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HP Envy 6 Ultrabook review: HP Envy 6 Ultrabook

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The Good Sleek design; fair performance for the price; comfortable keyboard.

The Bad disappointing low-resolution screen.

The Bottom Line The HP Envy 6 Ultrabook uses the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processor to offer decent power from its slim, sleek shell. Sadly, it's let down by a poor screen.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.5 Overall

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HP has been excitedly showing off a host of new laptops and ultrabooks of late, including the Spectre XT and the Sleekbook. This time it's the turn of the Envy 6 ultrabook -- a slim and sleek 15-inch machine that packs the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processor.

Its little brother -- the 14-inch Envy 4 -- failed to impress when I reviewed it in July. But with more powerful components on board and costing only an extra £50, the 15.6-inch Envy 6 might stand a better chance of winning favour.

It's on sale now from HP's online store for £700

Design and build

Quickly glancing at the Envy 6, you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for HP's Envy 4 -- that's because from the outside, they're virtually identical. The only difference is the Envy 6 is a little bigger. The machine has a width of 374mm and a depth of 253mm, so although it's called an ultrabook, it's not as bag-friendly as the 11 and 13-inch ultrabooks on the market.

HP Envy 6 Ultrabook closed
At 15.6 inches, it's not as compact as other ultrabooks out there.

Standing 20mm high, it's relatively slim though, and you should have no problems sliding it into a stylish, skinny case. It weighs just over 2kg so I doubt you'd struggle to carry it around for long.

The sleek black and red design was my favourite thing about the Envy 4 so I'm glad HP hasn't changed anything here. It keeps the same black, brushed metal lid which isn't particularly adventurous, but the minimalist approach is rather stylish and attractive. Like the Envy 4, the whole underside and the edges have a bright red, rubberised coating that adds an extra element of interest to the overall look.

Both the metal lid and the rubberised underside feel very firm and didn't offer much flex, nasty creaking or clicking when I pressed down on them. I'm confident the Envy 6 could survive a few knocks and bumps on the road.

Around the edges you'll find one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 sockets, HDMI-out, an Ethernet port, an SD card slot and headphone and microphone jacks.

HP Envy 6 Ultrabook left ports
You'll find the usual gubbins down the side, including an SD card slot and an HDMI-out.

Keyboard and trackpad

As is the case with the chassis, the keyboard and trackpad's design mimics the Envy 4. For the keyboard, that's no bad thing. Its minimal design and simple lettering matches the aesthetic of the laptop and the large, isolated keys are very easy to press, making it possible to type at speed.

The trackpad also looks the same. Oddly, HP calls it an Imagepad, whatever that means. Thankfully, it feels better to use on the Envy 6 than on the Envy 4. Not only does it seem more responsive, it's much easier to left and right-click, which makes speedy web browsing a whole heap more comfortable.

It's surrounded by the same brushed metal that you'll find on the lid, which is again pleasingly free of flex. Nor is there any give to the keyboard tray, which is particularly good to know if you're a heavy-handed typist.

HP Envy 6 Ultrabook trackpad and keyboard
Despite the similarities in build, the trackpad actually feels better to use than the one on the Envy 4.

Screen

HP may have made the touchpad a little more pleasant on the Envy 6 but the same cannot be said of the screen. It offers a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, which is frankly very disappointing. That's the minimum I've come to expect from smaller laptops -- the 14-inch Envy 4 has the same resolution -- so I'm not happy that HP hasn't opted for at least a 1,600x900-pixel display on this model.

The low resolution means small icons appear fuzzy -- it's particularly noticeable on the Windows Start menu icon -- as they're effectively stretched to fit the bigger screen, much like the reduction in quality you'll experience when enlarging a low-quality JPEG file.

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