Affordable. Includes multi-function printer. Two-year warranty.
Sluggish performance. Reflective screen. Bloatware.
If you happen to be in the market for both a laptop and a printer, head on over to Costco and check out the HP G42-243CL-B. This reasonably priced ($729.99 list) 14-inch notebook is bundled with an all-in-one inkjet printer and comes with a 2-year warranty. Be forewarned, though: Performance-wise, the AMD Turion-based G42 is an underachiever, and the hard drive is laced with the usual assortment of bloatware.
Weighing in at 4.7 pounds, the G42 is a bit lighter than the Dell Inspiron 14R ($820 direct, ) and a tad heavier than the HP Pavilion dm4 ($905 direct, ). The silver lid and keyboard deck are decorated with a lightly textured diamond pattern and are done up in a matte finish—impervious to fingerprint smudges. The bottom portion of the chassis is matte black.
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Beneath the lid is a full-size black keyboard that's firm and comfortable to type on, but as with most 14-inch laptops, it lacks a dedicated number pad. The touchpad is flush with the deck and uses a single mouse bar, much like Apple's MacBook Pros, rather than two dedicated buttons. The textured finish provides just the right amount of friction for a smooth cursor, but the mouse bar is not very responsive and requires multiple clicks from time to time. A single power button is positioned at the top of the keyboard deck, but there are no dedicated media player controls or volume sliders.
- General Purpose
- Operating System
- Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
- Processor Name
- AMD Turion II Dual-Core Mobile M520
- Processor Speed
- 2.3 GHz
- 4 GB
- 4.7 lb
- Screen Size
- 14 inches
- Screen Size Type
- Graphics Card
- ATI Radeon HD 4250
- Storage Capacity
- 320 GB
- Networking Options
- Primary Optical Drive
- Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
The laptop's 14-inch screen is framed by piano-black trim with a Webcam embedded in the upper bezel. The panel has a resolution of 1,366 by 768 and uses LEDs for backlighting. The screen is nice and bright, but the glossy anti-glare coating produces a mirror effect that can be distracting. I was also disappointed with the display's narrow viewing angle performance. On the up side, the picture was sharp and colors were vivid: My 720p test clip, The Magic of Flight, played smoothly with no visible artifacts. You'll want to keep the audio output at around mid-level though, as the Altec speakers tend to distort when the volume is cranked up.
As with most 14-inch laptops, the G42 comes with 3 USB ports, Ethernet port, and two video outputs (HDMI and VGA). There's also a multi-format card reader and a couple of audio jacks, but you don't get an eSATA port like you do with the HP dm4 and Dell 14R. Also missing is an ExpressCard slot. The optical drive is a DVD+/-RW model, and the 7,200 rpm hard drive provides 320GB of storage, which is adequate but not as spacious as the Dell 14R's 500GB drive. Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) is pre-installed, as are a handful of Cyberlink multimedia programs and the ubiquitous bloatware found on many of HP's consumer laptops. Some of the programs include dozens of games, Ebay adware, and trial versions of MS Office and Norton Internet Security.
The G42-243CL-B is bundled with the HP C4780 printer, which is currently available on HP's site for $69.99, if purchased separately. The C4780 is an all-in-one USB printer with built-in Wi-Fi that prints, copies, and scans. It's housed in an attractive multi-tone black chassis and features HP's TouchSmart Frame, which allows you to view and print photos without having to use your PC. Printer output ranges up to 4,800-by-1,200 dpi (optimized) with scans up to 1,200 by 2,400 (optimized), and the input tray will handle up to 80 sheets of legal- or letter-size paper and up to 30 sheets of photo paper.
The G42-243CL-B is available at Costco where you get a two-year warranty as opposed to the standard one-year plan offered by HP and most other retail outlets. Costco members can also take advantage of Costco's Concierge Service, which provides free troubleshooting and technical support.
The 2.30GHz AMD Turion II P520 is a low-cost dual-core processor, so it's not surprising that the G42 turned in less than stellar results from our benchmark tests. Paired with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, it managed a score of 3,825 on PCMark Vantage. That's significantly lower than the Gateway ID49C07u ($680 street, ) and our current Editors' Choice, the Asus U30Jc-1A ($899 street, ), both of which are Intel Core-i3 based systems. I saw similar results in Cinebench R10: The G42 lagged behind the Intel-based systems by thousands of points. Results from Windows Media Encoder and Photoshop CS4 tests were also at the bottom of the group, but that doesn't mean the G42 can't handle your multimedia tasks—it will just need a bit more time to complete them.
Although the G42 uses an ATI Radeon Mobility HD4250 graphics solution, it's integrated into the AMD M880G chipset. As with Intel's integrated GMA graphics chips, the HD4250 is on the low-end, and helps keep costs down, but lacks the horsepower needed to run the latest crop of 3D games and graphic-intensive applications.
The G42's 6-cell battery lasted 5 hours 6 minutes on the MobileMark 2007 battery test, which is about average for this class of laptop. While it beat the Dell 14R by an hour and a half it couldn't hold a candle to the Asus U30Jc-1A's 8-hour battery life.
The HP G42-243CL-B is a pretty good deal, as long as you can live with sluggish performance and a reflective display. For $730 you get a serviceable, 14-inch laptop, a multi-function printer, and 2-years' worth of warranty protection. If performance is key, the Dell 14R delivers Core-i3 power for around the same price, minus the printer, or you can spend another $170 for the Asus U30Jc-1A and get switchable graphics, superior performance, and 3 more hours of battery life.