HP's Compaq range is aimed at corporate workers and combines sturdy build quality with strong usability. While the 6735s provides powerful graphics performance, it unfortunately falls short of its rivals in many other areas.
Rather than use the same integrated Intel graphics card as all the other machines around this price, HP has used a dedicated ATi chip. This more than doubles the power of its rivals and makes it a good choice for photo and video editing and even basic gaming.
Unfortunately, this is where the power ends, as the AMD processor and 2048MB of memory provide poor office performance. Word processing and internet browsing are possible, but the system immediately lags when running multiple applications simultaneously.
Average mobility is provided by the 188-minute battery life but, as with the other three laptops, the 2.6kg chassis is large enough that you won't want to carry it for long. It is impressively tough, however, and more than resilient enough for regular home and travel use.
The keyboard is equally well made, with large keys and a comfortable typing action. We noticed no flex, even when typing quickly and firmly, and the board is not only responsive but the keys also move quietly at all times. Frequent typists are sure to like what's on offer here.
This machine comes pre-loaded with Windows Vista rather than Windows 7 – Microsoft's latest operating system. Vista is known for its poor quality, so you may want to factor an extra £63 into your budget to upgrade to Windows 7.
Although the 15.4-inch screen lacks the true widescreen aspect ratio, quality is impressive. Images are bright and sharp, with vibrant colours. Black levels aren't as deep as we would have liked, however, leading to darker images appearing slightly washed out.
Storage is capable yet unexceptional. The 160GB hard drive will suit basic use, but both the Lenovo and Advent double its capacity.
A 5-in-1 card reader is fitted at the front of the chassis for accessing data from compact flash storage cards. There is no HDMI port for connecting to an HDTV and it is also missing an integrated webcam which are now common at this price.
Software is also disappointingly lacking, with no tools included for home office use or internet security.
Ultimately, this is what flaws the 6735s. While it is well made with a vibrant screen, great graphics and strong usability, unless you really need the strong 3D power, you will get more for your money by choosing one of the other laptops here.
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