HP Envy 6 SleekBook review

Reviews 9 Oct, 2012

This sub-£500 AMD powered SleekBook aims to offers users an alternative to the premium priced Intel-based Ultrabooks, but the 15.6in device can't quite match the performance.

3
Price: 
£457
ex VAT
Verdict: 
HP’s attempt to tackle the Ultrabook for half the price is admirable, but its budget cuts are evident in several key areas: the screen mixes mediocre quality with a low resolution, good design and build quality is matched with iffy ergonomics, and the AMD APU combines poor application performance with good graphical grunt. If Ultrabooks are too expensive, this £457 exc VAT Envy 6 is a good alternative – just don’t expect too much.

Intel has shaken up the laptop world by spending shedloads of cash on Ultrabooks, but it’s left AMD with a problem: while its A-series APUs have been well-received thanks to a balance of application and graphics performance, Intel’s domination gives it fewer platforms than ever to show off its technology. To compete with the Ultrabook range, AMD has come up with its own range.

Meet the SleekBook

The new HP Envy 6 looks and feels like an Ultrabook but, squint at the corner of the chassis, and you’ll see a different logo, with the red of AMD replacing the blue of the familiar Ultrabook sticker. There’s a different name, too: HP has dubbed these AMD-powered machines “Sleekbooks”.

The Envy 6 shares many of the desirable attributes we’ve come to expect from Ultrabooks. A smart brushed metal finish coats the Envy’s body and is reminiscent of the designs we’ve seen on dozens of Intel-powered laptops, and the familiar red of Beats, the audio technology that’s included on so many HP laptops – is found on the base.

For a machine which has a £457 ex VAT price, the built quality is of a high standard and rivals the more expensive Ultrabooks. There’s very little give to be found in either the wrist-rest or the base, and the screen is the only area where we made the Envy significantly flex – and, even then, its bending didn’t give way to any distortion on the 15.6in panel.

Getting down to business

The Envy 6 looks and feels like it can match its more expensive competition but, begin using the Sleekbook and you'll see why it is cheaper. It doesn’t match up to Intel’s stringent hardware requirements, for instance – at 20mm thick and tipping the scales at a little more than 2kg it’s both thicker and heavier than the majority of Ultrabooks.

We found the keyboard to be inconsistent too. The sensible layout means it’s easy to get up to speed, with a double-height Return key and a wide space bar. The typing action is reasonable, too – relatively light thanks to Scrabble-tile keys but with a solid base that makes typing comfortable. We’re no fans of the space bar’s irritating plasticky clicking noise, though. And HP hasn’t managed to a fit a numberpad onto the Envy 6.

Specifications: 

OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

PROCESSOR: 2.1GHz AMD A6-4455M

RAM: 6GB DDR3

STORAGE: 500GB hard disk

SCREEN: 15.6in 1,366 x 768 TFT

CONNECTIVITY: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi

PORTS: 2 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2, 2 x audio, HDMI

DIMENSIONS: 374 x 253 x 20mm (WxDxH)

WEIGHT: 2.2kg (2.5kg w/power pack)

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