Let me make a confession, I’m a specs whore. Yes, every time a new processor comes out, I start feeling like my computer is “mysteriously” sluggish. To write my great American teen fantasy novel that will make me rich beyond my wildest dreams I need the latest, greatest, top of the line computer that has the best of everything.
Currently, I use the 13-inch Macbook Pro that has a Core i7 chip, 8 Gigs of Ram, 750 Gig HD and I’m still not happy with my machine – because I must have a Quad Core Chip. As the great T-Pain once said, “It ain’t hardcore unless is hexicore! Megagiwatts son!” I really want to go back to Windows, but again I want top of the line, best of the best – but is all this power really necessary?
When the folks at HP floated the idea of me giving their consumer level HP Pavilion G Series laptop to review, I initially scoffed. I mean a $500 machine that only has a Intel Core i3 Processor, 4 Gigs of Ram and a 500 Gig HD? Puhlease! Are you kidding me? Send me an Envy and then we can talk.
If I’m honest with myself, looking at my every day computing needs the answer is a resounding, probably not. I’m a slightly above average user who does a little bit of development, a lot of writing and some basic video editing (using Adobe Premiere and iMovie) for YouTube. I also use apps like Movie Magic, Final Draft, etc. Surprisingly enough, I’m not much of a PC Gamer. I’m probably that 10 or 15 percent of the computer buying public who wants the new hotness, but really doesn’t need it.
I really like this computer; for $500 it has a surprisingly solid build and I like the smooth finish of it. When the lid is closed it is surprisingly thin and fairly “lightweight.” Not featherweight like these new finagled “Ultraportables”, but I would say it has about the same “footprint” as my 13 inch Macbook Pro and is about as thin.
The system I tested included:
- Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
- Intel Core i3-380M 2.53GHzc
- 4GB DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive
- Intel HD Graphics
- Wireless LAN 802.11b/g/n WLAN
- LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD -R/RW with Double Layer Support
- 6-Cell Battery
The 15.6 diagonal High-Definition HP BrightView LED Display (1366 x 768) looks nice enough, but the colors still look a bit muted and it was hard to find that perfect viewing angle. I find this the case on most windows laptops, nothing quite compares to the bright glossy finish of an Apple display.
You want ports? This systems got em – 3 Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 ;1 HDMI ;1 VGA (15-pin) ;1 RJ -45 (LAN) ;1 Headphone-out ; and 1 Microphone-in. Not a bad collection at all.
The 6-cell battery lasted a respectable 4 hours in my every day computing – checking some email, writing a few articles and watching a couple of YouTube videos (trying to get those darn Riddler Trophies!). It lasted two hours watching a movie. Again – $500 people!
It seems like no matter what or how advanced computer technology becomes or what manufacturers claim there will never come a day when a laptop will have more than 5 hours of battery life in “real” situations. My over priced Macbook Pro claims 10 hours of Battery life but gets the exact same performance as this one.
While I really liked the overall design and feel of this system, the keyboard felt a bit flimsy and hard to type on and the track pad – just, no. The track pad was absolutely terrible to use, especially when I’m now used to using a multi-touch pad. It was very slow in responding to my touch, there was no pressure to let let me know when an action was actually clicked. Just terrible. I rarely use laptop track pads, so this was not a deal breaker for me.
The computer does come with a lot of bloatware including: 60-day Norton Internet Security 2012 Subscription; HP Support Assistant; HP Power Manager; HP Recovery Manager; HP Launch Box; HP Setup Manager; LoJack for Laptops and HP Game Center.
I put a couple of DVDs into the DVD Drive and they looked perfectly fine. I loved the audio quality on this machine. Even though it does not use HP’s Beats technology it does have SRS Premium Sound with Altec Lansing speakers and they do an amazing job producing nice, even sound during music and video playback. I never once felt like I had to hook this machine up to my external speakers or plug in a pair of headphones. I had the machine in my Bedroom and could hear it in my living room.
The Intel Core i3-370M 2.4 Ghz Processor and 4 Gigs of Ram worked perfectly fine with Windows 7 Home Premium – 64 bit. Everything ran smoothly, Windows Live Services (Live Writer, Photos, etc) worked perfectly fine on this system. I even loaded up Adobe Premiere Elements and edited and rendered photos with no issues at all. A 5-minute video clip took less than 8 minutes to render.
After this test went well, I was like, Ok, let’s really test it, so I put Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection 5.5 on the machine. Again it was a little slow, but still very workable for the type of minor things that I do with Photoshop, Premiere and After Affects. The system even worked fine with Pinnacle Studio 15. Is it smoking fast no, but it suited my purposes – if you are are doing videos for YouTube or Podcasting this system is perfectly fine for that.
If you are a gamer, this machine isn’t for you. This system does not come with a seperate graphics processor and the built in integrated graphics chip that comes with Intel’s Core i3-370M Processor ran away screaming when I fired up Batman: Arkham Asylum and Portal.
Then there is the whole Windows Vs. Mac issue, I have a Mac because I’m a reviewer so I need both systems, but in my heart of hearts I prefer Windows, although I will say every time I go back for a visit to the Windows world I remember why so many people prefer Macs.
There are just too many jerks out there that delight in making malicious software. I swear in the first 1/2 hour of using this machine, I downloaded a File Compression Utility from Downloads.com, which claims to have 100% maleware free software applications, basically destroyed the machine for a few hours. Luckily, I know all the tricks to get around apps like this and managed to get it un-installed. This simply doesn’t happen with Macs (I have all sorts of different issues with Macs). Microsoft is doing the right thing by implimenting an App Store in Windows 8, hopefully it will cut down the risk of getting one of these apps in the future.
The only thing that holds the HP Pavillion G6 back is the clickity keyboard, awful track pad and perhaps my “deal breaker” – the small hard drive (500 GB – in this day of digital media, simply isn’t enough). I let the keyboard and track pad slide because 75% of the time I keep my laptop docked to a 24-inch screen.
Did I mention this machine is $500? I paid $1,600 for a top of the line maxed out 13-inch Macbook Pro – a machine that I’m scared to even take out of my house. For the money and specs, this machine is perfectly fine for your average consumer, even a slightly above average user and spec whore like myself.