The Bottom Line
Aug 8 2012 - For anyone that is looking to get a thin and lightweight 15-inch laptop, it is going to be hard to find a better overall choice that the HP Envy Sleekbook 6 with its $600 price tag. The downside is that the lower price point also comes with a slower performing AMD platform. it will work for basic tasks but even the first generation Intel ultrabooks will often do better. The hard drive is definitely its weakest performance area especially comapred to ultrabooks with their SSD or cached hard drives. Still, the AMD platform did offer a surprisingly long battery life which may be very useful for those that have to be away from power for extended periods.
- Very Thin And Light For Budget Laptop
- Good Battery Life
- Performance Is Slower Than First Generation Ultrabooks
- Hard Drive Performance Is Particularly Slow
- Screen Has Limited Viewing Angles
- AMD A6-4455M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- AMD Radeon HD 7500G Integrated Graphics Processor
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMI, 5-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.7" x 10" x .8" @ 4.7 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, Norton Internet Security
Review - HP Envy Sleekbook 6-1010us
Aug 8 2012 - HP's Envy Sleekbook 6 is essentially a design that tries to mimic the new larger 15-inch ultrabooks but using the AMD platform that helps it bring is a much lower $600 price tag which is hundreds less than the least expensive ultrabooks. Since HP and AMD don't have to mimic the AMD specs, things are a bit different in terms of performance but the overall size and weight are clearly in the ultrabook range. The system measures just under .8 inches thick making it very thin and at 4.5 pounds it is nearly a pound lighter than the average 15-inch laptop.
Powering the system is the new AMD A6-4455M dual core processor. This is a lower wattage part that has much more in common with the ultra low voltage Intel processors used for the ultrabooks. It is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory which is typical of most budget and ultrabook designs. In terms of performance, it does a much better job than past AMD ultra-low offerings but is still slower than even the second generation Intel processors found in the first generation of ultrabooks. For the average user that is just browsing the web, doing email, watching videos and doing productivity software it will work just fine. Those looking to do more demanding tasks will definitely want to look at either a more powerful standard laptop or a newer generation ultrabook.
Since the HP Sleekbook is about being thin and light, it forgoes the optical drive similar to many ultrabooks. This is not as much of an issue in the past. For storage, buyers get a 500GB hard drive which is fairly typical and provides a decent amount of space for applications, data and media files. The drive spins at a 5400rpm rate which makes the system feel much slower than ultrabooks that either use solid state drives or some form of SSD cache in addition to a hard drive. This is particularly true when booting up or waking the system from sleep. If you need additional storage space, there are two USB 3.0 ports on the system for use with high speed external hard drives.
One of the big advantages that the Envy lineup of systems had was above average displays. In the case of the HP Envy Sleekbook 6, think much more average. The 15.6-inch display panel comes with the very modest 1366x768 resolution typical of most low cost laptops. While the picture was fairly bright and colorful, the viewing angles on the screen left much to be desired. Small shifts off center on the vertical or horizontal cased significant color shifting and contrast loss. Graphics wise, the AMD Fusion platform has generally been quite good in comparison to Intel's HD Graphics found in most ultrabooks and budget laptops. In terms of 3D performance, it actually falls slightly short of Intel's latest which means that this isn't something you can use for PC gaming beyond casual gaming at lowest resolutions and detail levels. The main benefit is that it does offer better acceleration for non-3D applications thanks to the support of OpenCL compared to Intel which excels just in video transcoding with compatible applications.
The keyboard design for the HP Sleekbook 6 uses the isolated layout typical of many systems now. It does not feature a numeric keypad that is typical of many 15-inch laptops which means that there is a fair amount of space on either side of the sunken keyboard. Overall, it offers a good feel and level of accuracy but it isn't quite as nice as some other Envy models. The trackpad is a good overall size but uses the integrated buttons. The button press is fairly stiff and has the issue of incorrectly registering right and left clicks.
With the lack of an optical drive, HP was able to put a slightly larger 60WHr capacity rating within the Sleekbook 6. This along with the lower wattage AMD Fusion processor should yield better overall running times. In my digital video playback test, the system was able to run for just over five and a half hours before going into standby mode. This is actually very good for the system and fares much better than many new ultrabooks equipped with hard drives that last generally under four hours. HP's claim of nine hours of running time is a bit far fetched unless the laptop is idle for the majority of the time.
At $600, the HP Envy Sleekbook 6 is certainly a solid option for those looking for portability. The closest similar systems would be the new low cost ultrabook options that generally offer smaller screens. The Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is a good example. It can be found for between $600 and $800 but it has higher performance and in a smaller package. The big difference is that it has roughly two thirds the running time of the HP.