First Impressions of the G60-214EM – Real Life User Review

There are so many websites out there that simply parrot the manufacturers blurb about a given laptop, phone or car simply because they havn’t been allowed to play with one. Consequently, I hope that I can do you all a service by writing a review about my new Hewlett-Packard laptop, the HP G60-214EMhplaptop

This is an entry level laptop, whilst not at the bottom of the pile, it certainly isn’t priced as a screamingly fast or powerful machine, but has some fairly useful specs: a Dual Core Althlon Processor (the QL-60), an nVidia Graphics Card, 3Gb RAM, a lightscribe DVD writer and a 250Gb Hard Disk: all of these made it an attractive package over my other choice – the Compaq CQ60218 which only boasted a Sempron (single core) processor. It comes in at £429 at PCWorld, which isn’t a bad price for this spec, I feel. It also has that difficult to emote sense of security that comes with using a big name laptop: Dell, Toshiba, HP etc have a slight sense of reasurrance that, forgive me, doesn’t come from an Advent, Novatech, Packard Bell (which I know is really the big and bold NEC, but loses something in the rebadging I fear).

It is a wide laptop, so although it is only classed as a 15.4″ machine, it has a much wider screen, thus taking advantages of the Flock sidebar fully, and for me can hold two documents side by side with comfort (or a browser and a debugging window).

widescreen

The Graphics Card appears to perform well. One of the key demands on this laptop is as the main engine for Blesséd Masses running Easyworship and putting stuff out of the external VGA port as a second monitor. It runs Easyworship well, and even shows video as a background, which I have not ever been able to run before! So far I have not seen any flickering which affects the Dell Inspiron 1525 we use in Church, but I won’t have properly road tested that until the end of the month when we use it at the Children’s Pilgrimage and at the next Blesséd (Palm Sunday, make a date in your diary 😉  )

The screen is bright as well as wide, and the width is best played out by the full size keyboard, which includes a numeric keypad, so it is easier to do alt-137 -> ë which I realise might not be a major problem for many of you, unless you have a daughter called Zoë. It has a webcam, but I suspect that is just a bit of a gimmick. It won’t get used that much.

Running Office Software has been a breeze, and it has handled quite large Word documents packed with images with no problem. Likewise, Paintshop Pro, Dreamweaver and Fireworks as well as Adobe Photoshop Elements. I have also been impressed by its video crunching using Sony Vegas. Many people might think it slow, but it compares favorably with the desktop I currently use as my workstation. I am a real-life user and can’t afford the cutting edge machines that ‘professionals’ use, so I accept a moderate render time as an acceptable price to pay for only having a quarter of the budget: it works, and when I am in the field (by which I usually mean Norfolk) it will be fine.

Wireless connection was good in terms of range and signal strength, although I didn’t think that its throughput was very impressive when I transferred a lot of video down the wire (in fact I gave up and connected it to the network using a wire for that task in the end). A couple of days later and the speed is fine… I wonder if it was my wireless network?

The video and audio performance is more than acceptable. DVDs play well and sound quite loud through the inbuilt Altec Lansing speakers, so I can watch iPlayer in the bath (from the other side of the room before you throw your hands up in horror – it isn’t a waterproof machine!). The memory card slot supports SHSD and I have read an XD card as well, and it pulls stuff from my video camera well. A good machine to support your photography.

But what isn’t good? I’m not so impressed by battery performance. I think I get about an hour and a half at moment, and this is a new battery. My wife’s Dell is still better after over 9 months. It is also not quite so good at sleep mode. Pressing the button or closing the lid is effective but waking up is a full restore from hibernation and not a straight “here I am!” that you get with a Dell.

So, what are you looking for? Portable word processing? Internet access in a cafe? Downloading your photos on the move?  Certainly? Watching DVDs in bed or iPlayer in the bath? It will do it well? Creating video, it will be fine for a budget. I have yet to install Red Alert 3, but I’ll let you know about that…

Overall, a good machine for the money. I have had no regrets about its purchase and would happily recommend it for people who want to use it like me. Although I am not a power user, I make considerable demands on my machines, not least because I use them on the road – in Church, in School, in Costa’s and it is on my back between all those places. That’s what laptops are designed for, and if they can’t cope with that, then they are as useless as trainers sold as “fashion accessories” which can’t cope with running or exercising (are you listening, JJB Sports?).

UPDATE:

I have now used it at a Children’s event, and given it a thorough real-life use test. See here