One of our favorite budget notebooks of 2011 is back, and this time HP has upgraded its Pavilion g6t with Dolby audio, a wider keyboard with built-in number pad and a faster second-generation Core i3 processor. Priced at a very affordable $479, the Pavilion g6t-2000 should have everything you need for surfing the Web, watching video and keeping up with Facebook and Twitter. Plus, if you're willing to pay a little more, you can take your pick from multiple color options. Does HP still have the best value-priced laptop?
The HP Pavilion g6t-2000 has rounded corners and a Sparkling Black glossy plastic deck and lid. A silver HP logo rests in the lower left corner of the lid, and it's also printed in white below the display. Above the keyboard is the Dolby Advanced Audio speaker, which takes up the entire width of the notebook.
Unfortunately, the lid smudged up with fingerprints quickly, but some of the optional colors will likely do a better job of hiding them. For an additional $25, you can choose from Bright Purple, Line White, Ruby Red and Winter Blue.
On the top left, above the keyboard, is a long and flat silver power button that has a small light that glows when the computer is powered on. The Pavilion g6 also features numeric keys next to the full-size QWERTY keyboard.
The g6t-2000 measures 14.8 x 9.6 x 1.4 inches and weighs 5.2 pounds, which is smaller and lighter than the 5.6 pound Gateway NV57H54u that measures 15 x 9.7 x 1.3 inches. The Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 is lighter and thinner at 5.1 pounds and 0.9 inches.
The HP Pavilion g6t has a 15.6-inch HP BrightView LED display with a standard resolution of 1366 x 768. Despite bright colors and crisp images, the glossy finish was distracting, making computing difficult in bright-light environments. Even in standard indoor lighting, we could still see ourselves in the screen as we used this notebook.
We watched the trailer for "The Master" and details rendered clear and sharp. You could clearly see the creases in Joaquin Phoenix's jeans and the waves crashing beneath as he laid across a ledge on the Navy ship.
Unfortunately, viewing angles aren't the best on the Pavilion g6t, as images quickly darkened when viewing the display from the left or right. The display is not very bright, either, measuring 160 lux, significantly less than the average of 244 lux. The Dell Inspiron 15R registered 198 lux and the Aspire V5 171 lux.
The Pavilion g6t-2000 is powered by Dolby Advanced Audio speakers, and the sound quality impressed in our testing. The speakers that form a long strip above the keyboard were loud enough to easily fill our testing room.
We played "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen, and vocals sounded loud and clear, complemented by the piano and cymbals, even at high volume. We then switched it up and played Kanye West's "No Church In The Wild" the lower notes and bass were solid--especially for under $500.
The Pavilion g6t includes the Dolby Advanced Audio application for quick audio adjustments. There are three different profiles: Movie, Music and Voice, which adjust the equalizer accordingly. Our favorite setting was the music setting, which provided the most well-rounded experience. This application can also improve audio recording with features such as Noise Cancellation and Acoustic Echo Cancellation.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The g6t features a full-size keyboard and adds a full numeric keypad to this year's model. The keys are a matte black plastic, which stands out against the glossy deck. Typing took some adjusting; the numeric keypad pushes the keyboard to the left of the deck, rather than directly in the middle, which meant the home keys weren't where we expected them.
The arrow keys also takes a cue from Apple's MacBook computers, mashing the up and down arrows so that these two keys match the height of the left and right keys. Unfortunately, on the Pavilion g6t, this arrow key layout isn't optimal and we often found ourselves accidentally clicking both the up and down buttons together when we only wanted one.
We were able to type at our average speed of 72 words per minute, but the keyboard felt slightly mushy.
The trackpad measures 2 x 4 inches and is slightly sunken into the deck, an improvement over last year's trackpad, which was flush. The touch area employs tiny bumps for texture, providing the friction needed for cursor control. There are two buttons for left and right clicking. Two-finger scrolling, rotating, pinch to zoom and three-finger swiping gestures were all accurate, and we especially like the three-finger press for application launching.
HP's budget notebook maintained a comfortable temperature during our heat test, which involves watching a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes. After the test, they touchpad measured 79 degrees Fahrenheit, the space between the G and H keys was 86 degrees, and the bottom was 89 degrees. We consider anything above 95 degrees to be too warm, so the g6t fell well below our threshold.
On the left side of the Pavilion g6t-2000 is a VGA and HDMI ports, as well as an Ethernet jack and two USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks and an SD card reader. The right has a power port, a USB 2.0 port and the tray-loading DVD+/-RW drive. It's nice to see faster USB 3.0 ports on a sub-$500 notebook, something HP didn't offer last time around.
The webcam on the HP Pavilion g6t is standard definition, reaching a maximum image capture of 640 x 460 pixels. Recorded images were grainy and there was noticeable noise in the picture. The notebook comes with the CyberLink YouCam software, which allows for quick image or video capture as well as the use of numerous webcam effects, such as masks and voice-responsive avatars.
The Pavilion g6t is powered by a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i3-2370M processor with 4GB of RAM. Unfortunately, this is the 2nd-generation Sandy Bridge rather than the newer Ivy Bridge Intel processor.
In everyday use, the HP g6t-2000 performed well. We opened the picture viewer, the HP Games application, Chrome with 10 tabs, and played a video on YouTube without any noticeable lag, nor did it take a long time to switch between applications.
This laptop didn't fare as well in benchmark testing. In the PCMark 7 benchmarking test, the Pavilion g6t scored 1,992 compared to the Gateway NV57H54u's 2,060 with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i3-2350M processor. The Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 scored an higher 2417, which is not surprising given its 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor. Both of these scores are below the category average of 2,523.
This HP notebook narrowed the gap in the Geekbench test, but still fell short of competing machines. The g6t scored 5,323 compared with the Gateway NV57H54u's 5,493 and the Aspire V5-571-6869's 5,844 and fell shy of the 6422 average.
The g6t-2000 took 46 seconds to load the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium in the 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive. This showing is faster than the 53-second category average, as well as the Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 (53 seconds).
The Pavilion g6t took 4 minutes and 18 seconds to complete the file transfer test, which involves copying 4.97GB of multimedia files, for a transfer rate of 19.7 MBps. This is slower than both the Gateway NV57H54u (3:47) and the Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 (4:12), but not by much.
Our OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, where we match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses, took 6 minutes and 43 seconds to complete, 40 seconds slower than the category average. Comparatively, the Gateway NV57H54u completed this task in 7:10 and the Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 took 6:15.
Because the Pavilion g6t-2000 uses Intel HD 3000 graphics and not the latest GPU from Intel, you'll have to stick to casual games. This notebook scored 3,628 on the 3DMark06 test, well below the average of 5,714 and behind the 4,454 turned in by the similarly priced Gateway NV57H54u.
When we ran "World of Warcraft" on good quality, this notebook mustered only 24 fps, which isn't quite playable. At the maximum settings, this frame rate dropped to 10 fps, rendering play completely futile. The slightly more expensive Acer V5-571 notched a much higher 50 fps.
The 6-cell battery in the g6t lasted 4 hours and 50 minutes during our battery test. That's decent endurance for a budget notebook, given that other sub-$500 machines we've reviewed have lasted about 4.5 hours. The HP's endurance is close to the Inspiron 15R (4:52), but behind the mainstream category average of 5:27. The last-generation g6t lasted 4:39, and the Acer V5-571 had a lower 4:12 runtime.
Software and Warranty
This notebook features the HP Premier Experience, which includes numerous features and a quick-launch application to help provide a cleaner and faster experience. The HP Launch Box provides three quick access icons to the task bar, one for Windows Live applications, another for HP recommended apps and the third that's fully customizable. The Windows Live Launch Box offers quick access to Mail, Messenger, Movie Maker and Photo Gallery. The HP Launch Box is configurable for HP recommended applications, such as Evernote and Skype. Our favorite Launch Box was the third, since it was fully customizable and we could add handy shortcuts to My Computer, Control Panel and even streamline connecting to a projector.
Additionally, as part of the HP Premier Experience, all programs in the start menu are preorganized into folders by category, such as Communication and Chat, Productivity and Tools and Shopping and Services. An Action Center control panel item is also part of the Experience, and this captures and organizes the computer's alerts and pop-ups, prioritizing each one and providing a single place to view and manage all computer messages.
HP also includes the HP Games application, which bring Apple's App Store-like functionality to this notebook. Users can browse, play and download games from a variety of categories, such as Enthusiast, Casual and Family. With an HP Games account, users can try games before they buy, and there is also a section for free Web games.
The g6t-2000 includes the standard Microsoft Office Starter 2010 bundle, which includes ad-supported versions of Microsoft Word and Excel. Also included is Skype, a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2012 and note-taking app Evernote.
In addition to multiple color choices, HP provides a number of processor options for the Pavilion g6t-2000, including a 2.3-GHz i3-2350M processor for $10 less than our review unit. And if you want to upgrade the processor, a Sandy Bridge i5-2450M is available for $65 more, a Ivy Bridge i5-3210M is an $85 upgrade and an Ivy Bridge 2.1-GHz i7-3612QM processor will cost an additional $235. Graphics upgrades are also available: a 1GB AMD Radeon HD 7670M discrete graphics processor is an additional $50 and a 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7670M GPU is an extra $75. Bumping up to 6GB of RAM is $50 more and 8GB of RAM is $100 more.
Priced at $489, the HP Pavilion g6t-2000 is a low-cost notebook with plenty of features and plenty of punch for everyday tasks. While the second-generation Core i3 CPU is older, this notebook provides solid performance and has booming Dolby Advanced Audio speakers. The g6t also runs cool and lets you choose from multiple color options. The Acer Aspire V5-571-6869 offers faster Core i5 performance for just $30 more, but it also has a bland design, worse keyboard and shorter battery life. Overall, if you're looking to stretch your budget, this laptop is an excellent choice.