The HP Pavilion M6-1148CA ($599.99), available in Canada, is a well-rounded Windows 8-equipped laptop that marries a sleek aesthetic with several useful niceties like a large display, full-size keyboard, and roomy hard drive. Although its AMD APU is often outperformed by the Intel-equipped competition, the Pavilion M6-1148CA’s decent feature set, and reasonable price tag partially acquit it of this otherwise major flaw. For the average user who occasionally edits photos or home movies, though, it’s worth checking out, even if it isn’t the best option.
Design and Features
Measuring 1 by 14.9 by 9.8 inches (HWD), the Pavilion M6-1148CA isn’t exactly a petite laptop, but its svelte profile helps reduce unnecessary bulk. Moreover, its weight of 5.02 pounds is relatively light for its size and lighter than competing laptops of equal-size, like the HP Pavilion G6-2368CA (5.08 pounds) and Lenovo IdeaPad N581 (5.71 pounds). Although its underside is a standard black plastic affair, a handsome brushed aluminum finish on the system’s lid and palmrest add a touch of panache to the Pavilion M6-1148CA’s overall aesthetic.
The Pavilion M6-1148CA’s 15.6-inch display has a maximum resolution of 1,366 by 768 is sufficient of supporting 720P content, a useful feature for movie buffs given the fact that the Pavilion M6-1148CA features a tray-loading DVD burner. Outside of movies, the display is easy on the eyes, and its glossy coating lends itself to bright colors and crisp text. The Pavilion M6-1148CA’s speakers and integrated subwoofer, meanwhile, are housed in a horizontal grille directly above the keyboard and sport the familiar Beats by Dr. Dre logo. Although “Beats Audio technology” is often marketed as a groundbreaking auditory experience, in practice it’s just a control panel that features volume boost and an equalizer. Not to say that the Pavilion M6-1148CA’s speakers are disappointing: at maximum volume, Radiohead’s “Idioteque” sounded crisp and distortion-free and was loud enough to fill a medium-sized room. The much-hyped bass, however, wasn’t as nearly as pronounced as I had hoped.
The Pavilion M6-1148CA’s raised tile keyboard offers plenty of space for your hands and even includes a dedicated alphanumeric keypad. Although its keystrokes are somewhat shallow, it’s not enough to pose an ergonomic issue when typing a lengthy email or term paper. The absence of backlighting is a regrettable shortcoming that’s sure to frustrate users who prefer to work in dimly lit environments. The Pavilion M6-1148CA’s touch pad sports a smooth finish and its fluid support for the usual bevy of Windows 8-specific gesture controls, which allows users to intuitively navigate through Microsoft’s latest operating system despite the absence of a touchscreen.
The I/O port selection is solid on the Pavilion M6-1148CA, thanks to its generous offering of three USB 3.0 ports, which is more than either the Lenovo Ideapad N581 (two USB 3.0 ports) and the Samsung Series 3 NP300E5E-A05CA (no USB 3.0 ports). Two of these USB 3.0 ports can be found on the left side of the system alongside full-size HDMI and VGA outputs, Ethernet, and a headphone jack. The right side sports the system’s sole USB 2.0 port, the third USB 3.0 port, and a tray-loading DVD burner. A memory card reader is located in the front of the system. At the same time, though, the Pavilion M6-1148CA’s USB 3.0 ports are marked with tiny “SS” (super-speed) logos rather than the familiar blue color, which may confuse less observant users.
The Pavilion M6-1148CA’s 750GB 5,400rpm hard drive offers ample storage space for your program files and media. It does, however, come with a hefty serving of preloaded software that must be waded through. It ranges from useful (Microsoft Office Starter 2010, CyberLink disc-burning suite) to delete-on-arrival bloatware (WildTangent Games, Microsoft Live Essentials 2011, links to eBay, Netflix). There’s also a large amount of proprietary software by HP (Connected Music, CoolSense, Games, MyRoom, and so on) and trial software (60 days of Norton Internet Security). Accordingly, users who prefer starting with a clean slate should be prepared to devote an afternoon shoveling through the Pavilion M6-1148CA’s preloaded software. HP covers the Pavilion M6-1148CA with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
Although the Pavilion M6-1148CA’s 1.9GHz AMD A8-4500 processor and 8GB RAM churned out respectable scores on our benchmark tests, it had difficulty holding its own against Intel-equipped competitors. Its PCMark 7 score of 1,654 points outperformed the AMD-equipped Pavilion G6-2368CA (1,319 points) but struggled to keep up with the Intel-based systems, like the Acer Aspire V5-571P-6627 (2,301 points).The Pavilion M6-1148CA’s weaker processing speed was also apparent in our Cinebench R11.5 test, where its score of 1.73 points failed to keep pace with the Lenovo N581 (2.49 points) and the class-leading Series 3 NP300E5E-A05CA (3 points).
The Pavilion M6-1148CA performed more competitively in our multimedia tests. It completed our Handbrake video-encoding test in 2 minutes 3 seconds, putting it within striking distance of the Acer V5-571P-6627 (1:57). Similarly, it churned through the dozen or so filters in our Photoshop CS6 test in 7 minutes 38 seconds, or nearly equal to that of the Acer V5-571P-6627 (7:36) but nonetheless significantly short of the Lenovo N581 (5:34) and the top-performing Samsung Series 3 NP300E5E-A05CA (4:35). On the other hand, the Pavilion M6-1148CA landed at the bottom of the pile in 3DMark11, (986 points in Entry-level settings) and showed signs of struggle in keeping up with the rest, like the Lenovo N581 (1,234 points). Overall, the Pavilion M6-1148CA demonstrated a moderate capacity for media creation. You won’t necessarily make a living as a graphic designer with it but can nonetheless still tinker with Photoshop effects and convert movie files.
One area where the Pavilion M6-1148CA performed on equal footing with its Intel-equipped competition was in our gaming test. In both Aliens Vs. Predator and Heaven benchmark tests, the Pavilion M6-1148CA, too, failed to cross the 30 frames-per-second playability barrier.
The Pavilion M6-1148CA landed at bottom in our battery rundown test, where its removable 6-cell 2,800 mAh Li Ion battery lasted for 2 hours 23 minutes, or less than half as long as the class-leading Samsung Series 3 NP300E5E-A05CA (5:11. I If you’re on the market for a system that can last an entire workday on a single charge, the Pavilion M6-1148CA probably isn’t the way to go. At the very least, however, it gives you the option of using a spare battery.
Despite its less-than-robust processing power, the HP Pavilion M6-1148CA’s good feature set helps make it a well-rounded choice. For the average user who occasionally edits photos or home movies, it’s worth checking out. At the same time, however, it’s not the best choice in this price range and prospective purchasers should accordingly explore other options before making a final decision.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the HP Pavilion M6-1148CA
|Processor Name||AMD A8-4500M|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon HD 7640G|
|Processor Speed||1.9 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||DVD+/-RW (Plus Minus)|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||750 GB|
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