Large screen laptop at a budget price
This is a heavyweight but low-cost laptop. Normally when we review laptops with big screens they are quite powerful, but the G72-a10SA is lacking in some respects.
The 17in screen and 3kg weight means it's impractical to put it in a bag to use outside the home or office.
On the inside there is 2GB of memory and a dual-core Intel Pentium P6000 processor that runs at a speed of 1.86GHz.
Those specifications are quite low by modern standards for large laptops. In terms of computing power it's the sort of spec we would expect to find on a high-end netbook.
It included a lot of software pre-installed, but most of this wasn't necessary or even very good. The G72 also comes with the 64-bit edition of the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system. This is a strange choice: it's designed chiefly to take advantage of more than 4GB of memory, but since this model has only 2GB it's a puzzle why HP didn't include the more widely compatible 32-bit version.
There were a few minor annoyances: the keyboard includes buttons to adjust volume and screen brightness but there wasn't an equivalent on-screen indicator. When we adjusted them there was no indication as to how loud it was going or even if it was actually changing.
The touchpad was also a problem: it is integrated into the main case of the laptop but there is no distinction in terms of texture between the touchpad and the rest of the case, which made using it a bit of a chore as we kept trying to use the case as a touchpad.
The laptop itself has a slightly strange bumpy coating. The design is a repeating pattern of lines and triangles, which we didn't particularly like to look at. It's certainly a departure from the standard cheap plastic look of most laptops, but it'll be down to personal taste in the end.
It was also difficult to use the keyboard without also brushing the touchpad with our hands. This meant that when typing in Word we found that the cursor on the screen would occasionally move without warning, meaning we ended up typing all over the document. The keyboard itself was excellent, however, with large, well-spaced keys and even room for a numeric keypad on the right-hand side.
The 17in screen is certainly large but we were disappointed with its quality. Even at the brightest setting it looked dim and washed-out. It certainly wasn't anywhere near as good as the screen on the latest Macbook Pro, for example.
Battery life was unimpressive, lasting around two hours when watching video even with the computer's ‘power saving' turned on.
As you would expect from a larger laptop, it isn't short on connections. There is an HDMI socket for connecting monitors and flat-panel TVs, VGA monitor socket, three USB 2 ports, microphone and headphone sockets, a memory card reader and a webcam with microphone. It connects to both wired and wireless networks and has a Kensington lock socket. There is also a DVD writer and a 250GB hard disk.
The HP G72-a10SA is a fair replacement for a desktop PC. The size, weight and battery life mean it's not portable, but it coped fine with playing DVDs and internet video, as well as general office and internet use. Unlike most larger laptops it's no good for gamers but otherwise it's reasonable value.
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