This 15.6-inch AMD-powered notebook is 8/10ths of an inch thin, weighs less than five pounds and gets almost eight hours of battery life. That's mighty impressive ... but read our review to find out what we don't like.
It's impossible to discuss HP's Sleekbook family of thin-and-light laptops without mentioning the obvious comparison to ultrabooks. Without getting too caught up in marketing details, the term "ultrabook" applies to a specific category of thin-yet-powerful notebooks that follow a very specific set of technical guidelines from Intel regarding components, physical dimensions, battery life, as well as startup and system resume times. The HP Sleekbooks might clearly have some design similarities to ultrabooks, but they are not ultrabooks.
Build and Design
The HP ENVY Sleekbook 6z (also called the Sleekbook 6z-1000) is one thin and light notebook; it's about two-thirds the height and weight of a normal 15.6-inch notebook at just 0.78 inches and 4.75 lbs. Despite that, it's still a 15.6-inch notebook and therefore its portability is limited. This notebook is more about form than function.
The brushed aluminum exterior looks classy and I especially like the velvety-feeling of the red soft-touch paint finish on the bottom. I like how the thin speaker grille is placed just below the lid. One last aspect I like about the design is the minimal amount of glossy plastic; there is only some around the screen bezel.
The build quality is solid; the chassis has a minimal amount of flex which is commendable given the thinness. Even the lid barely flexes and no ripples appear on the back when pressed in on.
Something the Sleekbook 6z lacks is upgradeability; there are no user-accessible service panels anywhere on this laptop. The chassis of the notebook would have to be completely disassembled in order to gain access to the hard drive and RAM. The battery is also not user-changeable (which might not be a big deal given the long battery life, as we'll see later).
The reality is most consumers never upgrade or service their notebooks, but this might be something a serious PC user cares about.
Ports and Features
One thing the Sleekbook 6z isn't light on is ports; it packs three USB ports (two of which are USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports), HDMI, a media card reader, and Ethernet. All the ports are located on either the left side or right side of the notebook since the front and back edges are too thin for ports. Despite the thin profile the only feature this laptop lacks that might be an issue for some users is an internal optical drive.
Left: Ethernet, HDMI, 2x USB 3.0, media card reader, status lights
Right: Kensington lock slot, headphone and microphone ports, USB 2.0 (powered), AC power jack
Screen and Speakers
The screen is unfortunately mediocre as are most 15.6-inch screens with a 1366x768 resolution. It's bright enough but simply lifeless; colors are washed out and contrast is not deep enough (black levels look more gray). The viewing angles leave a lot to be desired as well; it's especially narrow vertically. A higher resolution option would be greatly appreciated as there's not enough room with a 1366x768 resolution to use two windows side-by-side.
The two Beats-branded speakers above the keyboard are small but placed right and project sound upwards towards the user; this is much better than being situated beneath the palm rest like most ultrabooks. There is little bass to speak of although there is a third small speaker sealed inside and located in the bottom of the laptop. The sound isn't as rich as a multimedia notebook like the HP ENVY 17, but the speakers on the Sleekbook 6z are a step up from typical budget notebook speakers.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is frankly one of the worst I've used in terms of feel. The tactile feedback is abysmal; the key travel is almost nonexistent and feels cheap. This is one of the few notebooks I've reviewed where I opted to hook up an external keyboard to write the review rather than use the notebook's built-in one. I noticed the space bar had issues registering on the right side -- and surprisingly I noticed this with another HP notebook I bought recently for personal use. The Sleekbook 6z's keyboard inspires no confidence. It is available with a backlit keyboard so hopefully that's a vast improvement over this.
I can't complain about the touchpad on the other hand; it is a clickpad, meaning the entire surface acts like a button -- just press down. To my surprise I had no accuracy problems and the clickpad takes just the right amount of effort to press, which hasn't been my past experience with clickpads. It also has a great textured surface and makes relatively quiet clicks.
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