Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
The HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx is one of those laptops that looks like it should be exceptional, but turns out to be fairly average. A 15.6-inch thin-and-light, the 3055dx has an attractive design, a large keyboard, built-in Webcam, and multitouch touch pad, and is powered by a top-end AMD quad-core processor and 6GB of memory. Plus, it has a whopping 640GB hard drive.
Regrettably, the package somewhat falls apart in use. The component combo, for example, performs on or below the level of Intel Core i3-based systems paired with 4GB of memory. Also, the price you pay for such a large hard drive is a 5,400rpm rotational speed, which adds to its slow performance. It is stylish and modern-looking, but some of the features, like the extra touch-pad functions, make it feel less polished and, in turn, less enjoyable to use. Its battery life is a little short for its class, too. That said, there's nothing overwhelmingly wrong with dv6-3055dx, just that its issues make it a laptop we'd just like using instead of one we'd love.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$829.99|
|Processor||2GHz AMD Phenom II N930|
|Memory||6GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||640GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||14.9 x 9.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.5/6.3 pounds|
The HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx is an interesting-looking notebook. To help it stand out on a shelf of generic laptops, HP used a warm-silver brushed-aluminum for the lid, sides, and keyboard and touch-pad surround. There's also a streaming-line design that runs across the lid and continues inside. It gives the system a higher-end look, though the thick matte-black case bottom detracts from that somewhat, as it's the same thing you'll find on most budget and mainstream laptops. At more than 6 pounds with its power adapter, the 3055dx may be too much for some to carry around all day. On the other hand, its compact chassis (especially for its screen size) and rounded corners make it easy to slide in and out of a case.
HP used an island-style keyboard (also known as a Chiclet-style keyboard), which feels nice and open with a lot of room between the little squared keys. It's a comfortable keyboard, but we wish the keys were just slightly thicker so they didn't fall flush with the body. Instead of a separate set of media controls, commands such as play/pause, fast forward/rewind, and volume are mapped to the function keys. (If you'd like to return those keys to their regular use, you can switch the setting in the BIOS.) Similarly, the far left of the keyboard has quick-launch buttons for Windows Live Mail e-mail; HP's MediaSmart interface for accessing movies, music, and photos on the computer and online; Internet Explorer; printing; and a calculator. However, their positions can lead to accidental presses, particularly the print and calculator buttons. There's also no immediately visible way to set the e-mail and Web browser buttons to launch other choices, such as Outlook or Firefox.
As for the touch pad, it's large and the matte-black finish is far better than the chrome finish on past Pavilions. The reason it's so big, though, is that instead of having separate left and right buttons, HP used the whole pad as a button, sectioning off two click zones in the lower-left and -right corners. Powered by Synaptics software, you can configure several multitouch gestures, although they don't always work smoothly. We also found the cursor response to be a bit jumpy at times even when we had all but the two click zones activated. If you rest your thumb on the left click zone, the pad seems to read it as though you're trying to do a multitouch gesture, making for an altogether frustrating experience. Simply disabling all multitouch functions solves this, but kills the point of having the functionality in the first place.
To the right of the touch pad is a fingerprint scanner, something typically reserved for business laptops. Though it's primarily for security, it can be used for storing passwords for Web sites and software as well as launching applications. The 3055dx is equipped with HP's ProtectSmart accelerometer, too, that locks the hard drive if the laptop is dropped, preventing data loss.
The 15.6-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. The display gets sufficiently bright; movies look good on it; and text and icons are highly readable. Like most laptop displays, it has a sweet spot for the best color and contrast; off-angle viewing is mediocre. Despite the laptop having Dolby Advanced Audio processing the front-firing Altec Lansing-branded stereo speakers sound thin and far from immersive. They're fine for casual listening at reasonable volumes, but if you intend to use this as an entertainment system, you'll want to grab a set of external speakers. Lastly, located above the screen is a Webcam and microphone, which worked well in our Skype video tests.
When you start up the 3055dx, instead of going straight into Windows 7, you'll hit HP's secondary operating system called QuickWeb, powered by Splashtop. It's a preboot environment that gives you a small suite of applications, like a Web browser, e-mail, and Skype, as well as access to music and photos stored on the computer. The idea is that if you just want to check your e-mail, visit a favorite site, or listen to a song, you can do that here instead of waiting for Windows to boot. The experience isn't great, though, and we quickly shut it off.