Thursday, June 16, 2011


A sub-$600 laptop never sounded so good--literally. The new HP Pavilion g6x ($544 as configured) offers a snappy Core i3 processor and stereo speakers that beat the pants off of most budget notebooks. A DVD drive is also part of the deal, as is a roomy 500GB hard drive. Just as important, the Pavilion g6x doesn't look cheap, and shoppers can choose from multiple eye-catching colors. Check out our full review to see if this mainstream machine is right for you.


While we wouldn't call it bold, the base model of the HP Pavilion g6x sports an attractive charcoal-gray color scheme. The notebook's shiny lid resists fingerprints, feels sturdy, and has smoothly tapered edges. Inside, the Pavilion g6x's screen and deck are framed with a darker gray, save for the lighter hue of the wrist rest and the recessed keyboard well. A lone oval power button with a subtle light sits above the keys.
If you're willing to spend $25, you can add some flair by outfitting the Pavilion g6x with one of four color options: blue, pewter, purple, or red. This color carries over from the lid to the deck as well.
Measuring 14.7 x 9.7 x 1.4 inches and weighing in at 5.2 pounds, the Pavilion g6x is fairly light and compact for a notebook with this size display. For example, the 15-inch Samsung RV511 has a larger footprint of 15 x 10 inches and weighs 5.4 pounds, though that system has a dedicated number pad. We easily moved the Pavilion g6x from room to room; it's even portable enough for occasional travel.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Island-style keyboards are all the rage these days, but the HP Pavilion g6x opts for a more traditional layout. Still, typing on the keyboard was comfortable, thanks to the nice terraced shape of the keys and solid feedback. HP also gets extra points for reversing the function keys so that you can adjust the brightness, volume, and other settings without using a button combo. Our only problem is that the touchpad isn't centered between the G and H keys, like on most notebooks; switching between touch typing and moving the cursor took some adjustment.   

A wide Synaptics touchpad (3.5 x 2 inches) with a textured surface sits below the keyboard. Cursor control was satisfactory, but executing multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom required more effort than on other laptops. We appreciate the indented dimple in the top left corner of the touchpad that toggles it on and off when tapped twice. While nice and large, the touchpad buttons on the g6x felt a little stiff.

Display and Audio

Gracing the HP Pavilion g6x is an LED-backlit 15.6-inch widescreen display with a standard resolution of 1366 x 768. The is bright enough, but contrast wasn't as high as we would have liked. The black of outer space in 2001: A Space Odyssey DVD wasn't as deep as it should be, especially in darkened rooms. Still, the 720p HD YouTube trailer for Green Lantern looked good, with pleasing colors.
Backed by SRS Labs technology, the stereo speakers on the front edge of the Pavilion g6x produce better sound than most sub-$600 notebooks. The system got loud enough to fill a medium-size room when we streamed Dashboard Confessional's "Vindicated" on Slacker. You can also easily tweak the audio using the handy SRS Premium Sound utility, which has enhancement settings for Movie, Music, and Voice, as well as an equalizer.  

Ports and Webcam

Most of the ports on the Pavilion g6x reside on the left side. These include an SD card reader, two USB ports, Ethernet, and headphone and mic jacks. You'll also find an HDMI port and a VGA connector. On the right side sits a SuperMulti Drive to burn and play DVDs and CDs. Next to this is an additional USB port and a Kensington security slot.

The Pavilion g6x's 0.3-megapixel webcam is nothing to write home about. Snapshots and video had a grainy look when taken near a window and appeared dark with just fluorescent lighting.


The Pavilion g6x remained relatively cool during our testing. After playing a Hulu video for 15 minutes, we measured temperatures of 78 degrees at the touchpad, 88 degrees in the center of the keyboard, and 93 degrees underneath the system. This compares well to the heat we've seen from the average mainstream laptop at these locations (88.4, 90, 94).

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