Thursday, December 20, 2012

HP Envy Sleekbook 6z-1000 review

HP's Sleekbooks are a line of higher-end thin and light laptops based on AMD processors. These notebooks are slim, light, and have a cool, ultramodern design. But the Envy Sleekbook 6z-1000 isn't super high-end: it has an AMD processor and 6GB of RAM, and at the time of writing it costs just £549. In other words, it's the perfect notebook for people who care more about looks and price than processor speed. The looks are even a notch above the slim and similar-looking Acer Timeline Ultra M5. See also: Group test: what's the best ultrabook laptop?

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Our review model comes equipped with an AMDFusion A6-4455M processor, which has a stock speed of 2.1 GHz and integrated Radeon HD graphics. Other specs include 4GB of RAM, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a 500GB hard drive spinning at 5400 rpm. Our model runs a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.
HP Envy Sleekbook 6z-1000: Performance

The Sleekbook did not perform well in our lab tests. In our WorldBench 7 benchmark tests, the Sleekbook scored a very low 55 versus our baseline of 100, which means it's 45 percent slower than our reference test model. The Sleekbook's low score isn't a huge surprise, since AMD processors typically perform worse than do Intel processors in WorldBench 7, but it's lower than we expected to see for a 15.6-inch all-purpose notebook.
The average WorldBench 7 score of the last three all-purpose laptops we've tested—which all had Intel Ivy Bridge processors—is 130.3, or more than twice the score of the Sleekbook.
The Sleekbook performed especially poorly in WorldBench tests that stressed processor speed. In the PCMark 7 office productivity tests, for example, the Sleekbook managed a mark of 972, which is significantly lower than the last three laptops' average mark of 3909.3.
The Sleekbook also takes a long time to boot up (46 seconds to the last three laptops' 24.7 seconds) and compress files (923.8 seconds to the last three laptops' 479.8 seconds). Basically, the Sleekbook is nowhere close to outperforming or matching its similarly-spec'd Intel brethren, but processor speed isn't everything.
Graphics performance on the Sleekbook is good, considering that the computer relies on integrated graphics. Don't get me wrong—the laptop's Radeon HD 7500G graphics are no match for a discrete GPU, but AMD's integrated graphics typically match up well against Intel's. In our Crysis 2 graphics tests, the Sleekbook managed frame rates of between 11.7 frames per second (high-quality settings, 1366 by 768 pixel resolution) and 24.4 fps (low-quality settings, 800 by 600 pixel resolution), which are decent but nowhere near acceptable frame rates for today's gameplay.
The Sleekbook also boasts an acceptable 6 hours, 35 minutes of battery life, which about a half-hour longer than the average battery life of the last three tested laptops.

HP Envy Sleekbook 6z-1000 Design: Chassis, Keyboard, Trackpad

What the Sleekbook lacks in processing power, it makes up for in sexiness. HP's Sleekbook line is sturdily built, with premium components and a modern design.
The Envy 6 has a slim, black brushed-aluminum lid with a small silver HP logo in the lower left corner. Inside, the keyboard deck features the same brushed aluminum finish, with small indents surrounding the keyboard and the trackpad. The 15.6-inch screen is surrounded by a glossy black plastic bezel.
The bottom of the computer is where all the colour is. The underside of the Sleekbook is made of a rubbery material coloured a bright crimson. This unexpected pop of colour is actually a nice touch, in my opinion, and adds to the premium feel of the machine. It's also kind of sexy—like a Christian Louboutin shoe.
The Sleekbook sports a full-sized keyboard with island-style keys. The keys are quiet when you type on them, and they offer good tactile feedback. They're also nicely spaced—not too close together or awkwardly far apart—which makes typing accurately a breeze. Above the keyboard is the Sleekbook's power button and speakers, complete with a small Beats Audio logo. There are no discrete buttons on the keyboard deck, but the keyboard's Fn keys function as media playback buttons and audio and brightness controls by default.
A large, lightly-textured trackpad is located under the keyboard. The trackpad has a small box in the upper left corner, which you can double-tap to turn the trackpad off. A slim line near the bottom of the trackpad denotes the mouse button areas; like Apple's glass trackpads, the entire lower half of the pad depresses when you click a mouse button. The trackpad is comfortable and accurate, and has smooth multitouch functionality.
The Sleekbook's port selection is closer to that of an Ultrabook than an all-purpose machine. Because of its slim design, it has no optical drive. The left side of the notebook has a pop-open ethernet port, an HDMI-out port, two USB3.0 ports, and an SD card reader. The right side holds one USB2.0 port, a Kensington lock slot, and microphone and headphone jacks.
HP Envy Sleekbook 6z-1000: Screen and Speakers

The Envy 6 sports a glossy 15.6-inch screen with a native resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. While this resolution is pretty typical for a budget-priced laptop, it's still disappointingly low-res for a 15.6-inch screen. Screen resolution aside, the Sleekbook's screen looks pretty good: it's fairly bright, with good contrast and accurate colours. Off-axis viewing angles are also good.
Video looks and sounds good on the Sleekbook. You will see some artifacting and choppiness in HD video clips, but overall it's pretty bearable to watch. The HP's speakers, which are located above the keyboard, are comfortably loud and, thanks to the Beats Audio enhancements, sound fairly full. You won't be able to have a raucous drum-and-bass party with these speakers, but they're well above the category average.

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