Like many laptop makers, HP's current obsession is for super-slim ultrabook machines that are so skinny and light you could skim them across a lake. But the company hasn't forgotten about good ol' regular-sized laptops, showing off the new 15.6-inch HP Pavilion m6. But does this mid-range marvel have the power to hold its own against a wave of ultrabooks?
I've been hands-on with the Pavilion m6, so read on for a fistful of first impressions. The m6 is due out in the UK at the end of July, starting at £599.
While it's not technically an ultrabook, the m6 is no monster. It sports a reasonably slim chassis and feels light enough to carry around all day without too much strain. The look of this laptop is similar to the recently-unveiled HP Envy Ultrabooks and Sleekbooks, but there are some minor differences.
There's a fingerprint reader over on the right, for example. The keyboard and trackpad are different too -- we'll get to them in a minute. The m6's chassis is black and sports a brushed metal effect that looks neat, but clashes with the black plastic gloss that surrounds the screen.
Audio comes courtesy of Beats, though unfortunately I didn't get a chance to put the m6's speakers through their paces. Don't expect much -- laptop speakers generally sounds tinny regardless of who's providing the hardware, but previous HP efforts with Beats have featured special sound programs or Windows themes so don't be surprised if there are a few software surprises in store.
The Beats tie-in means there's a little lowercase 'b' on the speaker grille -- how chuffed you are about that will depend on your feelings toward the hip-hopping audio brand. There's a bit of flair elsewhere, with silver trim around the edge of the lid, and that grey-ish hue is also present on the bottom of the chassis.
All things considered, this design makes a decent first impression. It's far from ugly, though it's on the plasticky side, and doesn't feel as sturdy as the aluminium-addled Envy Spectre XT.
Hardware and battery
HP promises the m6 will play host to "the latest Intel and AMD processors", while the model I was toying with featured a 750GB hard drive. Discrete graphics are an option if you plan on performing more intensive tasks like gaming or photo editing. The 15.6-inch display crams in a respectable 1,366x768 pixels, and there's a DVD drive squeezed into the m6's right flank.
Increasingly laptops are shedding disc drives, prioritising a slim build instead, but if you have a big DVD collection you may appreciate the option to pop in a disc.
Next to the disc drive are two USB ports, while over on the left you get Ethernet, HDMI and VGA out, a 3.5mm headphone jack and two more USB sockets. There's a webcam above the monitor for video calls.
HP promises up to eight hours of battery life -- we'll be putting that claim to the test when we give the m6 the full review treatment.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on the m6 is quite large, and even though the laptop isn't that massive HP's squeezed in a number pad. Handy perhaps -- though the 'Enter' key on this laptop is looking worryingly small -- that'll doubtless see you making the odd mistake as you rattle off emails. A backlight is optional should you want to type in the dark.
The trackpad doesn't have the eye-assaulting disco effect present on some of HP's other new machines. Instead your eyes and digits are treated to a more standard black trackpad.
A very promising sign is that the click buttons seem to be separate from the touch-sensitive portion of the trackpad. HP has a nasty habit of incorporating buttons into its trackpads, which means you often end up nudging the cursor off course when you try to click.
There's not much about the m6 that's likely to get your blood pumping, but if the decent design is matched by solid performance and battery life, this could prove a dependable laptop. Starting at just shy of £600 it's at the upper end of the mid-range scale, so we'll be looking for plenty of processing grunt and impressive battery life when it comes to the full review.
Editors' note: Luke Westaway saw the HP Pavilion m6 at an HP event in Shanghai. His flight and accommodation were paid for
by HP, but the company had no input into the content of this