No matter what you say about Black Friday, I still believe. I believe its a great day for America, and it’s a great day for deals.
My wife and I have never really liked our 17″ Gateway laptop. The size is our main complaint. It only fits in one of our several carrying cases. The power adapter didn’t hold up to the wear and tear that mobile computers are known for. The battery only lasted about 2 hours on it’s best charge. And more recently I needed more memory to run virtual machines.
I had been shopping for a laptop for my Sister so I knew what was available. Without too much thought we saw a Black Friday ad in the Sam’s Club flyer and picked up an HP ENVY dv6. Well, I should thank my wife for waiting in line for 50 minutes to pick this up for me while I was in the woods hunting.
I was a little hesitant to go with HP. Ever since their tablet flop I haven’t heard much about their hardware. But my other favorite PC brand DELL hasn’t been all that great either. Similar specs for a DELL would have been at least $200 more. So I was quite happy with a $600 laptop that had in it an i7 and 8GB of RAM.
I had many reservations about Windows 8. We’ve had a Windows 8 box at work so we could get used to it but I have avoided it like the plague. I usually dive right into new tech but I’ve had a lot on my plate so this HP is my first real hands on experience with Windows 8.
The smell of new PC really gets my motor running. I fired it up and answered a few question that were normal Windows install questions. I didn’t really care for the lingo while I was waiting. “Please wait while we do some things”… really “things”. I liked the fact that it showed a quick intro video while the install was running. I wish it would have covered some more stuff.
The hardware itself is sexy. I think HP has always been a little more attractive than most PCs. But, just like a cheerleader from 300 level seats, this one is good from far… but far from good. The sides and bottom are plasticy while the top surfaces are a evenly brushed metal. It’s a little larger and heavier than I expected. I think this is an area for improvement.
After the fairly lengthy install process of Windows 8 I logged in and noticed right away the touchpad leaves a little bit to be desired. It is a little jumpy. One tweak that made it better was increasing the mouse speed. It took me forever to find the control panel. Turns out that short video in the beginning and the search button is quite helpful.
The keyboard looks awkward but actually works very well. There are spaces between the keys but that actually helps quite a bit and debris doesn’t get caught in there very easily. The keyboard is not backlit but if you angle the monitor down a bit that is not a problem.
I installed VMWare Player and setup a Win2012/SQL2012 vm. I had to get into the bios (f10) and enable the VT-d support. That allows me to run 64bit vms which my old laptop did not even though it was a 64bit processor.
I like the new file transfer meter, the estimates seem a bit more accurate at first glance. During the install of sql I popped open the resource monitor and noticed 40ms response times on the hard disk. SSD was one feature I wanted but I figured I could upgrade later. I’m not sure what I’ve got for extra bays but I may have to splurge on that sooner rather than later. O well, at least I won’t have to be that prudent with the 700GB c: drive.
My sister mentioned to me she had read that the HP wireless cards are not good and drop connections all the time. I’m happy to report that hasn’t happened once (yet) on two different routers.
The screen in glorious. Out of the box the max resolution is 1366×768. That causes a slight problem because the min resolution on server 2012 is 1024×768 so unless the vm is in full screen mode it requires scrolling.
The battery life meter has been quite accurate. A fresh charge was reporting about 5 hours of life. I’ve switched the power plan over to high performance and I might have to find myself a toggle widget for that.
The AC adapter is poorly positioned for an right handed external mouser. The AC adapter also feels pretty cheap in general, wouldn’t be surprised if I have to replace that within a year. It is fairly small which is convenient for travel.
HP Beats audio leaves a bit to be desired… but I suppose that is my own fault. When I was young I was really into bass. I was the jerk who shook the china off your walls when he drove by. I quickly grew out of that phase but have always maintained a taste for the finer sub woofers in life. There is a tiny little “sub woofer” in the bottom of the laptop that probably helps with marketing. Granted, this is the best sounding laptop I’ve heard. It does create some convenience to maybe streaming a movie while relaxing in bed and not have to hook up speakers or headphones.
The DVD tray is flimsy piece of crap… I’ll probably have to fix that at some point in the next year. I like the convenience of having a DVD drive and noticed some of the slimmer laptops didn’t have one. Given the choice now I might consider going optical drive less. Also, no blue-ray… I don’t own a blue-ray player yet but haven’t really needed one since I can stream movies and shows from my xbox.
The HP bloatware is off the charts.
I uninstalled Norton and Office trial right away. Some of the other things I will have to do some research on later. I uninstalled “simple pass” which kept re-pinning itself to the quick launch bar. Turns out this might be the biometric software and I should have left it be.
Overall this is a great value for a powerful laptop. I have enjoyed it thus far and stay tuned for more posts that include tips, tweaks, complaints and praises for the HP ENVY dv6.