As well as the Beats tools, HP bundles more useful software than usual. new color beats studioThe antivirus is Microsoft Security Essentials; excellent software that doesn\'t slow your PC down the way many AV tools do. You get the now-ubiquitous Office Starter but instead Windows Live HP includes Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 8, Cyberlink DVD Suite to play movies, and customisation tools from Stardock. These are very welcome on netbooks with Windows 7 Starter because they let you change the desktop, but we\'re not sure how much you need them with Windows Home Premium; HP does supply a Beats skin that changes the taskbar, start menu and desktop icon layout that keeps the look of the design.
Especially if you\'re writing and mixing music, it\'s nice to see the slot-load DVD±RW. There\'s a reasonable selection of ports; three USB ports, including one that doubles as an eSATA port for connecting fast external drives, HDMI and mini DisplayPort plus Ethernet and two headphone sockets (one of which works with a headset microphone). You don\'t get the new USB 3.0 ports, which are likely to replace eSATA in time and there\'s no option for a Blu-ray drive. We\'re a little surprised that a laptop aimed at audio enthusiasts doesn\'t have an analogue audio input, SPDIF audio out or any other specialist options. There\'s a memory card slot at the front and the system comes with a 2GB SD card for the manual. For once we\'d agree with a manufacturer when they call the webcam HD; this could be the best notebook webcam we\'ve used. Colours are bright and accurate, colour balance is good and detail is crisp.That unusually uncluttered keyboard layout looks good but it has disadvantages. Having an usually small left Shift key and the backslash and hash key next to keys you press frequently (left Shift and @) makes for a few more mistypings than usual and seems to sacrifice efficiency for style. The “b” key has the stylised Beats logo on it instead, which you\'ll either find cool or confusing. The vertical row of Delete/Home/Pg Up/Pg Down and End keys looks neat but it makes it easy to confuse the small Delete key with Home. The keys are large, the action and travel is good - but it\'s definitely style first and efficiency second here. beats pro cheapPlus the function keys are crammed with so many marginally useful tools like bringing up Windows Help, your browser and the dialog to extend onto a second screen that there\'s no room for multimedia player controls, which is an odd decision for so multimedia a notebook
The trackpad has the same widescreen ratio as the screen, which makes sense; but it\'s also placed nearly an inch up from the edge of the case and we sometimes found ourselves trying to click the wrist rest instead of the button, so we\'d rather have had a larger area even if it wasn\'t in proportion. We like that you can double-tap the indicator light in the corner of the trackpad to turn it off or back on (although a button might be clearer).The keyboard has a satin finish on the keys with matching red lettering (and a warm red backlight behind the keys for use in dark studios) and it\'s a clean and uncluttered layout, without only the power button and none of the usual spattering of buttons, indicator lights and stickers to spoil the look. Even the base is unusually clear and good-looking, with a sliding latch to release the battery and a single neat cover that you can unscrew if you want to add memory (up to 8GB total) or replace the hard drive. The Windows logo is under there too (in matching red), and the connector for the optional slab battery; read on to discover why that’s one accessory you might want to order.
hash key next to keys you press frequently beats pro cheap