The HP Pavilion dv6-3122sa is designed to be an all-rounder, equally capable of working and playing. Unlike most laptops that we see, it uses an AMD processor, rather than an Intel one.
This 15.6-inch machine is available from Laptops Direct and other vendors for around £535.
The dv6-3122sa uses a dual-core AMD Turion II P540 clocked at 2.4GHz. No doubt HP opted for this chip in an effort to keep the price down.
Despite the fact that the CPU is twinned with 4GB of RAM, it didn't score amazingly in the PCMark05 benchmark test. For example, while the dual-core 2.53GHz Intel Core i3-380M processor in the similarly priced Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T clocked up a score of 5,952, the dv6-3122sa's chip mustered 4,642.
Nevertheless, this score still shows the laptop is fast enough to handle most day-to-day tasks, like Web browsing and editing standard-definition videos. It's likely to struggle with more complex tasks, such as high-definition video editing, however.
Unlike many budget laptops, it's not too bad a performer when it comes to gaming. The laptop relies on an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics card. This put in a fairly decent performance in the 3DMark06 test, racking up a score of 4,642. As long as you keep the detail settings turned down a notch or two, you should be able to get half-decent performance out of newer 3D games.
The machine's battery life isn't bad by 15-inch laptop standards, either. In the Battery Eater Classic test, it managed to keep running for 1 hour and 36 minutes, which is above-average. This test hammers the processor, so, under real-world usage conditions, you're like to get much longer life from the battery.
No great beauty
The dv6-3122sa is neither ugly nor beautiful, but sits somewhere in between. The case looks and feels plasticky, especially the silver strip that runs around the edge, but HP has jazzed it up by adding a geometric pattern on the lid and sculpting the corners into a pleasing rounded shape. Nevertheless, the overall look and feel of the laptop couldn't be described as 'premium'.
This laptop's display has a glossy coating. Glossy displays can sometimes be very reflective, but the one HP has used here doesn't suffer too badly from this issue. The horizontal viewing angles are pretty good too, which is handy if you want to share a movie with a mate on a plane or train.
The vertical angle is quite tight, though, so you have to fiddle about with the screen to find the sweet spot where colours and contrast remain consistent across the display. Still, the screen is quite bright and, once you've found that sweet spot, colours look rich and vibrant.
The keyboard and trackpad are a mixed bag. The keyboard uses isolated keys, but they're on the small side and can prove rather sticky. Also, HP has added a row of quick-launch buttons down the left-hand side of the keyboard for accessing functions like the browser and calculator. But these would have been better placed at the top of the keyboard -- we found ourselves accidentally hitting the calendar key more than once, when we were actually trying to find the Ctrl key.
We also found the trackpad to be a pain. It uses an all-in-one design, with two buttons integrated into the main surface. But the trackpad feels rather plasticky and, when you press down on it to activate the buttons, the response is far from satisfying.
The dv6-3122sa offers four USB ports, one of which doubles up as an eSATA port. There are also VGA and HDMI video outputs, and you get a memory-card reader too. Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity are supported, but HP hasn't added Bluetooth into the mix.
Overall, the HP Pavilion dv6-3122sa is a decent-enough laptop, but it's difficult to get excited about. It does the job, but we weren't overly enamoured with either the keyboard or the overall design. There are plenty of other laptops out there that offer better performance and build quality at a similar price.
Edited by Charles Kloet