HP Envy Sleekbook 6 Review

Regular readers of RefuGeeks will know what we don’t really do many hardware reviews, but last week I treated myself to a new laptop so I thought I’d write a quick review about the device. The laptop I opted for was a HP Envy Sleekbook 6 – it can’t quite be called an Ultrabook as this is a trademark of Intel that requires a device to have an Intel CPU and also an SSD, neither of which the Sleekbook has. So HP decided to give it an alternative name - ‘Sleekbook’.

Specification

So my Sleekbook doesn’t have an Intel CPU or an SSD so what does it have? Well the Sleekbook 6 sports an AMD A6-4455M dual core APU (Aggregated Precessing Unit) with an AMD Radeon HD 7500G within the same chipset - hence the APU title instead of CPU/GPU. It also has 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 5400RPM HDD & finally a 15.6″ 1366×768 LED display. Here is a full list of what the Sleekbook 6 has to offer:

[checklist]
  • Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64
  • AMD Dual-Core A6-4455M 2.6GHz APU processor
  • 6GB memory
  • 500 GB SATA (5400 rpm)
  • 39.6 cm (15.6″) HD BrightView LED-backlit (1366 x 768) Display
  • AMD Radeon HD 7500G Discrete-Class Graphics
  • Beats Audio speaker system
  • Featuring Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HD Webcam & Microphone
[/checklist]

First Impressions

Now I’m not a gamer, I use my machines for blogging, surfing, social networking, email and some small graphic manipulation for the RefuGeeks & DroidHQ artwork. So I don’t really require a powerhouse of a laptop. However, I work a lot on my machines so I do expect them to be snappy.

The look of the laptop is quite frankly gorgeous, with it’s ultra low profile and really light design it’s modern, clean and feels very well built. The casing is made of brushed aluminium and has a red, soft touch case at the bottom. This is a really nice contrast and makes to laptop really stand out from the crowd.

However, the keyboard surround just loves finger prints so after a few hours of usage you will need to get some polish on it if you want it to maintain it’s immaculate look.

Performance

At first I was a little dubious of the AMD A6 APU and almost opted for the Core i3 version, but I decided to take a punt on it – after all, I could always return it if it wasn’t acceptable. I have to say though I’m happy I did. The AMD A6 is a more than capable processor and with it being ultra low power I’m getting around 7-8 hours of usage from a single battery charge.

The first thing I did to the Sleekbook was to remove Windows 7 and replace it with my beloved Ubuntu. I did this with a USB stick as the Sleekbook doesn’t have an optical drive. The performance whilst running Ubuntu is excellent, there is no lag on applications and multi-tasking is absolutely fine. Everything also worked right out of the box.

I wanted more performance though, so I opted to upgrade the 500GB standard hard drive to a 120GB SSD. Because of the slimline look of the Sleekbook I had to get a slimline 7mm SSD which are quite a lot more expensive that standard ones. Here is a link to the one I bought.

Once the new SSD went in and I restored my backup to it the performance was exceptional. From pressing the power button to getting a logon prompt takes around 8 seconds. Opening applications like LibreOffice, Chrome and Thunderbird is practically instantaneous and because there are no moving parts in the SSD, power consumption is decreased which means even more life out of my battery.

What I Don’t Like

The only real bug bearer that was close to being a deal breaker is the screen. It’s a shame to see that there is no HD screen and that it only has a resolution of 1366×768. Whilst this is a perfectly usable resolution and it’s fine for me to work with, HD is almost a standard on screens in our days. Also, with the graphics card being more than capable of handling HD output (I know as I hooked it up to my TV via HDMI) its a real shame to see that a HD screen wasn’t included. However, with the build quality and other components being so good, HP had to save the money somewhere.

The space bar is a real annoyance for me. As you can imagine, I do a lot of typing and most of which is done by touch typing. I keep finding that I have to press down on the space bar with more force than is required on other keys for it to register. This can be quite annoying as I constantly find myself going back a word every now and then to add a space. Whilst not a major issue for me as I tend to look at the screen as I type, this could be a big problem for typists who only look up at the screen at the end of a sentence or paragraph.

Update: The keyboard issue was actually a hardware fault. I’ve since sent the laptop back to HP, the keyboard has been replaced and it’s now perfect.

The final thing I don’t like about the Sleekbook is the touchpad. It’s one of these new fandango ones with a single button integrated into the pad. Much like the Apple ones. It’s multi touch which means that right-click is achieved by tapping the pad with two fingers. This is really taking some time for me to get used to. Luckily, I don’t use the mouse that much as I tend to use the HUD and keyboard short cuts mostly – however, this is still a real pain in the behind to use. Hopefully I’ll get used to it with time though.

Conclusion

The HP Envy Sleekbook 6 is a brilliant mid-range laptop. It has great looks and is well specced for the price. There are some negatives to the device but this is a trade off that I am willing to put up with because of the relatively small price compared to other laptops with similar specifications and looks.

All in all, if you’re after a mid-range laptop that is capable of doing most things whilst looking really good then you should really give the HP Envy Sleekbook 6 some consideration. I’m very happy that I bought it – plus with my HP staff discount, it was a steal. :)

HP Envy Sleekbook 6 Review
User Rating: 0 (0 votes)
  • http://mivoligo.com/ mivoligo

    Thanks for the review. I’ve started looking for new laptop for my wife and this one is on my radar. I wonder what Ubuntu version you installed on it?

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      I’m running Ubuntu 12.04 stock on it. I’ll be upgrading to 12.10 beta 2 in a few days though. Everything works out of the box.

  • mub

    Hey great review! I got an Envy Sleekbook today too. I think I have a different model though, mine came with 8gb RAM. I can’t get it to install Ubuntu 12.04 on it. The installer just crashes after selecting whether I want to install it alongside Windows or by itself. How did you install it?

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      Ubuntu installed faultlessly on my machine. The only thing that I did differently to how you have yours setup is that I don’t dual boot. I only have Ubuntu installed on my device. Maybe the Windows 7 boot loader has UEFI enabled by default or something. I don’t know to be honest with you as I don’t run Windows 7 on the device.

      On another note, how are you finding the space bar? I’m still having problems with it not working very well for the speed at which I type.

  • Alicia

    fyi, I just bought the same computer, the space bar issue bothers me, but I’m the type you described that types a full paragraph without looking up. HP is calling it a hardware problem and they are going to replace it at no cost to me. Just thought I’d share the info in case it starts to bother you.

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      Thanks for the info Alicia. Are they replacing the keyboard or the whole device? I’ll have to give HP a call and get mine replaced to as it’s really annoying.

      • Alicia

        They are shipping me the keyboard. It’s called a “customer replaceable part”. Good luck. :)

  • Linas

    Hi, I keep hearing that HP Envy Sleekbook 6z-1100 is not user servicable (i.e. access to battery, HDD and RAM modules is extremely cumbersom and requires disasembling the laptop to the point of taking out LCD panel).

    But you seem to have been able to replace HDD with SSD. What about access to add another RAM module?

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      I have a different model, mines the 6-1006ea rather than the 6z-1100. However, changing the HDD for an SSD is no more difficult that a normal laptop. You just take the bottom panel off. You do however need to get a slimline 7mm SSD which are quite a lot more expensive. RAM is the same, just take the bottom panel off and the RAM unclips like any other laptop. It’s standard DDR3.

      The battery is attached to the motherboard inside the bottom panel but is just as easily removed once the bottom panel is removed. Basically it’s all extremely simple on my machine.

      • cmorticum

        May I ask how many SO-DIMM slots there are? And can I ask how the APU handles 1080p Youtube videos? Does it stutter? (I´m referring to performance in Ubuntu, and also Windows if you know it.) Thanks!

      • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

        There are 2 DIMM slots. Each can handle 4GB each, they are standard laptop DDR3 slots.

        I’m don’t really watch a great deal of Youtube so I can’t really say. I’ve used the laptop a couple of times whilst connected to my TV via HDMI and it’s been absolutely fine.

        I’ve only used it in Ubuntu, Windows tends to get removed from my machines pretty quickly.

  • Los

    nice review, I have the same laptop – but model 1010ea – running 12.10, but having an issue with the audio being far too low, when compared to running Win7, did you have any issues with Audio (also Video, have to keep pressing the brightness every time loads after log on)?

  • PG

    Can you make a guide or a video for upgrading into SSD? Would really appreciate

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      A guide really isn’t needed, the drive is swapped like any other laptop drive. Just unscrew and unclipped the bottom panel then remove the hdd chassis and replace it with the ssd. It’s very standard, just make sure you get a slimline, 7mm ssd as a normal one won’t fit.

      If you don’t know how to do replace the drive on a laptop then I would suggest you put the laptop into your local computer shop to do it for you just in case you break something.

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  • http://twitter.com/Huntsmen42 Gary McLean

    hi great review iv just got the laptop and im loving it and like your self iv just installed Ubuntu but cant find drivers for the keyboard, graphics card and wireless card did you find them? any help would be great Thanks

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      I didn’t need any drivers. Everything has worked flawlessly out of the box for me. I’m typing this very comment on my Sleekbook :)

  • Boab Haggiston

    Hi I have just ordered this also and wondered if I can install an ssd as well as keep the 500gb hard drive? Thanks

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      No you can’t. The laptop only has one drive bay and you have to ensure that you buy a “slim” 7mm SSD instead of the standard 9mm ones.

  • Vaishali Bhagat

    Very nice review.I like all the features in laptop…but as you mention o HD screen have think before buy this. rest all feature are all very good to buy.

  • Will Robinson

    Hi Kev, Thanks for the review, Do you know if the 1006-ea has a slot for an msata ssd drive, I noticed it is mentioned in the manual but I am not sure if this is just the 4t-1000.
    Will

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      Hey Will,

      No problem, happy to help :)

      I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. From what I can remember it just has a standard notebook sata port. I’ll open my laptop up tonight and double check for you then post back.

  • http://bob.com John

    Great review, thanks for sharing. I have one on order.

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  • boris

    I also have an Envy6, but mine won’t recognize my ssd, ocz vertex 4. Do you have any ideas why it won’t work ? The ssd isn’t defect, I’ve tested it.

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      I don’t sorry Boris. The SSD I installed was plug and play. UEFI maybe?