Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 Retail laptop and desktop back-to-school roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.
You may occasionally find one marked down to $499 or so, but otherwise $529 is your barrier to entry for a modern dual-core laptop. The HP G62-225DX carries that price, as does the Asus K501J-BBZ5 and the Dell Inspiron iM501R-1212PBL. If you find these three models next to each other on a retail store shelf, of the three, we'd steer you toward the Asus K501J. Like the Asus K501J, the HP G62-225DX features the Intel Pentium T4500, a dual-core chip clocked at 2.3GHz. It provides ample performance for home users, though the Asus K501J serves up an extra gigabyte of memory.
We like the new design of the HP G62-225DX--it looks great and the keyboard is exceedingly comfortable--but a seemingly small annoyance like an overly stiff mouse button can begin to grate on you over time. Also annoying: the lack of multitouch support on the touch pad. Lastly, poor battery life further erodes the HP G62-225DX's appeal; the G62 finished last among eight retail laptops in its price range.
In the end, we'd caution you against being lured in by the HP G62-225DX's good looks when other laptops provide better battery life and a less challenging mousing-and-clicking experience. The Asus K501J-BCN5 does both of those things, but it lacks an HDMI port. The Dell Inspiron iM501R-1212PBL also delivers better battery life and a superior mousing experience to the HP G62-225DX--and it features an HDMI port--but it uses an AMD processor and is the slowest performer of the three.
|Processor||2.3GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T4500|
|Memory||3GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz|
|Hard drive||320GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500MHD|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||14.7. x 9.7 x 1.4 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.5 / 6.3 pounds|
We like the look of the HP G62-225DX, which features the company's new mainstream laptop design. Replacing the glossy surfaces and chrome accents of the HP laptops of yore is a textured plastic chassis with a matte finish. The texture features a pattern of small diamonds or triangles, which stretches across the lid and keyboard deck. The lid and deck are a pewter silver color, and the keyboard and screen bezel are black, offering a pleasing contrast. Its appearance is simple and attractive.
The keyboard is exceedingly comfortable, with wide, flat keys that feel solid and sound nearly silent when pounding out e-mails or laptop reviews. Unlike many 15.6-inch laptops, including the Asus K501J and the Dell iM501R, the HP G62 does not feature a dedicated number pad. Though some users may bemoan its absence, we think the majority of budget buyers won't miss it, because without a number pad the keyboard is perfectly centered below the screen and no keys are shortened.
There is room for a column of shortcut keys along the left side of the keyboard, which offer one-button access to Windows Live Mail, CyberLink PowerDVD 9, your default browser, a print window, and a calculator. It will take some getting used to, however, before you're not hitting the print key instead of Shift, the calculator key instead of the Alt key, or caps lock instead of the "a" key. The laptop does not have a row of multimedia shortcut keys above the keyboard. Instead HP smartly reverse-maps the Function keys so that you don't need to hit the Fn key in order to access their secondary functions, such as adjust volume or screen brightness, or play, stop, fast forward, and rewind a track.
We are happy to see that HP finally retired the chrome-finish touch pad it had been using for the past few generations of mainstream laptop models (its glossy surface always created drag against your mousing finger). In its place is a touch pad with a matte finish, resulting in an improved mousing experience. In fact, the textured design of the keyboard deck runs uninterrupted across the touch pad. We're not normally fans of borderless touch pads, but the touch pad here is big enough that your finger doesn't wander off. We were disappointed, however, to discover that the touch pad does not support multitouch gestures. It's an increasingly common feature and is found on both the Asus K501J and the Dell iM501R.
In the upper-left corner of the touch pad is a small LED, which offers an easy way to disable the touch pad. Double tap the corner and the LED glows orange, alerting you that the touch pad is disabled. Double tap again and the LED turns off, indicating the touch pad is back in action.
Below the touch pad is a single, rocker-bar mouse button. We prefer two separate mouse buttons, particularly when the single button is as stiff and hard to press and keep depressed as the HP G62's. Keeping the button engaged while you drag and drop a file is especially challenging. In the course of writing this review, we gave up and got an external mouse because of the effort required to engage the mouse button. Considering this is the part of the notebook that users interact directly with the most, it's hard to fathom why HP didn't put more thought and effort into designing a better mouse button.
The 15.6-inch display features a 1,366x768-pixel resolution and is LED backlit. Movies look better than they sound. Images are crisp and vivid, but the laptop's audio leaves something to be desired. The Altec Lansing speakers sit above the keyboard, behind a thin speaker grill that runs the width of the keyboard. We were not impressed with their tinny, weak output (and we never hold high expectations for a pair of integrated laptop speakers to begin with).
A low-grade 0.3-megapixel Webcam sits above the display and uses Cyberlink's YouCam software for acceptable, but not fantastic, images.
|HP G62-225DX||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/ microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, multi-format media card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Connectivity and expansion on the HP G62-225DX is decidedly average. You get three USB 2.0 ports and a media card reader, but no ExpressCard slot. HDMI is onboard, but eSATA is not. Networking comes by way of 802.11n Wi-Fi and 100/100 Ethernet.
The HP G62-225DX features the Intel Pentium T4500 processor, a dual-core chip clocked at 2.3GHz, making it an entry-level dual-core processor that is a rung below Intel's venerable Core 2 Duo line and a couple rungs below the current Core i3 and i5 series.
Budget buyers will find that it delivers enough muscle for general use, including everyday multitasking scenarios. It was 10 percent slower than the Pentium T4500-based Asus K501J-BBZ5 on CNET Labs' multitasking benchmark, thanks in large part to it offering 3GB of memory to the Asus's 4GB. The HP G62 does feature faster memory, 800MHz to 667MHz. On the more processor-intensive Photoshop and iTunes tests, it turned in a better showing, actually edging the Asus K501J-BBZ5 on iTunes by a slim 3 percent. The Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050, which uses a higher-end Core i3 processor, tops the charts but costs $150 more at $679.