Priced to move, the $499 HP Pavilion g6-1c77nr is designed to offer good performance for everyday tasks such as surfing the web, social networking, email, and watching online video. And to do that HP loads this 15-inch laptop with a last-generation Core i3 processor, 4GB processor, and a relatively large 640GB hard drive. Those looking for a capable and affordable notebook should put this system on their short list, but is it the best value out there?
Editor's Note: Portions of this review were taken from the Pavilion g6x review.
The all-plastic g6-1c77nr looks friendly, with smooth and rounded corners and a laminated countertop-like shine. The notebook's shiny lid resists fingerprints and feels sturdy for this price range. Inside, the Pavilion g6-1c77nr's screen and deck are framed with a darker gray, save for the lighter hue of the wrist rest and the recessed keyboard well. A lone oval power button with a subtle light sits above the keys.
One helpful addition is the bright LAN indicator LED--yellow for off, white for on--on the Function 12 key. It shines like Polaris in the night sky to reassure you that you're connected.
Measuring 14.7 x 9.7 x 1.4 inches and weighing 5.2 pounds, the Pavilion g6-1c77nr is fairly light and compact for a notebook with this size display. However, the Gateway NVC54u weighs even less at 4.8 pounds.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Pavilion g6's keyboard is set into a recessed moat with a traditional layout. Typing on the keyboard was comfortable, thanks to the nice terraced shape of the keys and solid feedback. HP also gets extra points for reversing the function keys so that you can adjust the brightness, volume, and other settings without using a button combo.
One problem is that the touchpad isn't centered between the G and H keys, like on most notebooks; switching between touch-typing and moving the cursor took some adjustment. We also wish HP had included a dedicated number pad to the right of the keyboard; there's certainly enough extra room on the deck.
To differentiate its g6 laptops, HP created a wide textured touchpad (3.5 x 2 inches) in a fine raised-dot pattern. Cursor control was satisfactory, but executing multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom required more effort than on other laptops. We appreciate the indented dimple in the top-left corner of the touchpad that toggles it on and off when tapped twice.
While nice and large, the touchpad buttons on the g6 felt a little stiff, which is especially trying when you're dragging and dropping.
Display and Audio
Gracing the HP Pavilion g6-1c77nr is an LED-backlit 15.6-inch widescreen display with a standard resolution of 1366 x 768. On the plus side, the screen is fairly bright. Using an AEMC lightmeter, we measured an average lux reading of 200. That's higher than the Gateway NV55 (167 lux) and Dell Inspiron 14z (194 lux).
Like the g6x, though, the screen on the g6-1c77nr lacks deep blacks. Tilting the screen back to about a 45 degree angle produced the best results.
Backed by SRS Labs technology, the Altec Lansing stereo speakers on the front edge of the Pavilion produced better sound than most sub-$500 notebooks. The system got loud enough to fill a medium-size office when we streamed Rise Against's "Satellite" on Slacker, but it was harsh at the max volume. You can easily tweak the audio using the handy SRS Premium Sound utility, which has enhancement settings for Movie, Music, and Voice, as well as an equalizer.
Ports and Webcam
All ports except the power and a single USB connection are located on the right side of the Pavilion g6-1c77nr, along with the DVD reader/burner drawer and security slot; the two other USB ports, the HDMI, Ethernet, VGA display, microphone, speaker and SD/MMC card are on the left.
Like the g6x, the webcam on the g6-1c77nr presented a mostly grainy image, but it performed well in low light and has a wide viewing angle, so several people can be seen in the same shot.
Despite the Pavilion g6 sitting on our lap for more than an hour, we felt little heat discomfort. In the lab, the keyboard measured 76 degrees after we streamed a Hulu video for 15 minutes, a slightly higher 82 degrees at the G and H keys, and the underside 88 degrees.
The Pavilion g6-1c77nr features a first-generation 2.4-GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 5,400-rpm 640GB hard drive. With these components, the notebook achieved a PCMark07 score of 1,332. That showing is well below the 2,238 category average but in line with other budget 15-inch laptops. The Dell Inspiron 15 M5030 (2.3-GHz AMD Athlon II P360) scored a lower 1,278, but the Gateway NV55C54u (2.4-GHz Intel i3-370M CPU) notched a higher 1,429.
The Pavilion booted the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium in a relatively swift 49 seconds, a bit faster than the Gateway NV55 (53 seconds) and much better than the mainstream average (61 seconds).
On the OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, the HP Pavilion took 6 minutes and 55 seconds to match 20,000 names and addresses. This time is slightly faster than the Gateway NV55 (7:04) and on par with the mainstream laptop average (6:56).
On our file transfer tests, the HP duplicated 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 3 minutes and 47 seconds for a transfer rate of 22.4 MBps. That's below the category average of 30 MBps.
Graphics and Gaming
For less than $500, you shouldn't expect to get a gaming machine--and you don't. The g6 registered a mere 1,602 in 3DMark06, which is lower than the Gateway NV55 (1,751) and the Dell Inspiron 15 (1,725). World of Warcraft is just a no-go on this laptop; we saw a max frame rate of just 9 fps on auto mode.
The Pavilion g6-1c77nr lasted a respectable 4 hours and 39 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuously web surfing on 40-percent brightness over Wi-Fi. The AMD-powered Dell Inspiron 15 M5030 lasted only 3:07, but the Core i3-powered Gateway NV55C54u had a longer runtime of 4:54. The average mainstream laptop lasts 4:37.
The HP Pavilion g6-1c77nr is labeled as a quick-ship model, which means you can't really tweak the configuration options. For $499, you get a last-generation 2.4-GHz Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive, and DVD burner. If you want more flexibility, opt for the g6t, which lets you choose from multiple second-generation Core i3 processors, add discrete graphics, and even add a Blu-ray drive.
You can also choose a different color for $25: blue, pewter, or purple. This color carries over from the lid to the deck.
Software and Warranty
HP bundles the Pavilion g6 with some of its own utilities, including HP Connection Manager, HP Setup Manager, and HP Support Assistant. You'll also find HP's MovieStore and Snapfish for photos as well a proprietery app launcher (pictured). HP Games is a portal for playing casual games from WildTangent.
Third-party software includes Evernote, Rhapsody, and a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security.
For $499, the HP Pavilion g6-1c77nr is a great laptop for bargain hunters. The design has a more premium look and feel than its price tag would suggest, and we found the keyboard comfortable to use. Our only gripes are the display's narrow vertical viewing angles and the lack of a dedicated number pad. In this price range some may prefer the Gateway NV55C54u, which offers slightly better performance and longer battery life but a chintzier faux-wood finish and a smaller touchpad. Overall, the g6 remains one of our top budget laptops, but we suggest spending just a little more for a second-generation Core i3 processor inside the g6t model.