- ✓Excellent screen
- ✓Usable keyboard
- ✓Attractive price
- ✓Fingerprint scanner
- ✓Available with Windows Vista or XP
- ✕Relatively bulky and heavy
- ✕Lid section could be better protected
- ✕Lacks built-in 3G connectivity
HP's business notebooks come in three flavours — Balanced Mobility, Ultra-Light and High-Performance. The 6715b reviewed here comes under the Balanced Mobility heading. Notebooks in this family are currently available for as little as £345 (ex. VAT); our review model (GB835ET) is slightly more expensive at £555 (ex. VAT), but is still attractively priced.
Despite its 'balanced mobility' billing, this is a sizeable (35.7cm by 26.5cm by 3.5cm) notebook weighing 2.7kg, which places it at the limit of what mobile professionals would be prepared to carry around on a regular basis.
If you do intend to tote this notebook, the solid twin clasps that secure the lid and keyboard sections will be welcome. We noticed a fair amount of flexibility in the screen, and don't recommend any heavy objects to be laid upon the system.
One advantage of this notebook's size is the screen, which is absolutely superb in terms of resolution and image quality.
The display measures 15.4in. across the diagonal and has a native resolution of 1,680 by 1,050 pixels. The screen has a matte finish, so we had no problems with reflection when working with a light source to the rear. The viewing angle is very wide, and all those pixels mean that the screen can display plenty of information.
The QWERTY keyboard is full sized and responsive, which makes it easy to touch-type at speed. The system is wide enough for HP to have inserted a vertical column of function keys for the Home, PgUp, PgDn and End functions; and beneath this column is an inverted-T arrangement of cursor control keys.
A two-thirds size row of function keys sits atop the number row, and above these is a touch-sensitive panel giving access to various functions. At the right-hand end is volume control strip and a mute button. Moving leftwards, there's a button that activates the Presentation Options dialogue box, where you can identify display settings and application options so that the notebook is subsequently ready for presentation duties at the touch of this button.
Next is a button for toggling Wi-Fi on and off. The final touch-panel button opens the HP Info Centre, which is a collection of services, system information and user guides.
The touchpad is large, and incorporates a vertical scroll zone on the right-hand side, which is useful for navigating long documents and web pages.
The HP Compaq 6715b runs AMD’s Turion 64 X2 processor. This is a dual-core processor designed specifically for mobile systems. It runs at 2GHz and has 1MB of Level 2 cache. Our review sample came with 2GB of RAM, which is expandable to a maximum of 4GB. The operating system was Windows Vista Business — although, as noted above, Windows XP is also available.
Graphics are provided by ATI’s Radeon Xpress X1250 chip with up to 512MB of shared memory. Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11a/b/g) is provided by a Broadcom Mini-PCI card, and the wired Gigabit Ethernet module is also from Broadcom. Bluetooth is also integrated, and there's a 56Kbps modem, but sadly this notebook has no built-in 3G/HSDPA connectivity. You'll have to add this via an external PC Card or USB unit if you need it.
There's plenty of storage capacity, primarily in the shape of a 160GB Hitachi hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. There's also a DVD+/-RW SuperMulti Double Layer drive, which can be replaced with other Multibay II-compatible devices if required.
The optical drive is on the right-hand side, where you will also find the RJ-11 (modem) connector, two USB 2.0 ports and a flash memory card slot that accepts SD, MMC, Memory Stick and xD media. On the right edge are two further USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone sockets and a FireWire (IEEE 1394) ports. This edge also houses a Type II PC Card/CardBus slot.
The back of the system is mostly taken up by the 6-cell Li-ion battery, but there's also room for the RJ-45 (Ethernet) connector, an S-Video port and an analogue external monitor port.
The front right-hand side of the wrist-rest area houses a fingerprint sensor — a feature that's becoming increasingly common on business notebooks.
We found the HP Compaq 6715b to be a reliable notebook during the evaluation period. The high-resolution 15.4in. display is a distinct advantage if you'll be using it as a desktop replacement system.
As far as performance is concerned, Microsoft’s Windows Experience Index (WEI) gave the HP Compaq 6715b an overall rating of 3.0 (out of 5.9). This is pretty average, but is actually the lowest of five separate scores and was given to Gaming graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance), and so should not overly concern business users.
The other low score (3.1) went to Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero), which again is something that many business users may not be too worried about.
The remaining component scores were impressive: 4.8 for both Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate) and Processor (Calculations per second). Memory (RAM), which measures memory operations per second received a maximum 5.9 score.
The HP Compaq 6715b is not especially stylish, but business users should rate substance over style — and as far as substance is concerned, this notebook shines.
The display, in particular, is a large, high-resolution and high-quality unit. The keyboard is also comfortable to type on, and there are plenty of connectivity options. The fingerprint scanner is a bonus and the system delivers some solid Windows Experience Index scores.
We’d have liked a little more robustness in the lid section, and integrated 3G connectivity would have been welcome. Still, for the price this is a very good business workhorse — so long as you don’t need to carry it around every day.