What We Think
The HP is packed full of nice features, has a great metal body and a powerful i7 processor. Though, there are a few niggles here and there with the battery and fan among others, that prevent a good laptop, being a great laptop.
Big audio, big screens and BluRay players are what the mid-range multimedia HP DV7-6157ea does best. HP’s mid-priced all-rounder takes its styling cues from the high end HP Envy spec of laptops, which is no bad thing.
HP has placed a second generation i7 processor under the hood of the DV7-6157ea, as well as 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and a graphics card in the shape of the AMD Radeon 6490. There’s also a smorgasbord of other features such as BluRay, bass-heavy Dr Dre’s Beats Audio and a finger print scanner for security and gadgetry purposes.
Coming in at under £1000, the HP offers a decent amount of performance for the price. Don’t expect to get away scot free as you won’t carry this beast up Kilimanjaro – it weighs over 3KG. This heftiness is partially down to the sturdy brushed aluminium construction, which adds strength and also attractiveness as well as pounds to the chassis.
As we’ve mentioned weight is a factor; the mixture of the 17.3inch screen and heavy body mean the computer is in excess of 3kg, and it’s certainly only relatively more portable than a desktop. Saying that, it’s not the sort of computer that you want to keep in your bedroom as it’s a quite attractive with its minimalist metal chassis and isolated keyboard, and it overtly takes aspects of style from the eye-catching Envy series of laptops.
The scrabble tile keys of the keyboard are both, visually and tangibly great; with all the throw and spring, you’d expect from a laptop this deep. There is also a dedicated numerical pad and a James Bond like finger reader, which is used to replace passwords, ensuring logging into Facebook has a 007 feel to it. Problems do come in the form of the up and down keys, which are tiny and not loved by our fat fingers. We’d have also liked to have seen some backlit keys for some bedtime work.
The touchpad may also frustrate, as both cursor buttons are integrated into it, meaning you end up moving the cursor from where you wish it was, as well as pressing the buttons when you don’t want. The Beats Audio is fed through four speakers and offers a great low range sound. It’s perfect for watching movies on the large 17.3in screen, though it won’t replace speakers at a party. HP’s moreover included a HD web camera, which offers great clarity and looked good on the display, as long as we did. It’s a large screen; many will appreciate, though as we all should know, size isn’t everything.
The panel has a resolution of 1600×900, allowing it to play 720p video – though it does have a 1080p capable Blu-ray player which obviously isn’t utilised on the computer. Of course, it is possible to stream in HD to a capable TV set or monitor. Thanks to a powerful backlit; the screen is bright, offers good viewing angles and produced vibrant colours in both HD and SD modes. It does have a glossy finish, which limits daytime viewing quality a little, creating a very apparent shine when in direct light.
Graphic artists and those looking for a machine that displays colours for design, or photos can do better if they move to a higher price point, but the HP is accomplished. Fortunately, the i7 2650m processor means that performance wise editing work is within the bounds of possibility.
This second generation chip has a 6mb L3 cache and all the wizardry of the new Intel range of processors, including turbo boost and hyper-threading which all add to speed and efficiency. Adding 4GB of RAM to this assures the HP DV7 offers enough oomph for the typical user, scoring a respectable 1291 in our PerformanceTest 7.0 benchmark test. This placed the HP firmly in the middle-of-the-range of desktop replacement’s market, above the Sony VIAO F series in performance terms and just below the very capable Samsung R780. The VIAO costs around £100 more than the HP and the Samsung is about the same price at around £950-£1,000. Both have i7 processors, and large screens The VIAO has a 16.4in display and the Samsung a 17.3inch one like the HP, ensuring they are good desktop replacements.
The 1TB hard drive is pretty kosher this price of laptop, though we were a little disappointed with the 3D test from the AMD Radeon 6490m, which is a mid-range chip, and the HP scored a poorly 338 in this test. This test shows the computer’s ability to toss around polygons, and shows the HP wanting in 3D terms. Boot-up time was average at around 1 minute 20, though there is some bloatware on the computer. Another black mark is given to the fan which had a tendency to kick in loudly and very often. Connectivity is good, with four USBs – two of which are USB3. The HP also has a HDMI port, gigabyte Ethernet connection, VGA, Bluetooth and three 3.5mm jacks.
Battery life is a little limited at full pwoer, though this isn’t unexpected considering the large-screen size. When tested with our Battery Eater test, which measures the laptop’s performance with all the connectivity bells and processor whistles on, the HP lasted a paltry 1hr and 21 minutes, And it fared little better under battery save usage, lasting 5 hours and 7 minutes, which is enough to see out a long flight.
Those looking for a desktop replacement could do a lot worse. The HP DV7 6b51ea is an attractive well-built machine that takes its quirks from the Envy range which gives it a more premium feel than previous Pavilions. The screen, keyboard and general feel of the laptop ensure it does the more than the basics right, whereas nice additions such as the finger print scanner, HD web cam and BluRay player are all icing.
HP ensures the laptop performs well with the 2nd generation i7 2630m processor and 4GB of RAM. However, the lack lustre graphics card, noisy fan and weight count against it and keep it from being up there with the best of class.