HP has come out with a new range of laptops, the Pavilion G7-1300, a family of 17.3" notebooks designed to accompany you in your everyday life without ruining your savings. The model we're reviewing today is one of the most powerful in the series: the Pavilion G7-1355ef.
To deliver on its promises of power and price HP had to make concessions somewhere, and the chassis seems to have borne the brunt of the strategy. It's made of a familiar glossy plastic—you know, the kind with subtle hints of glitter on it... While the overall assembly is good enough, certain parts, like the palm rest, push in when you press on them. This is clearly budget quality.
Even with the chiclet keys, the keyboard suffers the same problem as the chassis. While it is perfectly functional (with a numeric keypad and well-optimised space), it still comes off as second-rate. The keys aren't elevated very high, and they aren't always quiet, either.
The touchpad, however, is more reassuring. Despite the slightly notched surface, your fingers glide smoothly and easily over it, and you can zoom or scroll horizontally and vertically with two fingers.
Images produced with the webcam are run-of-the-mill. What can we say? It works. That's about it.
Ports: VGA, HDMI, RJ45, USB 2.0 (X 2), mic, headphone and SD card reader
DVD burner, USB 2.0 port and power supply port
The temperature and noise levels are both reasonable. However, the air evacuates from the side, so when you have the G7 sitting on your lap all the heat goes straight to your legs.
Heat levels on the G7-1355ef with the components under stress
Images taken with a Fluke Ti25 Thermal Imager
Our audio input/output measurements were conclusive: the input is clean, and you can use an ordinary headset (there are two mini-jack connectors) or a hands-free kit (there's a four-point connector, like those found on smartphones).
Frequency response smoothed to 1/3 of an octave.
In the green section, it's good; in the orange sections, it's acceptable; but everywhere else...
When it comes to the speakers, the picture ain't pretty. You can hear significant harmonic distortion even before you reach max volume and the frequency response is unstable. We were hoping to see more of the spectrum fall within the green section, or at least the orange. The gaping hole between the lows and upper-mids leaves us with little hope of an enjoyable listening experience, and with the sharp plummet at the high end of the spectrum we advise you not to subject your music to these speakers. The volume may go high, but the quality does not.
ScreenThe Pavilion G7-1300 series' glossy screen has 1600 x 900 pixel resolution. While the amount of information displayed onscreen is adequate, we obviously would have preferred a Full HD screen (1920 x 1080 pixels), which would not be out of the ordinary for this size of notebook.
Either way, the colour rendering is mediocre (delta E of 12.2). For one thing there's a high tendency towards blue, with a colour temperature of 7900 kelvins, where 6500 would be preferable. And the contrast isn't any better. With black tones of 0.62 cd/m² and 184 cd/m² brightness, the contrast ratio is 300:1. A calibration profile will help give the colours a more natural tint, but it won't do anything to raise the contrast.
Our Model: Pavilion G7-1355ef
The model HP sent us to review has an Intel Core i3-2330M processor, 6 GB of RAM, an AMD HD Radeon 7450M graphics card and a 750 GB hard drive (5400 rpm).
Please note: Our comments so far have applied to the entire Pavilion G7-1300 series (see inset). What follows below applies solely to the Pavilion G7-1355ef, as it is the only one with this exact set of specs.
The Intel Core i3-2330M processor, supported by no fewer than 6 GB of RAM, guarantees hitchless execution for the most common activities (document editing, web browsing, movies, etc.).
Here and there it can also execute heftier activities such as video encoding or photo editing within an acceptable time frame. However, if you run these types of programmes often we suggest you opt for a Core i5, or better, a Core i7. This may save you a good deal of time in the long run.
Since there's no SSD or high-speed hard drive (7200 rpm), the G7-1355ef takes just under a minute to start and launch programmes. Closing an application takes just under 15 seconds.
AMD has taken charge of the graphics with the Radeon HD 7750M. Perfectly at ease when it comes to decoding Full HD video, we wouldn't exactly say it gives wings to video games. Unless you're playing smaller games such as FIFA 12, you're going to have to make some concessions with the amount of detail; and on bigger games such as Metro 2033, you'll have to make concessions with the resolution.
MOBILITY / BATTERY LIFE
While the size (41.2 x 26.8 x 3.7 cm) and weight (3kg) aren't ideal for travelling, the 4-hour battery life means you aren't too dependent on having an outlet nearby. Those 4 hours can include video playback with the headphones plugged in, the screen at 100 cd/m² and the Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off. That means you can move from one room to the next without necessarily having to bring your adapter.