While we were a little disappointed by some aspects of the Sony VAIO NW11’s connectivity, no such complaints can be made of the dv6. You get four USB ports in total (more than the usual three), with one doubling as an eSATA port. There are the obligatory HDMI and VGA video ports, while the trio of front-mounted audio jacks (1x line-in, 2x headphone) provide ample audio options.
Also included is mini-FireWire, a 54mm ExpressCard slot, a 5-in-1 memory card reader and a propriety connector for one of HP’s docking stations. HP is unusual in offering the latter in its consumer laptops, but it’s a useful thing to have if you like to connect separate keyboards, mice and monitors as part of a desktop.
So far the dv6-1240ea already has an impressive set of features, but the hardware specification only improves on things. Conducting proceedings is the 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 processor, with 4GB of DDR2 RAM and a 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 in support. Particularly impressive is the capacious 500GB hard drive, which, given the rest of the components on offer, means the dv6-1240 offers a truly outstanding level of refinement for the money.
You can add to this excellent network connectivity, with Gigabit Ethernet and Draft-N Wi-Fi both supplied. You also get Bluetooth, while the 8x DVD Re-Writer drive adds LightScribe label burning to the already bulging list of features. Only the likes of a Blu-ray drive or higher resolution display could really improve upon these basics, but you couldn’t reasonably expect such luxuries in a £700 laptop.
Even without a Full HD resolution, the display on the dv6 is a very good. It exhibits all the weaknesses common to most laptop displays, viewing angles aren’t very wide and it can’t display as many colours as a dedicated monitor, but its colour production is rich and its blacks above the average laptop’s depth. And, while it isn’t 1080p, the 1,366 x 768 resolution is the standard these days and offers enough real-estate to sit two documents side-by-side. A glossy finish means bright sunlight can be an issue, but this is true of 99 per cent of laptops in its class.
Audio performance brings even more cause for cheer. While the dv6 doesn’t quite match the Dell Studio 1555 due to the lack of a mid-range woofer, the Altec Lansing stereo speakers (boosted by SRS processing) deliver a competent performance – certainly better than the Sony VAIO NW Series. Music is delivered with a modicum of punch, reasonable clarity and little discernable distortion even at high volumes. Really frenetic action scenes are probably beyond their capabilities, but anything else can be tolerably enjoyed.