As mentioned, the HP Envy 6-1006ea is built around an AMD platform, which consists of a dual-core A6-4455M APU with Radeon HD 7500G graphics. Starting off with the processor part, we’re talking about a low-voltage 2.1GHz chip that can clock up to 2.6GHz.
AMD seems to have nailed power efficiency, but performance isn’t quite up to scratch – at least, when comparing to Intel’s Core I offerings. The A6-4455M is significantly slower than a Core i5 and is barely competitive with a low-voltage Core i3. However, while it’s no speed demon, it’s important to remember that its performance is adequate for the vast majority of what the average consumer will demand from it.
HP has chosen to back it with 6GB of RAM, which seems a slightly odd choice but we’re certainly not complaining. Storage comes courtesy of a slow 500GB hard drive with no hybrid SSD component to speed things along. This is yet another factor contributing to an experience that’s not quite as smooth as your average Ultrabook. At least the HDD is protected by HP’s ProtectSmart, which parks the drive head when its accelerometer senses a fall.
TrackMania Nations Forever (average fps, 720p, Medium Detail)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat (average fps, 720p, Medium Detail)
Where the AMD platform can come out top occasionally is when it comes to graphics, if only by a small margin. The Radeon HD 7500G is in some cases better enough than Intel’s HD 4000 integrated graphics to give you just a few extra frames per second in certain GPU-intensive games, but overall it’s a fairly even contest.
It’s worth noting that the Envy 6-1006ea stays reasonably quiet and cool even when under load.
Where this AMD Sleekbook shines is when it comes to battery life. With over eight hours in our test, it kicks some serious Ultrabook behind. To give a neat comparison, the Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 581T is a comparable 15.6in budget Ultrabook with a Core i3 and mechanical hard drive thaqt performed well by Ultrabook standards, yet its seven hour figure is still a full hour less than the Envy 6-1006ea.
This is a tough one. Based on its exterior, connectivity and battery life, we’d say the HP Envy 6-1006ea at £599 direct from HP was a bargain for the price - if you’re after a super slim laptop this large. The average-performing innards do give us just a little bit of pause, but if you want a machine for web-browsing, watching movies, and basic productivity, this Sleekbook is more than up to the task.
Better yet, the apparently identical HP Envy 6-1006sa can be found online and in the high street for a mere £550. However, while this is nearly £100 cheaper than most affordable big-brand Ultrabooks, there’s always the Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 581T, which can be found for as little as £450. Mind you, we would happily pay the extra £100 for the HP Sleekbook’s nicer design, better keyboard, superior connectivity, more generous specs, and longer battery life - just keep in mind actual CPU performance will be a little lower.
It’s also worth noting that there are a lot of new laptops waiting on the launch of Windows 8, so you may wish to hold off until October – though of course this Sleekbook will be upgradeable to Microsoft’s new OS at the current offer price of £15.
HP proves that AMD can play in the sleek ultraportable game just as well as Intel. Performance might not be quite on the same level, but the HP Envy 6-1006ea Sleekbook makes up for this with a cheaper price and longer battery life. Overall, it’s an attractive, well-built and very affordable machine, and definitely recommended if you’re after a light and stylish 15-inch laptop.