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HP Envy 6 SleekBook review

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.

Trinity ups its game in graphics tests. The Radeon HD 7500G comes with 256 stream processors, a stock speed of 327MHz and a Turbo Core clock of 424MHz. It didn't run our Crysis test but, in Just Cause 2 and DiRT 3, it proved its worth: it averaged 30fps in both games' low quality tests run at native resolution. That won't threaten discrete chips, but it's more than Intel's HD Graphics 4000 core can handle it averaged 10fps in Just Cause 2 and 17fps in DiRT 3.

The low-power chip lends itself, on paper, to decent battery life but, again, AMD couldn't trump Intel. One of our favourite Ultrabooks, HP's Folio 13, lasted for 8hrs 12mins in our light use battery test, which is more than thirty minutes more than the Envy managed it ran out of juice after 7hrs 27mins.

HP Envy - Ports

Elsewhere, the specification extends to 6GB of RAM, a 500GB hard disk, 802.11n wireless and Gigabit Ethernet. There's no sign of any business-pleasing extras though, with TPM, mobile broadband and a fingerprint reader all missing. The one-year warranty isn't as generous as the three-year deals that are included as standard with many business notebooks, either.

Conclusion

When examined closely, then, the Envy 6 falls behind its Ultrabook rivals in numerous ways: it's not as fast in applications, its screen is average, and it misses the mark when it comes to ergonomics.

It makes up ground in other areas, though, with better graphics performance, good design and build quality for a 15.6in machine, and a 457 exc VAT price that makes it twice as cheap as many of its Ultrabook rivals. If you like the idea of an Ultrabook but can't stomach the price, this is a cheaper alternative just don't expect it to accomplish much beyond basic computing tasks.

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.

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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