There’s no denying that Intel’s Ultrabook standard has had a major, positive impact on the PC industry. With minimum guidelines about weight, size, performance and materials, we’ve seen a surge in ultraportable laptops that actually look and feel every bit as premium as their pricing suggests. There was only one real problem with the Ultrabook, at least if you were AMD: its processors/platforms aren’t invited to the party, as the standard, naturally enough, specifies an Intel CPU and platform.
Welcome to the Sleekbook. This HP classification is for ultraportables that don’t quite meet all the Intel guidelines, but still provide a physically comparable product to an Ultrabook. The first one we’re looking at is the HP Envy 6-1006ea, a 15.6in, metal-clad Sleekbook that’s under 20mm thin and weighs 2kg, sporting an AMD APU at its heart. The best news: it’s all yours for under £600. So can it win against the mighty Ultrabook?
As with most of HP’s Envy laptops, the 6-1006ea looks and feels like a premium product and uses a combination of black and red. The lid and keyboard surround are black brushed metal, while the sides and bottom are a lovely soft-touch red.
Unfortunately the bezel spoils things a little with its cheap-looking glossy black plastic – we would much rather have seen the same red as used for the base. Also, while it looks great, the brushed metal used here makes fingerprints somewhat visible, though much less so than with glossy plastic.
Its touchpad is one of the highlights of the HP Envy 6-1006ea’s design. Raised from a black soft-touch depression, the metal-finish pad sports a subtle concentric ring pattern that’s reminiscent of what we saw on the Asus Zenbook. It works rather nicely, and despite its plastic screen bezel this Envy is one attractive laptop – one to envy, we might even say. Seriously though, it matches most of the Ultrabook crowd for looks.
Build quality is pretty good throughout, with only two minor exceptions: there’s just a wee bit of flex on the keyboard, and the lid doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as we would like. The rest feels brick-solid though.
Really, our only major complaint with this HP Envy Sleekbook’s design is a rather unusual one: the power connector is not L-shaped but sticks straight out the side where it’s far too easy to bump or even break, and it’s very awkward to actually hook up to boot. We expect better from you, HP.
Connectivity is standard for a relatively premium, 15.6in ultraportable. On the left you’ll find a flip-out Gigabit Ethernet jack, HDMI, twin USB 3.0 ports, and an SDXC card reader. The right houses a single USB 2.0 port, along with separate headphone and microphone jacks. As on most ultraportables there’s no optical drive. Wireless is handled by the usual Bluetooth and Wi-Fi combo.
You might have noticed the absence of VGA here. That’s a good thing in our book, especially on a consumer laptop. Honestly, if you’re still rocking a monitor with only analogue VGA, it’s high time for an upgrade. And as for hooking up to a TV, just use HDMI/DVI.