While ultrabooks have been around for a year or so, most of the available models are compact 13.3 inchers, with some 11.6 and 14 inch alternatives. However, customers love 15.6 inch laptops, as these are by far the best sold on the market. Thus, it was just a matter of time before we’d see 15.6 inch ultrabooks.
The HP Envy 6 is one of the few available already in stores and we’ve played with one in these last days. You should be aware that we are testing the HP Envy 6t-1000 here, the ultrabook built on an Intel Ivy bridge hardware platform and not the cheaper Envy 6z sleekbook that runs on an AMD APU.
Update: if you’re looking to find some discounts on any of the HP Envy 6 series laptops, this link should come in handy.
The review will tell you more about this laptop, but long story short, the Envy 6 is a 15.6 inch laptop with a sleek and light body, able to offer solid everyday performances, while starting at around $800. It’s of course not as portable as a smaller 13.3 inch ultrabook, but it is way thinner and lighter than the average laptop in this class.
The video review below will take you through most of the aspects you should know about this laptop, but if you’re after extra details, you’ll find them in the written post.
We’re going to start by taking a look at the exterior, as the Envy 6 is a slim notebook, only 0.8 inches thick and weighing 4.7 pounds, while the average 15.6 inch laptops are way bulkier and heavier.
When compared to other 15.6 inch ultrabooks, the Samsung Series 9 is the standard right now, measuring 0.6 inches and weighing 3.8 pounds, while the Acer Aspire V5 is pretty much on par with this HP.
HP offers the Envy 6 in two color options, I got to play with the standard one, that comes with a black aluminum hood and interior and dark-red plastic bottom and sides, blended together into a solid built device. Smudges and fingerprints are a bit annoying on the black finish, but besides that, there’s nothing wrong with this laptop, as I enjoyed the overall feel and finishing quality.
The ports are on the sides, and except for VGA, this HP Envy 6 offers everything we usually get on notebooks in this class. On the left there’s the LAN adapter, HDMI output, two USBs, a card-reader and some status LEDs. On the right, you’ll get the Kensington Lock, the headphone and mic jacks, another USB and the PSU.
As for the bottom, this one is made from this smooth rubbery plastic and only offers a bunch of cooling grills, as there’s no quick way to access the battery or the internals.
Lifting the lid cover, you’ll notice the same dark aluminum used for the palm rest and the sides, while there’s some regular plastic between the keys and a plastic grill on top, that covers the Beats Audio speakers.
The dark keys with a dark background are a bit difficult to spot in dim light, especially since our version did not sport a backlit keyboard. And smudges will be quite annoying on that dark aluminum palm rest, but I’d take this everyday over the regular glossy plastic we usually get on HP laptops.
There’s a wide full-size Keyboard on this HP, without a Num-Pad area, which leaves more space for the regular keys. As a result, this keyboard is spacious. The square flat keys offer decent feedback and the overall typing experience is alright, although the flex and the stickiness of some of the keys jade it sometimes.
My test unit did not feature a backlit keyboard, but that’s actually available as an option on HP’s website and will only cost you $20 extra.
The trackpad is wide and performs OK, most of the time. The cursor can get occasionally jumpy and the entire clickable surface is a bit too stiff, which means that registering commands isn’t as smooth as it should. But you’ll probably get used to that in time.
I also had an issue with multitouch gestures, as sometimes even the basic two-finger scrolling failed to act consistently.
The 15.6 inch screen does have a small bezel, but unfortunately that’s made from glossy plastic and will easily catch fingerprints. On top of the display there’s a TrueVision HD webcam.
The screen itself is glossy as well, which means you’ll have a hard time using this computer in strong light, which is a pity, since a thin and light laptop should be versatile even when used outside, while on the road.
The screen only comes with 1366 x 768 px resolution. I for one would have definitely appreciated something like 1600 x 900 px on a 15.6 inch display, but that’s not even available as an extra option.
The brightness and colors are fairly alright, as long as you’re looking at the screen straight-on, otherwise the viewing angles are poor and the images will quickly wash-out, especially since the screen does not lean on its back as much as I’d want.
As a proper ultrabook, the HP Envy 6t is built on an Intel Ivy Bridge platform. To be specific, there’s an Intel Core i5-3317U inside our test unit, 6 GB of RAM, AMD’s Radeon 7670 HD graphics and hybrid storage and this is in fact almost the top config you can get for this laptop.
As a result, this Envy 6 is fast, despite not sporting and SSD. And it will perform a lot faster after you get rid of most of the crapware HP bundles on this unit.
It will handle the daily multitasking at ease and it will even cope with more serious tasks, like editing videos or clips, running all sorts of multimedia content and even games. So I could say that this laptop is powerful enough to meet the requirements of an average user.
For enthusiasts though, don’t forget that an ULV platform and a mainstream graphics system can only offer that much. In other words, regular 15.6 inch laptops can provide better performances, as they can pack full-voltage processors and more powerful graphics.
Below you’ll find how did this HP Envy 6t score in the usual benchmarks and tests:
HP fitted a 4 Cell 56 Wh battery inside this unit and they claim you could squeeze close to 9 hours of life out of it. In real life, I only managed to get about 4.5 hours of daily average use and close to 5 hours of looping a HD movie, on Power Saver mode.
That’s actually not bad, although I was expecting a bit better when seeing those initial HP estimations.
This laptop is going to run overall fairly cool and quiet as long as you’re not pushing it. In daily use, the bottom will only get slightly warm and the fan will only become active from time to time, but if you’re planing to run games, you should expect the underbelly to get quite hot, although the cooling system will not actually get considerably louder.
You get Beats Audio branded speakers on this laptop, placed on top of the keyboard and I must say that the sound quality on this HP is above average and definitely superior to what you get on standard 15.6 inch laptops, even with the volume turned towards maximum.
As we head towards the end of this review, we should also mention that the HP Envy 6t currently starts at about $700 dollars, while this particular config that we tested here will get you closer to 900 bucks.
Amazon lists some Envy 6t versions as well, slightly cheaper, but if you want to configure your own products and also get Free Shipping, you should see HP’s own store for that. Anyway, for a list of places where you can buy the HP Envy 6t, you should definitely check out this post.
That’s a bit expensive for a 15.6 incher, but still a good price for an ultrabook. For comparison, a similarly configured sized HP Pavilion DV6 (with a regular Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor though) will go for about $730, which is about $150 cheaper than this one.
All in all, the HP Envy 6 is an interesting 15.6 inch laptop and one of the few ultrabooks available in this class.
It’s definitely thinner and lighter than most of its competitors and aesthetically appealing as well. It’s fast enough for the average daily tasks, but can also deal with games or HD movies and that BeatsAudio sound system really adds up to its multimedia abilities.
On the other hand, the keyboard, trackpad and the battery life are only alright, but some of you might find them just not good enough. And the screen is definitely not what I was expecting, although not worse than what you get on mainstream 15.6 inchers these days.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide if the HP Envy 6t is worth the cash and should or should not become your next notebook. Also, you must understand that regular sized laptops will offer better performances than this one, while going for 100-200 bucks less. So you’ll have to decide if sacrificing those for the sleek and light body and the slightly better battery life is for sure what you want right now.
Of course, if you have any other questions about this ultrabook, or others for that matter, just post them below and I’ll reply asap.