Though it wasn't much to look at, we've always thought HP's non-Pavilion G-series laptops were decent for bargain hunters at the very low end of the price scale. The HP G62 we looked at last year was usually available for around $500 and included a workable, if entry-level, Intel Pentium T4500 CPU. HP apparently thought it had something of a hidden gem (or at least a cubic zirconia) on its hands, as the revamped 2011 version not only moves up to be an officially Pavilion-branded system, but also includes a much better Intel Core i3 processor.
Of course, all this wouldn't matter if the price got a significant bump as well. Fortunately, HP is selling this configuration on its site for $549 right now, although we've seen other retailers selling it for up to $100 more.
Our main complaint is that the Core i3 included here isn't the latest 2011 version, but instead one from last year. That means battery life isn't going to be as good (in fact it's pretty terrible), and you don't get Intel's improved onboard graphics. You can build a version of Dell's Inspiron 15R with similar specs and that newer Core i3 for $619, if better gaming and better battery life are of prime importance.
|Price as reviewed||$549|
|Processor||2.54GHz Intel Core i3-380M|
|Memory||4GB, 667MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||500GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel HM55|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||14.7x9.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.3 pounds/6.1 pounds|
Slightly less slablike than last year's HP G62, the new Pavilion G6 mixes light-gray and dark-gray plastic on its body, and has a highly glossy lid that still manages to be very fingerprint-resistant. The chassis doesn't feel as cheap as some low-end laptops we've tried, but there's definitely a little flex to the body and some squeaking from the plastic screen hinges.
The keyboard is slightly different than on HP's higher-end Pavilion laptops, with the up and down arrow keys shrunk down and without a row of dedicated media control keys. The flat-topped keys, which are wider at the bottom, clacked loudly while we typed and wiggled a good deal under our fingers. But keeping the price in mind, it was an overall acceptable typing experience.
The touch pad, in contrast, was a very pleasant surprise. Instead of a large clickpad-style surface, as seen on many of HP's other laptops, you instead get a simple rectangle of textured plastic etched right into the wrist rest with a pair of mouse buttons underneath. This usually isn't our preferred setup, but in this case it worked very well. The touch pad's texture had just the right amount of drag, and the buttons were large and sturdy. Our main complaint would be the sluggish gesture controls; even simple two-finger scrolling is a pain.
The 15.6-inch display features a standard 1,366x768-pixel resolution and is LED backlit. Image quality was good head-on, but quickly deteriorates when you move off-axis. The laptop's audio, despite Altec Lansing speakers, was thin but loud, and about what we'd expect from a $500 laptop.
|HP Pavilion G6-1a69us||Average for category [midsize]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||LightScribe DVD burner||DVD burner|
There are no surprises, or extras, in the included ports and connections. You won't find Bluetooth, USB 3.0, or any other extras, but you do get a DVD burner with LightScribe technology built in. That lets you burn images and text into the top surface of specially made optical media. It's been around for years, but we can't remember the last time we burned a DVD, much less wanted to burn a design onto the disc itself.
With a 2.53GHz Intel Core i3-380M processor, this is a big step up from last year's HP G62 model, which had a bottom-of-the-barrel Pentium dual-core CPU. Note, however, that this chip is from last year's Intel Core-i line, and is not one of the newer second-generation Core i3 CPUs. You can tell the difference by checking the model number: a first-gen Core i3 will have a three-digit model number, whereas a second-gen chip will have a four-digit model number.
Less than $100 more should get you a similar laptop with a second-gen Core i3, and the main advantages would likely be better battery life and better graphics processing. Actual application performance in most cases would be very similar, and this 2010 CPU is perfectly fine for everyday tasks, such as Web surfing, watching online videos, or basic Photoshop use.
|HP Pavilion G6-1a69us||Average watts per hour|
|Raw kWh number||41.12|
|Annual energy cost||$4.67|
Where the new HP Pavilion G6 and last year's HP G62 really come together, unfortunately, is in battery life. Both systems wildly underperformed in this area, and the Pavilion G62 ran for only 1 hour and 56 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. That's not only unacceptable for a 15-inch laptop, but it's even about 20 minutes less than last year's model. If you plan on taking the G6 around with you more than every once in a while, this could definitely be a deal breaker.
The standard one-year parts and labor warranty offers mail-in service. Adding three years of in-home service costs an additional $229, and other warranty options are available. Toll-free telephone support is available 24-7 during your warranty period, and the HP support Web site includes real-time chat with a technical support representative.
Find out more about how we test laptops.
HP Pavilion G6-1a69us
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) SP1; 2.53GHz Intel Core i3 380M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) / 1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i3 380M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 415M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm
Acer Aspire 5742G-7200
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 M460; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 420M; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm
Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB(Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 M370; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm