The keyboard is exceedingly comfortable, with wide, flat keys that feel solid and sound nearly silent when pounding out e-mails or laptop reviews. Unlike many 15.6-inch laptops, including the Asus K501J and the Dell iM501R, the HP G62 does not feature a dedicated number pad. Though some users may bemoan its absence, we think the majority of budget buyers won't miss it, because without a number pad the keyboard is perfectly centered below the screen and no keys are shortened.There is room for a column of shortcut keys along the left side of the keyboard, which offer one-button access to Windows Live Mail, CyberLink PowerDVD 9, your default browser, a print window, and a calculator. It will take some getting used to, however, before you're not hitting the print key instead of Shift, the calculator key instead of the Alt key, or caps lock instead of the "a" key. The laptop does not have a row of multimedia shortcut keys above the keyboard. Instead HP smartly reverse-maps the Function keys so that you don't need to hit the Fn key in order to access their secondary functions, such as adjust volume or screen brightness, or play, stop, fast forward, and rewind a track.
We are happy to see that HP finally retired the chrome-finish touch pad it had been using for the past few generations of mainstream laptop models (its glossy surface always created drag against your mousing finger). In its place is a touch pad with a matte finish, resulting in an improved mousing experience. In fact, the textured design of the keyboard deck runs uninterrupted across the touch pad. We're not normally fans of borderless touch pads, but the touch pad here is big enough that your finger doesn't wander off. We were disappointed, however, to discover that the touch pad does not support multitouch gestures. It's an increasingly common feature and is found on both the Asus K501J and the Dell iM501R.
In the upper-left corner of the touch pad is a small LED, which offers an easy way to disable the touch pad. Double tap the corner and the LED glows orange, alerting you that the touch pad is disabled. Double tap again and the LED turns off, indicating the touch pad is back in action.
Below the touch pad is a single, rocker-bar mouse button. We prefer two separate mouse buttons, particularly when the single button is as stiff and hard to press and keep depressed as the HP G62's. Keeping the button engaged while you drag and drop a file is especially challenging. In the course of writing this review, we gave up and got an external mouse because of the effort required to engage the mouse button. Considering this is the part of the notebook that users interact directly with the most, it's hard to fathom why HP didn't put more thought and effort into designing a better mouse button.The 15.6-inch display features a 1,366x768-pixel resolution and is LED backlit. Movies look better than they sound. Images are crisp and vivid, but the laptop's audio leaves something to be desired. The Altec Lansing speakers sit above the keyboard, behind a thin speaker grill that runs the width of the keyboard. We were not impressed with their tinny, weak output (and we never hold high expectations for a pair of integrated laptop speakers to begin with).
A low-grade 0.3-megapixel Webcam sits above the display and uses Cyberlink's YouCam software for acceptable, but not fantastic, images.Connectivity and expansion on the HP G62-225DX is decidedly average. You get three USB 2.0 ports and a media card reader, but no ExpressCard slot. HDMI is onboard, but eSATA is not. Networking comes by way of 802.11n Wi-Fi and 100/100 Ethernet.The HP G62-225DX features the Intel Pentium T4500 processor, a dual-core chip clocked at 2.3GHz, making it an entry-level dual-core processor that is a rung below Intel's venerable Core 2 Duo line and a couple rungs below the current Core i3 and i5 series.Budget buyers will find that it delivers enough muscle for general use, including everyday multitasking scenarios. It was 10 percent slower than the Pentium T4500-based Asus K501J-BBZ5 on CNET Labs' multitasking benchmark, thanks in large part to it offering 3GB of memory to the Asus's 4GB. The HP G62 does feature faster memory, 800MHz to 667MHz. On the more processor-intensive Photoshop and iTunes tests, it turned in a better showing, actually edging the Asus K501J-BBZ5 on iTunes by a slim 3 percent. The Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050, which uses a higher-end Core i3 processor, tops the charts but costs $150 more at $679.
Back in June, we reviewed one of the more stylish HP midrange laptops we've seen to date, the HP Pavilion dm4. The Core i5-equipped 14-inch thin-and-light notebook included upscale design touches and a large touch pad in a sharp-looking metal-and-plastic chassis.Our one complaint with the dm4 was always its price: our reviewed configuration came to $979, which added up to less value than competitors. The retail configuration we found in our back-to-school roundup actually has slightly better specs for only $799. Though you can still get more for the same price from other manufacturers, this laptop now feels like a very good value. And, thankfully, it's still every bit as slim and stylish as ever. For those looking for good battery life and powerful Core i5 performance in a thin body, look no further.As a close cousin of the 13-inch HP Pavilion dm3, the new dm4 shares a similar metallic body. Rather than the brushed-metal look of the dm3, however, the dm4 features etched lines arcing and cutting their way across the palm-rest and lid, adding a smooth, curving texture to the design. The metal surfaces on both the area surrounding the keyboard and the back lid feel great to the touch, but other parts of this laptop feature plastic construction--notably the upper lid, keyboard, parts of the hinges, and the bottom. It feels mostly high-end, although the screen is covered in inset plastic instead of edge-to-edge glass.
The gently rounded corners give the dm4 a soft, consumer-friendly look. The corners of the keyboard tray (and the four keys that sit closest to the corners) are similarly rounded, as is the oversized touch pad.The keyboard is similar to the flat-topped, widely spaced keys we've seen on recent HP systems. Lacking any kind of dedicated media control buttons, all your media and alternate key functions are mapped to the row of Fn keys, although the assignments are reversed; using the traditional F4, F5, etc. functions requires holding down the Fn button. This amounts to quicker volume adjustment and media key access, and is an idea we wish more laptops appropriated.Though the keyboard is nicely laid-out, we found that we made more errors typing on it than on the much more comfortable-feeling Sony Vaio EA24FM, another retail laptop in our roundup. The keys aren't as tall, and sometimes feel a bit sticky when pressed from an angle.
The touch pad is similar to what we've seen on HP's high-end Envy systems. It's larger than most, and the matte-black surface is infinitely superior to the sticky mirrored pads we've seen on the past several generations of Pavilions. The touch pad, like Apple's, eschews separate left and right mouse buttons, instead cordoning off two click zones in the lower-left and -right corners. Still, while it's an overall improvement, some of the multitouch gestures are still hard to use. Scrolling up and down pages using the two-finger method is hit or miss, as is pinch-to-zoom. We found similar problems with the HP Envy 13.
This retail Pavilion dm4-1065dx also includes a fingerprint reader situated to the right of the touch pad. Fingerprint readers are hardly typical in retail machines. They're also not necessary, but the fingerprint-reading security feature was actually quick and accurate to use when logging in, and a smoother process than entering a typed password. The reader's software can accommodate different signatures for all 10 fingers, and even launch different apps by finger. We found this worked well enough to be useful in lieu of keyboard shortcuts.
The HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx not only has a "quick-start OS" that ostensibly loads more quickly than Windows 7 and offers a small suite of apps, like a Web browser, e-mail, and Skype, but this dm4 actually natively boots up in HP's own quick-start OS first instead of Windows 7. Anyone who isn't used to it may find this completely disconcerting. Clicking a corner button launches Windows 7 proper. The HP dm4-1065dx can be configured to boot in Windows 7 every time and skip this stage altogether, but we found it an odd graft.The 14-inch wide-screen display offers a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. Though overly glossy, the display was clear and bright, with realistic color reproduction. It's one of the strongest features on the HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx. The built-in speakers have decent volume for movie and video playback, but don't offer great definition. That's not a surprise, considering the small size of the HP dm4. Above the screen, a built-in 640x480-pixel Webcam offers better-than-average light sensitivity and contrast for video conferencing, but picture quality is still only suitable for small images.
The bad news on the dm4-1065dx is that it lacks Bluetooth and Blu-ray, two features that users are increasingly expecting, even in this price range. The good news is that the port selection includes HDMI and eSATA. Even better, the 500GB hard drive that comes in this particular dm4 is 7,200rpm, a zippier variation than the 5,400rpm most laptops generally include. Four GB of included DDR3 RAM can be expanded after purchase up to 8GB.The Intel Core i5 processor inside the HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx offers a really snappy experience when Web-browsing or working on general apps and multitasking. For most users, this laptop will offer great functional speeds. Though we also appreciate the more budget-minded Core i3 CPU series, we could really feel the faster speeds when loading videos and complex Web pages.There aren't any dedicated graphics on the dm4-1065dx, which means no mainstream gaming except for casual games and streaming game services such as OnLive, which are very adequate alternatives. Truthfully, most users won't miss the graphics when performing everyday tasks. This laptop will provide more than enough for straight-up computing needs, at speeds that are better than average.
Samsung has announced a brand-new line of netbooks, all of which are powered by Intel's latest Atom processor -- the 1.66GHz N450 -- which offers even lower power consumption to push the boundaries of netbook battery life further into double-figure hours.There are four new models in total: the Samsung N210, N220, N150 and NB30. We are promised 12 hours of battery life from the N210 and N220, 11 for the NB30 and 8.5 for the N150. All have 10.1-inch LED-backlit displays.Although Samsung has officially announced all four models, we're still waiting to hear more about the specifics on what's inside. Leaked specs for the N220, however, include 1GB of RAM, a 250GB hard disk, 802.11n wireless and the sod-all-features Windows 7 Starter Edition OS.Don't expect radically new specifications for the other models, though -- they're netbooks after all. The selling point here is battery life, and the power-efficient integrated graphics which are now built directly into the Atom chip itself.