well-designed, attractive laptop. Our review unit came with an option HP calls its Imprint Finish. This covers the lid and the keyboard tray with a subtle design of tiny white lines against a gray background and a glossy, somewhat smudge-prone, topcoat. Fingerprints aside, it's a very nice effect and helps the system stand out from the crowd. This $38 option also includes a mic built into the lid above the screen.
Measuring 14 inches wide, 10.25 inches deep, and just shy of 1.25 inches thick (not counting the gigantic 12-cell battery) and weighing in at 6.7 pounds (7.6 pounds with the AC adapter), the Presario V6000T is portable enough for occasional travel but is too large and heavy for a daily commute. Cutting back to the smaller 6-cell battery will make this easier on the shoulders, at the expense of battery life.
The keyboard has large keys that are comfortable enough to type on for extended period. The four corner keys--Esc, left Ctrl, Delete, and the right arrow key--have rounded corners, giving the entire keyboard a nice design sensibility. The touch pad and the mouse buttons are sizable, but the glossy touch pad feels a bit strange--too slippery. Still, we always like it when a touch pad has vertical and horizontal scrolling functionality, and we approve of the touch-pad on/off button, useful when working with an external mouse. Other handy controls include a touch-sensitive volume bar, a mute button, and a launch button for HP's QuickPlay software--all located above the keyboard.
QuickPlay is a Media-Center-like app that lets you play DVDs, CDs, and music and video files without booting into Windows--a nice feature for extending battery life and getting to your media files quickly. You can use the small, credit-card-style remote control that sits in the ExpressCard slot with QuickPlay.
The HP Compaq Presario V6000T has a standard set of ports, including three USB 2.0 jacks, a mini FireWire connection, headphone and mic jacks, modem and Ethernet ports and an ExpressCard slot. There's also a VGA output and a connection for HP's proprietary docking stations. Wireless networking comes from an Intel Pro Wireless 802.11a/b/g connection, and Bluetooth is an available option for an extra $10.
The 15.4-inch wide-screen display has a native resolution of 1,280x800--exactly what we'd expect from a mainstream laptop this size. The screen has HP's BrightView coating, a $25 option that gives the LCD a glossy finish. It adds brightness and contrast to images and movies, but some people find it distracting when working with office documents or in bright settings where screen glare can be a problem. The Altec Lansing stereo speakers, located above the keyboard, deliver audio that's of decent quality, though, as expected, lacking in the low end.
This system's 2GB of RAM and 100GB hard drive are adequate for a laptop in this price range. You can cut the RAM down to 1GB or even 512MB, but we wouldn't recommend doing so. For an extra $100, you can double the hard drive space to 200GB. The optical drive is a standard-issue DVD burner, but for $25, you can upgrade that to a LightScribe drive, which will burn grayscale art and text onto specially coated discs. It can actually produce very professional-looking results, but it requires good design skills--or at least a premade template--and fairly expensive media: $10 for a pack of five DVDs.
While you can take the V6000T's CPU all the way down to a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron M 420, our test system had a 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600. For an extra $75, you can move all the way up to a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, but based on the V6000T's excellent performance, you're unlikely to need that extra power. In CNET Labs' Multitasking test, the V6000T easily outperformed a system with an identical CPU, the Gateway M255-E. The same was true in our Photoshop CS2 test. In those two tests, the HP Compaq Presario V6000T also outperformed two systems with AMD processors running at the same 1.83GHz clock speed: the Acer Ferrari 1004WTMi and the iBuyPower Z92T. With all this performance, it's a shame the V6000T doesn't offer any discrete GPU options--only integrated Intel 950 graphics.
Battery life for the V6000T was excellent at 7 hours, 25 minutes, but we'd expect nothing less, since the system arrived with HP's 12-cell extended-life battery. This giant battery sticks out from the bottom of the system, propping the entire thing up like a laptop stand. The battery makes the back of the system sit nearly three inches from the surface and, besides adding significant weight to the system, makes it harder to fit into laptop cases and bags. Fortunately, HP offers a more reasonable 6-cell battery--choosing it will also save you $39.
HP backs the Presario V6000T with an industry-standard one-year warranty; however, for $199, you can extend the term to three years. HP will also cover the cost of returning the system for repairs throughout your warranty. The company's toll-free telephone-support lines are open 24/7 and offer free help during your warranty period. The HP support Web site includes real-time chat with a tech rep, and you can also troubleshoot problems by searching through the site's robust FAQ database.