HP Pavilion 15-e072sa review
15.6 in 1,366x768 display, 2.4kg, 1.5GHz AMD A4-5000M, 4.00GB RAM, 750GB disk, Windows 8
If you're after a good-looking laptop on a budget, HP makes number of laptops that look more expensive than they really are. We were really taken by the HP Pavilion 15-e072sa's glossy red lid and interior. It may look great, but it's not a compact machine; the laptop is 30mm thick and weighs 2.35kg, making it better suited for use around the house than on the move. However, if you do need to work in the garden, you'll be very pleased with the 8h 34m battery life we saw in our light-use test.
The 15-e072sa has a quad-core AMD A4-5000M processor that runs at 1.5GHz. It's not terribly powerful, producing an overall score of just 24 in our application benchmarks and struggling in our multitasking test in particular. Windows 8 still felt quick and responsive, as did most of the applications we ran, but if you want to do lots of different things at once, particularly processor-intensive tasks such as video-encoding, you may want something a bit more powerful. The laptop's 4GB of memory is fine for general use, but isn't so suitable for memory-intensive applications such as editing high resolution images.
The on-chip AMD Radeon HD 8330 GPU only managed a frame rate of 15.9fps in Dirt Showdown at High quality, a resolution of 1,280x720 and with 4x anti-aliasing. This isn't playable, but if you drop the quality to Ultra Low, you'll get a smooth and playable average frame rate of 37.4fps. This definitely isn't a gaming laptop, but you'll be able to play older 3D games and most recent ones if you're prepared to drop the quality settings to minimal levels.
The 15.6in display is among the best we've seen on a laptop of this price. We measured its contrast ratio as 444:1, which is decent by budget laptop standards, with a reasonable amount of detail visible in our low-contrast test images. The screen also did well in our colour gamut measurement test, showing it could display 71.8% of the sRGB colour gamut. Although the screen is glossy, it didn't suffer from glare under our office lighting to the same extent as some rivals' screens. You'll still have to deal with plenty of reflections when viewing a dark screen in a brightly lit room, though. The display has a standard laptop resolution of 1,366x768, but if you need to output higher-resolution graphics to a second screen, there are both VGA and HDMI ports on the right of the laptop's base.
The integrated keyboard and touchpad work well and are fairly comfortable to use. We'd have liked it if the flat, widely-spaced keys travelled a bit further when struck, but they're reasonably responsive. The touchpad has a textured surface and narrow buttons positioned below it, which made it easy to click and drag files, and we had no problems performing gestures such as two-finger scrolling. There’s a full numeric keypad, so the touchpad has been shunted to the right to ensure that it doesn't get in the way when you're typing. Despite this, there's sufficient space on the smooth wrist-rest, although a bit more room on the right would have been welcome.
The integrated speakers are positioned behind the keyboard and sound better than most, with a clear mid-range, although treble is a little harsh and there's not much bass. The 15-e072sa has a generous 750GB hard disk, which gives you plenty of space for media and software, and there's a DVD-RW drive and an SDXC card reader. There's also a 3.5mm headset port and three USB ports, two of which are USB3, even though they aren't picked out in the usual blue plastic. You can connect the Pavilion to a network using either 802.11n Wi-Fi or its 10/100 Ethernet port.
The HP Pavilion 15-e072sa was a capable laptop when we reviewed late last year with one of the best screens we'd seen at this price (£330). Unfortunately it's quickly gone out of stock, and is now hard to find new. You might be able to pick up a refurbished model for around £280 from PC World but these aren't always available - check HP Pavilion 15-e072sa Refurbished.
Unfortunately there's not many other laptops around this price which we can recommend wholeheartedly. Our current pick the excellent Asus X552CL which is packed with great components including an Intel Core i5 processor, a dedicated graphics chip, a 750GB hard disk and 6GB of RAM.
If you are looking for something smaller, more portable and altogether more modern then check out the Asus Transformer Book T100. It's a laptop-tablet hybrid that weights around 1kg and can split in half to be used as a Windows-powered tablet. Best of all you can buy one for just £325 from www.amazon.co.uk.