- HP G62-a45SA: it has a higher performance Core i3-350M processor than the one tested here but its ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250 graphics solution doesn't allow you to do any decent recent 3D gaming.
HP's G series offers "the essential, nothing superfluous". They aim to be both affordable and able to handle all round tasks. Worth a look for your first machine, simple and effective.
Handling, design and build: clean design, well assembled
Coated in white, the HP G62 doesn't look like an entry-level computer. The plastics are good quality and finger marks won't show up too quickly. The finish is absolutely fine. There's a matte texture with motifs in the shape of a prism. Only the screen surround is in glossy black plastic and contrasts with the rest. This part is however susceptible to micro-scratches and finger marks.
As a whole it seems robust and the screen hinge sufficiently solid.
The keyboard is standard and is made up of flat keys (15 x 15 mm at the top and 18 x 18 mm at the bottom of the key) giving fluid and quiet keying. Note there's no numberpad, which could be a problem if you're numbers orientated. The downside on this keyboard are the shortcut buttons that are placed on the left hand side and which contrast with what you'd expect on a standard keyboard. We would have preferred to see them on the right or at the top in the form of multimedia keys. We found ourselves hitting these keys by mistake, which quickly becomes annoying - it takes a little while to get used to them.
The touchpad is entirely integrated into the shell and is large enough to be comfortable to use (94 x 56 mm). It's a shame that there is no demarcation as again we found ourselves clicking outside the touch zone (especially when we wanted to scroll down pages vertically). Apart from this, the touchpad is nice to use and gives a rapid, precise glide.
The webcam is just about ok. The bright areas are unfortunately overexposed and fluidity could have been better. That said, it's perfectly usable as an occasional solution.
The fan gave us a nice surprise: the G62 is very quiet when processing office documents. Like many laptops, it does become noisier when processing heavier tasks.
Connectivity is quite limited, which is understandable given that the G62 is an entry-level machine. That said, the essential is there: three USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI, a VGA, a 5-en-1 memory card reader, an RJ45, a headphones and a mic socket. Wi-Fi b/g/n is also included.
Underneath, there's a panel for access to the RAM and hard drive.
| HP G62 from above
||DVD rewriter, USB 2.0, power supply, anti-theft
|VGA, HDMI, RJ45, 2 USB 2.0s, mic, headphones, 5-in-1 memory card reader
||Touchpad and click bar
Processing: mainly office docs and internet
After long months of Intel domination, AMD processors are starting to make inroads on the laptop market once again. Here, you get an Athlon II P320, a small entry-level model clocked at 2.1 GHz.
In practice, in comparison to the entry level Intel Core i3-330M (used in the Acer TimeLineX 4820T), the performance of the P320 is around 40% down! Although this is quite a difference, the P320 is however sufficient for office docs and Internet. You can also do a bit of photo and video work occasionlly, as long as you're patient during the most demanding tasks (retouching, editing, encoding and so on).
High definition video playback (HD 1080p, Blu-Ray equivalent) can also be handled by the processor alone or the dedicated ATI graphics card. We do however advise you to use the excellent video decoding capacities of the graphics card. For that, you'll just need software that supports the graphics card hardware decoding. This is the case with Power DVD 9 or Media Player Classic HC for example. The processor is then totally freed up, which reduces energy consumption and makes it available for other tasks.
3D gaming: limited graphics settings on recent titles
The graphics card in the G62 is an entry-level model. It's an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 545v, derived from the HD 4570 with very slightly higher clocks (identical to the HD 5145). As a result you can't hope to do much with recent titles if you want to keep graphics settings high. If you want to retain decent fluidity in native resolution, with games such as Race Driver GRID or Far Cry 2 you'll have to reduce settings to medium. With very demanding games such as Crysis, the game will only just be playable at the lowest graphics settings. Best to be reasonable then and make do with undemanding titles if you want to do your gaming under good conditions.
Audio: headphones or nothing
We weren't holding out much hope on the audio side and when we listened to the speakers on the G62 we quickly realised we'd been right not to expect much. The sound is pretty bad and there really is no bass at all. As is often the case, the high notes dominate. Thankfully, the headphones out is a good deal better and allows you to enjoy music and video in much nicer conditions. Without being exceptional, it doesn't suffer from any hiss.
Mobility, battery life: for video, best not to stray too far from a wall socket!
The HP G62's battery life for video playback (screen at 100 cd/m², headphones plugged in and wi-fi disactivated) is just 1h51. Not much at all. Best to make do with processing office documents and Internet if you can't plug it in.
In terms of weight, the G62 comes in at 2.2 kg, which is fine for its size. The charger isn't particularly compact but is easily carried around with the machine.