The HP Pavilion dv7-6101sa's aluminium shell makes it both sturdy and attractive. With a 17.3-inch screen and Beats by Dr Dre speakers, this laptop is also well suited to movie playback. But, at around £560, is its performance any cop?
Big body, big sound
Measuring 416 by 36 by 275mm, the dv7-6101sa is no commuter's friend. You'd be hard-pressed to squeeze this laptop into a rucksack. In fact, if you're going to stuff it into a bag, you might like to consider one that has wheels -- this machine weighs a not inconsiderable 3kg.
The 17.3-inch screen begs to be your media buddy. It's bright, with decent contrast and colour levels, making this laptop a good choice for watching flicks.
The dv7-6101sa bears 'Beats Audio' branding, after Dr Dre's line of bass-heavy Beats headphones. We tested the speakers with some dirty dubstep tunes. Compared to the utterly appalling speakers on most laptops, these ones provided plenty of volume, as well as more bass, thanks to a small subwoofer on the underside of the machine.
While the speakers are definitely better than average, you'll still need to hook the laptop up to a proper speaker set, or use some good headphones, if you want to fully enjoy your music and movie soundtracks.
Full metal jacket
The dv7-6101sa is wrapped in a very sturdy brushed-aluminium shell. The sleek metal is also found on the keyboard surround and wrist support. The whole package looks rather stylish and up-market. If it's important to you, most people will probably think you paid more than £560 for this machine.
The keyboard itself has isolated, square keys that are set slightly too far apart for our liking. They're decent enough to type on, but it took us a while to get used to the feel of them. Thanks to the large chassis, HP has been able to whack in a numeric keypad to the right, but, for some reason, felt it necessary to make the up and down arrow keys half-size, so they're awkward to use.
The trackpad is of an average size. We aren't keen on the coating, though, as it makes the trackpad feel stickier than it needs to be. The buttons are fat and wide but feel pretty cheap and unpleasant to click. It's not a major point, but we do appreciate the click of a good button.
You'll find a decent set of ports around the side, including two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 sockets, HDMI and VGA outputs, two headphone sockets, a mic socket and a multi-format card reader. We were disappointed to see a DVD drive, rather than Blu-Ray drive, on this guy -- if it really wants to be a movie mogul, it should let us use our high-definition discs. At this price, we can't complain too much though.
The dv7-6101sa packs a 1TB hard drive, so you can safely download as much hi-def content to your machine as you want, without worrying too much about it eating up of all your storage space.