HP's Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea looks to be trying to be many things in one device. The essential proposition is something like a 15in ultraportable for a reasonable price of £699. Can the HP's laptop deliver as a cheap ultrabook? Read our Envy 6 Ultrabook review to find out. Read reviews of ultraportable laptops.
A good start is made by the HP Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea with its stylish and modern design. Considering its 15in size, it's a thin and light laptop at 20.5mm and a shade over 2kg.
We liked the combination of black brushed-aluminium lid and keyboard surround with a red plastic underside that seems to glow as it reflects light. This metal finish does attract fingerprint marks over time which detracts from its smartness.
The HP Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea's keyboard with Scrabble-style keys is comfortable to type on. It's a shame to find that even without a separate numberpad, the arrow keys have suffered in size; Up and Down keys are squeezed into the space of one key.
CoolSense is HP’s trademarked strategy to keep certain areas of its laptops cool enough for comfort. We don’t know if it’s a marketing gimmick but the wrist rest areas remained as cool other laptops, perhaps more so.
HP Envy Ultrabook 6 video review
HP Envy 6 Ultrabook video review
HP also trades on the Beats Audio badge. Sound is delivered via a pair of stereo speakers and a ‘subwoofer’, in reality a third tiny loudspeaker. There's an on-screen panel with various controls including a graphic equaliser and some more confusing sliders for things like 'space' and 'focus'.
We found sound quality to be pretty good but still lacking in the bass department, considering the extra bass speaker.
The large multi-touch trackpad was smooth to the touch and responsive to use. However, the large size is partly down to the two integrated buttons. We found it difficult to press either without moving the pointer – suggesting a cheaper low-grade sensor or badly written control software.
Like just about every other Windows laptop on the market, the HP Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea has 7 Home Premium 64-bit pre-installed. Despite the relatively low price by ultrabook standards, build quality is at a good level.
Looking under the shiny bonnet of the HP Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea reveals one way HP has kept the price down. Yes, it has a third-generation Intel Ivy Bridge processor but it’s the slowest part available, the Core i5-3317U dual-core clocked at 1.7GHz (2.6GHz with Turbo Boost). Coupled with this is 4GB of memory, where 8GB is now quite common.
In our real-world WorldBench 6 benchmark, the HP Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea scored a not-so-ultra 112 points. This relatively low score might also be partly due to the use of slower hard disk rather than solid-state storage.
HP does list an mSATA SSD in the spec sheet for the Envy 6-1010ea (as well as the seemingly identically priced and equipped Envy 6-1010sa). Yet our review sample contained a lone 500GB hard disk.
As with most budget and ultraportable laptops, there’s no separate graphics processor. The HP Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea instead relies on the Intel HD Graphics 4000 within the Core i5. This will now allow you to play some games but you'll need to keep the detail settings and screen resolution down for a worthwhile gaming experience.
HP Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea: Performance
In our benchmark tests, we recorded 20fps in FEAR at Maximum detail. This isn't quite playable although running Crysis at 1024 x 768, DirectX 9 and Low detail, the Envy Ultrabook managed a useful 46fps.
The 15.6in LCD display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, a rather low resolution for this size screen. We were disappointed to find that the common glossy finish to the screen was too reflective for comfortable use, and viewing angles were quite restrictive.
The array of ports isn't quite up to what we're used to for a normal 15in laptop although it would be considered good for an ultrabook: HDMI, gigabit ethernet, two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, headphone-out, mic-in and an SD card reader.
The main omission from the laptop is of coure an optical drive.
HP quotes a battery life of up to eight hours for the HP Envy Ultrabook 6-1010ea. We didn't hit this target but managed a still decent few minutes past the seven-hour mark, (426 min in MobileMark 2007 Productivity).