HP Pavilion G6-2242ea
15.6 in 1,366x768 display, 2.5kg, 1.7GHz AMD E2-1800 APU, 6.00GB RAM, 750GB disk, Windows 8
The G6-2242ea is a very cheap laptop, but it still looks stylish. Its smart purple lid and interior and smooth curves set it a world apart from most other budget models. It's right up there with the Lenovo's IdeaPad S400, which is another cheap laptop with a dash of flash. It's unusual to see a laptop that looks this good and feels so expensive for only slightly more cash than an ultra-budget netbook.
The G6-2242ea also seems to have an impressive specification. You're well served for storage options, thanks to a generous 750GB hard drive and a DVD writer, and there are three USB ports for external devices, two of which are the newer, faster USB3 type. Seeing a hard disk this big on such a cheap laptop is surprising, and, while optical drives may be on the way out, it's still useful to be able to burn music CDs to use in the car or photo CDs to send to relatives. There’s also a VGA and HDMI port for connecting the laptop to an external monitor, and a card reader to copy photos straight from high-capacity SDXC cards.
The laptop's touchpad is much better than the IdeaPad S400’s, with two individual buttons and a slightly textured surface that didn’t cause too much friction or, indeed, frustration over a lack of precision. We had no problem at all bringing up the Windows 8 Charms bar and scrolling between windows by swiping at the edges of the touchpad, and the touchpad was similarly responsive when pinching the screen to zoom in. Its full-sized Chiclet style keyboard is also far more comfortable to type on. The arrow keys were a bit too small for our liking, but all the keys had plenty of bounce and were very evenly spaced apart, and we were typing at full speed in no time at all.
We were also impressed with the laptop's display. A resolution of 1,366x768 is standard for a 15in screen on a budget laptop, and is plenty for most tasks, if not for working on two documents side by side. The screen's image quality is great. Our tests showed colours to be bright and vibrant and, as shown by the high level of detail in both the light and dark areas of our test photos, there's an impressive level of contrast. As always with glossy screen finishes, overhead reflections can be a problem, but there's plenty of screen tilt to compensate for this.