The HP Pavilion dv6 is a 15in laptop built for home entertainment.

HP's Pavilion dv6 line targets mobile-PC buyers who have an interest in rich media content. The line ships in various configurations; the reviewed here is the entry-level version. Unlike pricier members of the dv6 family - which are based on Intel CPUs - this laptop ships with an AMD Turion II P520 CPU. Currently, this model is listed for £599 inc VAT online. That investment looks to be money well spent.

The HP Pavilion dv6 isn't perfect, but it does include a robust set of features for playing back video and audio content. Audio was especially pleasing. Though the overall volume at maximum levels wasn't particularly loud, and bass was muted, we noted clean overall sound and crisp stereo imaging. Sound quality through headphones was superb - no surprise given the iDT-based codec chip and drivers.

Video didn't fare quite as well as audio. High-definition content through Windows Media video files looked quite good. But the HP Pavilion dv6's LCD display had one of the worst vertical viewing-angle ranges we've seen - even moving our head slightly down or up would make the images fade almost completely. When we watched high-def video from the sweet spot, colours on the 1366-by-768-pixel-resolution display looked correct and the overall effect was pleasing.

Regular DVD playback suffered by comparison. Noise was visible - and somewhat distracting - in some of the sky scenes in Serenity and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The HP Pavilion dv6 display performed worst in normal desktop use. For whatever reason, the LCD contrast is way off, rendering scroll bars difficult to see. Reducing the screen's brightness levels helped a bit, but the display quickly became too dim.

The HP Pavilion dv6 laptop offers numerous connectivity options, including gigabit ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, four USB ports (two on the left, and two on the right), and a flash memory card reader. The decision to put the USB ports on the right side is a bit odd - one port appears on either side of the optical drive tray. Audio jacks, VGA, and an HDMI digital video output port round out the left side.

We had no trouble typing on the HP Pavilion dv6's keyboard, and the oversize trackpad was responsive and accurate. The laptop doesn't have dedicated media transport keys; instead, it doubles up the function keys, defaulting to the special uses (play, skip, brightness, volume, and so on).

The system's responsiveness seemed adequate for a laptop of its class; it opened a browser with 31 tabs without seeming sluggish. The HP Pavilion dv6 isn't a performance powerhouse, as demonstrated by its comparatively low WorldBench 6 score of 71. The included 500GB, 7200-rpm Western Digital hard drive offered plenty of fast storage to round out this unit. We tried running several current-generation games (the laptop relies on the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 integrated graphics), but the laptop's overall performance on games was disappointing. You'll have to reduce detail levels and resolution substantially to achieve any reasonable gaming experience.

This model ships with Microsoft Works and trialware for Microsoft Office 2010. Also bundled is Cyberlink's DVD Suite for creating DVD content and burning audio discs, and HP's own MediaSmart digital media management tool.

At 2.43kg, the HP Pavilion dv6 is reasonably light for a 15-inch notebook - not bad for a unit with an integrated optical drive. The term "thin-and-light" tends to be overused, but it certainly applies to this laptop.

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NEXT: our expert verdict >>

HP Pavilion dv6: Specs

  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • AMD Turion II Dual-Core Processor P520, 2.3GHz, Level 2 cache 2MB
  • 4GB DDR3 (2x 2048MB) RAM
  • 500GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200rpm
  • LightScribe SuperMulti DVD±R/RW with Double Layer Support
  • HP TrueVision Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone
  • Integrated 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth wireless networking
  • 5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader for Secure Digital cards, MultiMedia cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro or xD Picture
  • 15.6in diagonal High-Definition LED HP BrightView Display: 1366 x 768
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 Graphics
  • Sound Altec Lansing speakers
  • VGA, HDMI, stereo headphone-out, microphone-in, 4 USB 2.0 ports, eSATA + USB port, RJ45 ethernet port
  • 90 W AC Power Adaptor
  • 6-cell Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery
  • 2.43kg
  • 245x378x30.8mm/36mm
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • AMD Turion II Dual-Core Processor P520, 2.3GHz, Level 2 cache 2MB
  • 4GB DDR3 (2x 2048MB) RAM
  • 500GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200rpm
  • LightScribe SuperMulti DVD±R/RW with Double Layer Support
  • HP TrueVision Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone
  • Integrated 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth wireless networking
  • 5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader for Secure Digital cards, MultiMedia cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro or xD Picture
  • 15.6in diagonal High-Definition LED HP BrightView Display: 1366 x 768
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 Graphics
  • Sound Altec Lansing speakers
  • VGA, HDMI, stereo headphone-out, microphone-in, 4 USB 2.0 ports, eSATA + USB port, RJ45 ethernet port
  • 90 W AC Power Adaptor
  • 6-cell Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery
  • 2.43kg
  • 245x378x30.8mm/36mm

OUR VERDICT

HP has delivered an impressively polished, media-smart laptop at an affordable price. The odd contrast behaviour and poor vertical viewing angles were somewhat disappointing, but the overall HP Pavilion dv6 package works well for handling rich media content, whether web-based or stored locally. Be sure to try it out before buying, so you can check out its visual fidelity with your own eyes.

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