HP bills the Pavilion G62-454TU 15.6in laptop as an inexpensive home entertainment machine, but it's more than that: it's a very good all-round, entry-level laptop that can be used for a little bit of everything except gaming. The G62-454TU has an official retail price of $649, but it can be bought for as little as $549 from many retail outlets, so it's definitely affordable; and while it doesn't include a powerful CPU such as an Intel Core i3, it's still a laptop with decent speed for office and multimedia tasks.
See our list of the top 10 notebooks of 2011 so far.
Pavilion G62-454TU: Specifications and performance
A 2.13GHz Intel Pentium P6200 CPU is in the engine room of the Pavilion G62, and despite having a name that's a throwback to the 90s, it's actually a CPU that came out toward the end of 2010 and which uses Intel's latest 32 nanometre manufacturing method; this means it's power-efficient and it runs cool. It's a 64-bit CPU with two cores and a frequency of 2.13GHz. It's not great for multitasking, and sometimes while using the computer you will notice some sluggishness, but it does have good overall speed for office applications and popular media encoding tasks. You also get 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 320GB hard drive and integrated Intel HD graphics.
The Pavilion G62 performed quite well in our Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, in which it recorded times of 1min 33sec and 1min 18sec, respectively, while the CPU ran at 100 per cent utilisation. It's actually not all that slower than some Core i3 notebooks on the market, such as the Toshiba C650 or Medion Akoya E7216; but Core-i3-based notebooks also have the ability to process four software threads instead of only two for the Pentium, so they have a lot more headroom for multitasking.
What this means is that if you'll be using the G62 for media encoding, depending on the program you use, you may not be able to use the computer comfortably until that task is completed as the entire CPU will go toward processing that task. You can definitely use the G62 to convert video formats for use on an iPhone or Android smartphone; in our tests using AutoGordianKnot, the G62 took 1hr 27min to convert a DVD file into a 1.5GB Xvid file, and this is an excellent time for such an inexpensive laptop.
You can't use the Pavilion G62 for gaming though; its score of 1434 in 3DMark06 underlines this fact. For decent gaming performance, you'll need a machine with a graphics card that can crack at least 6000 in this benchmark.
Pavilion G62-454TU: Software setup
Before you can use the HP Pavilion G62, you have to sit through HP's software installation process. This didn't go smoothly in our tests, with the installer crashing before we reached HP's 'The Computer is Personal Again' welcome screen. This screen prompts you to register the computer as well as to set updates for the installed software and enable whether or not you want HP to collect information on the usage of that software. Then it asks if you want to activate the pre-installed Norton Internet Security software, and then it shows you how you can connect to the Internet. All of this just adds time to the overall setup procedure and it's a little frustrating. We wish HP would do away with it and just let the computer boot!
Pavilion G62-454TU: Build quality and features
The Pavilion G62 weighs 2.5kg and is well built overall, but you can tell that it’s a cheap notebook. In particular, its screen has very narrow viewing angles, too much reflectivity and you can never be truly comfortable sitting in front of it — we were constantly adjusting its angle in order to lose reflections and to get better contrast. Its touchpad also isn't great as it is the exact same material as the palmrest and you can't tell if you're within its boundaries when moving your finger. Furthermore, its buttons are awful; they are too hard to press, especially with one hand. It's one of those touchpads where you have to use one hand to move the pointer and the other hand to press the buttons. The stiffness is due to the single plastic moulding for both buttons; they'd be much easier to press if they were separate left- and right-click buttons.
The Pavilion G62's chassis doesn't creak when you pick it up from either end and it feels quite solid. Its keyboard is decent, although there are shortcut keys to the left of the Tab and left Shift keys, and there are Page Up and Page Down buttons to the right of the Enter and Backspace keys. These take some getting used to.
Around the edges of the chassis you'll find a built-in DVD burner, VGA, HDMI, 10/100 Ethernet, USB (three), microphone and headphone ports, as well as an SD card slot. There is a webcam built in to the screen and you also get 802.11n Wi-Fi, so the G62 is a good candidate for those of you who want a cheap computer with which to Skype family and friends overseas, for example.
Pavilion G62-454TU: Battery life
A 6-cell battery is installed in the Pavilion G62. In our endurance test, in which we disable power management, maximise screen brightness, enable Wi-Fi and loop an Xvid-encoded video, it lasted 2hr 26min. This is a very good time for a 15.6in notebook (especially a cheap one) and you'll get close to three hours when using it for basic office work or simple Web browsing. It means you can free yourself of cables any time you want to cart the notebook onto your balcony or out to your backyard to watch a movie or do some writing — although you will have to put up with reflections on the screen.
Our verdict is this: if you want to buy a reasonably good looking, sturdy and cheap computer for basic office and multimedia tasks, then you can't go wrong with the HP Pavilion G62-454TU. Its screen can be frustrating to look at sometimes, and its touchpad design isn't very good, but you have the option of hooking it up to a big-screen TV or monitor via HDMI, and you can plug in a mouse, too. It's suitable for families, students and even first-time computer buyers.
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