Based on a 16:9 aspect, 15.6in display, the HP Pavilion dv6 range is the latest addition to HP's mainstream laptop lineup. There's plenty of competition in this particular sector, since 15.6in is essentially the new 15.4in - i.e. the mainstream laptop size. Just recently we've reviewed the Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/S and the Dell Studio 1555, both of which have impressed, so the dv6-1240ea we're looking at today has its work cut out.
Having praised Sony's recent effort for its lack of glossiness, the HP is very much at the other end of the spectrum. We can be thankful that at least the keyboard sports a non-marking, matte finish, but every other surface is finished in a glossy sheen that attracts dust and fingerprints with abandon. Even the touchpad, which has a mirror-like 'liquid metal' appearance, is glossy, though it is at least very smooth. Its two buttons are individually hinged too, so provide crisp and audible feedback.
Still, if you can see beyond the glossiness of it all, the dv6 makes an arresting first impression. Its dark brown 'Espresso' finish, imprint designs and the backlit HP logo on the lid give it an individual edge and contrast nicely with the silver of the touchpad and trim. Those who prefer their technology a little more discreet might find it all a bit too much, but even if it won't appeal to all tastes this is still a well designed laptop.
This goes for its ergonomics, too, which are particularly strong. Unlike either the Dell or the Sony, the HP squeezes in a very useful number pad alongside the keyboard, while the audio connections are moved to the front-right for easy access. Also at the front is an infrared receiver for the provided remote, which can be stowed in the ExpressCard slot. This is a great feature for any laptop, since it makes using it as a multimedia machine - playing music through your Hi-Fi or watching a film - that bit more attractive.
To further this end there are touch controls above the keyboard comprising a mute button, a volume slider and wireless radio toggle - playback controls can be found on the top row of the keyboard. As for the keyboard itself, it's pretty good. We encountered no problems with the layout, while the aforementioned number pad is invaluable. Were one nit-picking the key action is a little on the soft side, but keys still provide ample feedback and there's no alarming flex to worry about.