Big midrange laptops are like standard-size cars: most of the time, they're just not going to be very exciting. The HP Pavilion dv6t-6000 falls right into this category like a square peg into its inevitable hole. This 15.6-incher is a highly configurable model at the heart of HP's mainstream laptop line, much like the Dell Inspiron 15R.
The Pavilion dv6t is considered a "high-performance" laptop on HP's Web site, but its configurations throttle more into the mainstream: a processor ranging from second-gen Core i3 up to dual-core Core i7; midrange AMD graphics options; and an optional 1080p display and Blu-ray. The most high-end elements of the dv6t are its trimmings: a built-in fingerprint reader that can launch apps and Web pages; a Beats audio-powered above/below-keyboard speaker array; USB 3.0; and an HD Webcam.
The dv6t starts at a reasonable $599 for a second-gen Core i3 CPU, Intel integrated graphics, and a 500GB hard drive. Our $849 version had a 2.3GHz Core i5-2410M CPU, 1GB AMD Radeon 6490M graphics, a 640GB hard drive, and 6GB of RAM.
Though that may sound like a good package to some, this bulky laptop still lacked some high-end media laptop features at our $849 price, and it wasn't excellent for playing games. If you're interested in spending more to add better AMD graphics, 1080p resolution, and Blu-ray, the dv6t can become the dream machine you're looking for, but at a higher price. Some might consider picking up the low-end config along with its more upscale bell-and-whistle trimmings, making the dv6t a more sensible buy.
In our reviewed configuration, it felt neither here nor there, and was certainly a far larger laptop than we'd ever prefer to travel with. Frankly, for $850, we expected a little more. Compared with the last HP dv6 model we reviewed, the new dv6t has certainly changed for the better, sometimes in dramatic ways. Still, the opening-line opinion we held then doesn't change much now: it looks like one of those laptops that should be exceptional, but turns out to be fairly average.
|Price as reviewed / starting price||$849 / $599|
|Processor||2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M|
|Memory||6GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||640GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon HD 6490M + Intel HD 3000|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||14.9x9.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.7 pounds / 6.8 pounds|
One compliment we can bestow on the HP Pavilion dv6t is that its redesign gives it an extremely pleasant cosmetic appearance. Brushed-metal exteriors and interiors are smoothly curved and bronzed to an umber hue. A "steel gray" option costs an extra $25, but we can't see why anyone would want it; the umber looks classy. An edge-to-edge keyboard/number pad and large touch pad fill space well, and the screen fills the upper lid with minimal extra bezel space. Proportionally, everything looks right. An upper speaker bar complementing a second set of speakers set below the keyboard deck looks crisp and is angled out for better sound conveyance. It's a big change from the old HP Pavilion dv6, and a look that's very close to the higher-end HP Envy.
Yet, this laptop's clean lines hide its bulk. And yes, that bulk is considerable. At about 1.3 inches thick and 5.7 pounds, this is hardly a svelte machine. Really, it feels like a deskbound device. Although we could fit one in a backpack, we couldn't see ourselves ever wanting to. However, considering its bulk, at least the lines on the dv6t are clean; it'll fit in your lap and won't poke you with any protrusions.
The aforementioned keyboard has island-type raised keys that are square-shaped and well-spaced. The number pad presses right up against it, creating a seamless flow between both, but it doesn't impinge on the directional keys on the bottom as we've seen on some laptops. Those directional keys are small, though: the up and down ones are compressed into a single key's footprint. While the keyboard responded well, it exhibited an awful lot of flex for an otherwise solidly built chassis. It's also not backlit, which is odd considering the size of the laptop. Controls assigned to function keys worked without the Fn button being pressed; that's common on many laptops now, but a surprising number still omit function-reversed keys. Other than a small power button on the upper left (perhaps a bit too small), there's also a tiny black button that launches your Web browser of choice.
The large multitouch Synaptics touch pad is bigger than many, but unlike recent HP touch pads, it returns to using discrete buttons beneath rather than "click zones." HP claims that this hasn't reduced the usable surface area of the touch pad--and indeed, it looks like the buttons below don't infringe on finger space. The matte surface collects grease and fingerprints, but it offers generally smooth responsiveness. An LED backlit border adds a sense of definition in dark rooms and a bit of restrained style.
Across the entire dv6t line, HP has added a fingerprint reader, marketed as SimplePass, and we think the idea's brilliant. You will, too, if you use HP's customizable software for the reader; all 10 fingers can be set up not only to log in, but to launch applications, Web sites, and even store Web site passwords. For multiple users looking to keep their Gmail accounts separate, for example, it's a very smart solution. We'd love to see the idea creep into other laptops, too, or even tablets and phones. It's a far easier way to remember passwords.
The 15.6-inch 1,366x768-pixel LED backlit display is glossy and inset slightly from the rest of the plastic lid. Videos and applications looked clear and crisp, but the lower resolution on this size screen was noticeable; some videos looked more pixelated. That happens when viewing HD-resolution content on a larger, low-res screen up close. Upgrading to a 1080p display only costs $150, and if you care about extra screen real estate and full-HD video, it's worth the investment. If you stick with the included screen, however, it's definitely a solid display for a midrange laptop. Viewing angles break down at extreme screen tilt, but it's otherwise bright.
As far as audio's concerned, the Pavilion dv6t has gotten a little overhaul. The much-talked-about (mostly by HP) Beats Audio technology built into HP Envy laptops a few years ago has since spread across much of HP's laptop line. Its inclusion in the dv6t amounts to circuitry and software (for sound amplification and equalizing), not the speaker hardware. The speakers aren't bad; a top sound bar above the keyboard accompanies two stereo speakers situated under the laptop, toward the front and below the keyboard. There are quad speakers but no subwoofer. We pumped up movies, music, and some Beastie Boys music videos, and got output that was much better than average. However, it wasn't what we'd call spectacular. Laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and Toshiba's Harman Kardon-equipped Satellites had even better-sounding bass and treble clarity to our ears.
With headphones, the dv6t definitely sounded great, but it's hard to determine how much of that is attributable to Beats. So, we compared the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right" 2011 video off their "Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2" album on the HP Pavilion dv6t and on a Lenovo ThinkPad, with the same headphones (
An HD Webcam offers 720p video chat capabilities, a trend that's spreading across laptops. Dell's Inspiron lineup incorporated a similar update this year, too.
|HP Pavilion dv6t-6000||Average for category [Mainstream]|
|Video||HDMI, VGA||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Quad speakers w/ Beats audio, dual headphone jacks, microphone jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The dv6t's ports have gotten the obligatory 2011 refresh, adding two USB 3.0 ports to accompany two more USB 2.0 ports. The dv6t's extra headphone-out jack could be useful for couples watching movies on a couch or a plane, should that odd scenario ever arise. Nowadays, sadly, many tend to watch their movies on separate screens.
Configurations of the HP Pavilion dv6t cover a wide gamut of options. A $599 starting model offers a tempting collection of specs, including a second-gen 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M processor, 4GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics, and a 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive. Our configuration had a faster Core i5 CPU, more RAM, AMD graphics, and a larger hard drive, boosting the price to $849. It's easy to go far north of $1,000, too, as everything from CPUs (up to a dual-core Core i7), graphics (up to 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6770M), RAM (up to 16GB), hard drive (up to 1TB), screen (up to 1080p), and optical drive (up to Blu-ray) can be upgraded. This type of sliding-scale configurable laptop model concept is common with Dell laptops as well, making a product hard to recommend by individual configuration. Our recommendation would be to keep to the entry-level, or upgrade with prudence to a high-end machine. The middle ground, which is where our laptop lies, becomes a bit of a gray zone, since there are plenty of alternatives that offer equivalent or better value, most notably the Dell XPS 15.
The 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M CPU in our Pavilion dv6t is a processor we've seen in many mainstream laptops over the last six months. Its performance in the dv6t was, unsurprisingly, just like in the others we've seen: excellent. The Dell Inspiron 15R, Toshiba Satellite E305, and HP ProBook 6360b were among many to incorporate it. Multitasking and HD video streaming, or multiwindow Flash, all ran fine and with little difficulty. The left-side vents did tend to blow quite a bit of hot air, but some of that is adjustable in HP's CoolSense cooling and performance settings, which mainly amount to you deciding how hot or noisy you want your laptop.
Less impressive was the performance of the 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics, a $100 option on the dv6t. Unreal Tournament III achieved a passable 54.9 frames per second at 1,366x768-pixel resolution with graphics settings at medium, but that game is old, and we've seen better results from other laptops. Street Fighter IV, running at native resolution, ran at 20fps. That's pretty unplayable. Gamers should consider upgrading to the next and final level available on the dv6t, a 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6770M GPU for $200. We can't confirm its performance, but we certainly hope it's better than what we saw out of the 6490M. Even more frustrating, the AMD graphics were finicky and not "automatic" by any means; we were offered basic switching to Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics when using battery power, but that was it. Otherwise, the graphics ran universally "on" or "off."
|HP Pavilion dv6t-6000||Avg watts/hour|
|Raw kWh number||55.47|
|Annual power consumption cost||$6.30|
With its included six-cell battery, the Pavilion dv6t ran for 4 hours and 49 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. A hair under 5 hours for a 15.6-inch laptop is very good, but we've seen better out of products like the Apple MacBook Pro. For a Windows laptop in 2011, it's better than average.
HP offers a standard one-year warranty with the Pavilion dv6t. A variety of other warranty and service options can be added point-of-sale on HP's site, starting at $99 extra for a two-year Care Pack pick-up-and-return service to $199 extra for a three-year Care Pack House Call service with accidental damage protection. HP's Web site and phone service are easy enough to navigate, although with all the variations in configurations, matching your specific laptop can be a bit of a challenge.
Find out more about how we test laptops.
HP Pavilion dv6t-6000
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 6,144MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6,490M/64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 640GB Seagate 5,400rpm
Toshiba Satellite E305-S1990x
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420s
Windows 7 Professional (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm
Dell Inspiron 15R
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M; 6,144MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm