Finding a budget, multimedia notebook is no easy feat. There are tons of options out there, but among the crowd, only a handful stand out. HP’s dv6 is one of those notebooks as the series has always infused great style and build with good performance to boot. Competitors may offer you the same components for cheaper, but if you look at the overall packaging, the build quality and styling, it’s hard to beat the DV6 line-up. Today, we have one of their mainstream offerings, the dv6-6116tx, which packs in a decent configuration without breaking the bank.

Design and Build
Available in Espresso Black, the dv6 looks stylish and definitely has a premium feel to it. The lattice pattern lid keeps fingerprints away leaving just a single backlit HP logo at the bottom. The build quality is very good, just as we’ve come to expect from this series.

Great design coupled sturdy build quality

Great design coupled with sturdy build quality

Connectivity is taken care of by four USB 2.0 ports, VGA, HDMI, two headphone-out ports, microphone, LAN and a card reader. The stereo speakers are placed in the front and feature Beats Audio. Inside, you get a full-sized keyboard with chiclet keys making it quite comfortable to use even for extended typing sessions. The edges of the trackpad are lit, lending it a cool look. While it’s smooth to use, the mouse buttons are a bit noisy when pressed. The overall fit and finish of all the components have been done well and don’t feel like they have skimped much on the quality of plastics used.

Features
For a mainstream multimedia notebook, it comes with a pretty decent kit. Powering the dv6 is an Intel Core i3-2310M running at 2.1GHz. This dual-core processor has Hyperthreading support, but not Turbo function. We also have a single 4GB stick of RAM allowing you to add another one. Storage has been taken care of by a 500GB SATA drive running at 5400rpm and an AMD Radeon HD 6490M with 1GB GDDR5 memory. The 15.6-inch screen is LED backlit, but with a lower 1366×768 resolution. This isn’t too much of an issue really as icons and images don’t appear too pixelated

No USB 3.0

No USB 3.0

The discrete graphics card also features switchable graphics, which automatically shuts down when performing regular tasks and only kicks in, once you start any graphical application. HP also bundles along a ton of features like a Recovery Manager, ProtechSmart, Symantec Norton Internet Security (60-day trial), Evernote, Skype and Office 2010 trial version. The dv6 also features a biometric fingerprint reader for security, but you can also configure it to start up any application that you frequently use.

Performance
We’ve compared the HP dv6 with the Acer TimelineX 5830TG, since they both roughly cost about the same and are mainstream multimedia notebooks. Here, the Acer does come across as a better performer, simply because of the faster Core i5 CPU and better graphics card. It beats the HP in practically all the tests, so if you look at both the notebooks from a pure performance stand point, then the Acer 5830TG definitely offers more value for money. In our gaming tests, we had to tone down the settings quite a bit, which is why we couldn't compare it to the Acer. With the resolution set to native, we had to dial the image quality down to a mixture of low to medium settings in DX9 mode, in order to get playable frame rates.

Not the best performer on the block

Not the best performer on the block

The HP makes up for the lack of performance in the benchmarks with superior build quality, which goes a long way, if you want your notebook to last a couple of years. The Acer feels very plasticy, which shows where Acer has skimped, in order to make this more affordable. Yes, HP is slower, but it feels better made and won't shatter to pieces, if you happen to drop it.

Keys are very comfortable to type on

Keys are very comfortable to type on

Like we mentioned before, the keyboard is extremely comfortable to use and the feedback of the keys are firm and not overly spongy. The audio quality is also very good, thanks to the Beats Audio. The bass is lacking, but the audio doesn’t feel flat in any way. You’ll enjoy watching movie or music even without headphones. One thing, however that we do miss is USB 3.0, which hopefully HP will add to the 2012 line-up. 

Battery Life
The 6-cell battery managed about 1hr and 10min in Battery Eater Pro, which makes it just about average. Under normal use without engaging the discrete card, the notebook will last you about 3-3.5hrs. We feel the problem is with the discrete card, which eats quite a bit of power, which reduces the battery life. Also, when engaged, the exhaust fan spins at a high RPM, which is easily audible.

Verdict
The Pavilion dv6-6116tx will cost you Rs.38,897, which is not too bad for a mainstream multimedia notebook. Granted, it’s a bit underpowered, compared to the competition at the same price point, but then not many notebooks in this price bracket are built as well as the HP. If you aren’t going to be playing too many games or intensive 3D applications, then you won’t be disappointed with the dv6. Mind you, you’ll have to sacrifice USB 3.0 as well. On the other hand, if all you care about is performance then you can’t go wrong with the Acer TimelineX 5830TG. In the next refresh, HP should bump up the specs a bit for the same price, which would then make the 6116tx an excellent buy.

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