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Mobile & Wireless

Laptops

HP Envy 6-1006ea Sleekbook review

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On the outside AMD's Envy 6 Sleekbook looks no different to Intel's Envy 6 Ultrabook. Both use the exact same chassis made from plastic and aluminium.

We liked the modern and stylish design of the HP Envy 6-1006ea Sleekbook, consisting of brushed black aluminium on the lid and around the keyboard, with red matt-finish plastic underside. The downside to the aluminium parts is that they invite and show up fingerprints.

For a 15.6in-sized laptop our measurements of 20.5mm and 2kg show it to be easy to handle. Like the HP Envy 6 Ultrabook, the keyboard of the HP Envy 6-1006ea Sleekbook is of a high quality. We found we could type smoothly on the plastic Scrabble-style keys. Our only quibble is the Up and Down arrows occupying the space of a single key so can be awkward to use.

We liked the large size of the multi-touch trackpad which was nice and responsive. The trackpad integrates two mouse buttons underneath. However, HP’s implementation introduces an issue where clicking the button also annoyingly moves the mouse cursor.

Touted features include HP CoolSense, and in our experience we found the wrist rests stayed cool. We weren't so bothered about the audio performance, marketed by Beats Audio. The HP Envy 6 Sleekbook is equipped with stereo speakers plus a 'subwoofer' which is really just another small loudspeaker.

The HP Envy 6 Sleekbook does trump its Intel Ultrabook equivalent in price. It's £100 cheaper at a reasonably £600 and our sample came pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium. For that money the build quality of the Envy 6 Sleekbook is decent enough.

Hardware

Since the exterior design of the Envy 6 Sleekbook is the same as the Ultrabook version it's only the inside that's different.

Instead of an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, the Sleekbook wields an AMD A6-4455M – a dual-core ‘accelerated processor unit’ (APU) that combines a 2.1GHz main processor with Radeon HD 7500G graphics. This is accompanied by 6GB of RAM, or 2GB more than the Ultrabook version. Storage comes in the form of a 500GB regular hard disk drive.

In our WorldBench 6 real-world benchmark, the Envy 6 Sleekbook scored a very disappointing 82 points. That’s a total of 30 points less than the equivalent HP Ultrabook. 

In PCMark 7 we recorded a score of 1493 points. Although the benchmark performance scores were low, in normal Windows use the laptop felt responsive. 

On the graphics side, the Sleekbook's integrated Radeon HD 7500G managed an average of 51fps in FEAR at Maximum detail settings, beating the Intel Envy 6 Ultrabook by 31fps. 

In more demanding games the results weren't so good. It managed 14fps in Hard Reset and a lowly 5fps in Sniper Elite V2, both played at 1280 x 768 resolution.

We weren’t keen on the display on the Envy 6 Sleekbook. It has a native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which doesn't provide a very high level of detail across the 15.6in LCD screen. It has far from wide viewing angles and suffers a glossy reflective finish.

The selection of ports is good for an Ultrabook including HDMI, gigabit ethernet, two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, headphone-out, mic-in and an SD card reader. Like its Ultrabook counterpart, there's no optical drive – you’ll need an external optical drive if you want to pop in a DVD to watch a film.

Battery life

HP states that the AMD Sleekbook offers better battery life than the Ultrabook version, an extra hour at ‘up to nine hours’ to be precise. Unfortunately the Sleekbook didn't manage the touted 9 hours from its non-removable battery. In fact it didn't beat its Intel-powered rival. In our MobileMark 2007 benchmark it lasted 26 minutes less, hitting the 6 hour 40 mins mark on the head (400 mins).



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