The HP Pavilion dv6 is a midrange model from HP. Its multimedia capabilities suit it to a range of uses, from office applications and Web browsing to watching movies and viewing your holiday snaps.
Handling and Design
Visually, the HP Pavilion dv6-1225ef is all black and makes a handsome overall impression, and the top has a decorative imprint that's simple and discreet enough to fit in anywhere. The overall appearance is relatively restrained despite HP's use of glossy plastics more or less throughout. Unfortunately, a glossy finish means fingerprints, stickiness, and dust are all very likely to appear. At least the patterns on the shell help to reduce their visibility.
The notebook's build quality is quite good, and the plastics are high-quality in spite of their showy gloss finish.
The keyboard has a pleasant, supple feel. It even has a number pad, which is always a plus for users who need to enter figures or do calculations regularly. Certain keys have been re-sized to make everything fit within the width of the shell.
The touchpad is wide and fairly attractive. Unfortunately its mirror finish and resulting totally smooth surface make dragging difficult. Your fingers tend to stick, and that quickly becomes unpleasant during use. The click buttons are firm and integrated well into the pad.
The Webcam isn't great. The colors are too saturated (that is a somewhat fluorescent green t-shirt I'm wearing, though, so don't worry), and overexposed areas burn out. Fluidity is fairly good, and the microphone delivers good sound.
The HP Pavilion dv6-1225ef is fairly noisy. There's a continuous fan noise audible in a quiet room, and the fan ramps up into "turbine mode" when the demands on the machine get heavy. That's a shame, because we expected better in this department - there would have been room in the case to install quiet, effective ventilation.
Connectivity is complete, with connectors spread out along the edges of the notebook. There are four USB 2.0 ports, including one e-SATA combo, 1 IEEE 1394 FireWire, 1 HDMI, 1 VGA, 1 proprietary extension port, 1 5-in-1 memory-card reader, 1 RJ45 network connector, 2 headphone jacks, and 1 microphone jack. Wi-Fi b/g/n is also present and accounted for, and an included remote control is stored in the ExpressCard port.
|VGA, HP port, RJ45, HDMI
||e-SATA / USB, FireWire, ExpressCard
|Micro, 2 headphone jacks
||DVD burner, 2 USB 2.0 and power
Vista Index: 4.7. Details: Processor 4.9 - RAM 5.9 - Graphics 4.7 - Game Graphics 4.9 - Main hard disk 5.6.
"Disappointing" is the word that comes to mind when you look at the test results for the AMD Turion X2 RM-75 processor. It barely logged better performance than the Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 used in the Asus UX50V. This is yet another argument that shows how processor frequency isn't everything - the RM-75 is clocked at 2.2 GHz, compared to only 1.4 GHz for the SU9400! The results were almost exactly half as good as those of our reference computer, the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650.
While that still might be good enough for use with office applications, Web browsing, and watching films, you'll need patience if you want to get into video and photo editing. Results like these might have been understandable if this processor had been designed to save energy. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case, given this notebook's rather poor battery life (see end of test).
Video decoding is handled by the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 dedicated graphics card, with hardware acceleration. That means you can play HD movies (like Blu-ray) with no problem. The processor can also take over the task, at the price of high CPU usage rates. You'd do better to use the graphics card and activate hardware acceleration with compatible software.
The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 is a low-midrange model. So you'll want to avoid resource-hungry games like recent FPS titles (Crysis, games based on Unreal Engine 3), or else set all the details to the minimum. Games like Race Driver: GRID, of course, can run with the detail levels set to medium. Slightly older game titles also play well, as do those that use 3D engines that are a little less demanding on resources, like the Source engine used in Half-Life 2
The audio system is adequate, delivering sound that doesn't saturate too quickly. As is often the case with laptops, there's a lack of bass and limited spatialization. The inclusion of two headphone jacks is a plus. It lets you listen to music or watch a film with a friend without disturbing those around you (while traveling, for example). The outputs are fairly clean and both have a quite adequate volume level.
Portability & Battery Life
At only 1 hour 37 minutes while playing video (with the display set to 100 cd/m², headphones plugged in, and Wi-Fi disabled) despite a 6-cell battery, this notebook's energy consumption is clearly excessive. That's probably the fault of the AMD Turion X2 RM-75 processor, which can't match the energy efficiency of an ultra-low-consumption Intel processor such as the SU9400.
And we're a far cry from the performance of the Apple MacBook Pro 15'', which had twice the battery life, lasting 3 hours 19 minutes during the same test.
At 2.94 kg, this is also a fairly heavy laptop. The use of a 16:9 display format makes for a fairly wide computer. But it's still less bulky than a 17'' notebook.