Pros: Fast, multi-tasks well, upgradeable, backlit, good graphics
Cons: Mid-grade battery, semi-weak integrated wireless N adapter.
But in this case I think you do. After my Compaq Cq62 decided white was it's favorite screen color after only three years of moderate use I quickly determined to find a replacement that was a bit further up the scale in terms of quality and features. I did an exhaustive comparison of laptops based on features versus price trying to find an acceptable middle ground that didn't include doing without the features I felt were a necessity for the near future.
USB 3.0, quad core processing with a clock speed over 2GHZ and preferably closer to 3, backlit keyboard for low light environments like night time flights, Gigabit ethernet and compatibility with a large amount of RAM were the main features I wanted to see and I was actually rather surprised to find most of the makes and models I investigated had one or the other but seldom both or were way out of the price range allocated by my employer, namely, myself. Then I came across the HP Envy M6. It had all the features I was looking for although the clock speed was slightly lower than I would have liked, but in all fairness, the majority of laptops available had even lower clock speeds including models with i5 and i7 3rd gen processors. Oh, they advertised clock speeds up to 3.5 or similar specs but after some intense scrutiny I found those were burst speeds ( Specs specified speeds UP TO, well, whatever they were up to.) and their average clock speeds were actually similar to the AMD A10 processor that was in this HP model.
Since the M6 also had advertised burst speeds up to 3.2GHZ I decided it was about the best I could find without quickly jumping up dramatically in price. So now I needed to go about finding the model I had settled on at the best price possible and most retailers were asking between $550.00 and $600.00 for it. Best buy had it on sale for $499.00 but they just happened to have an open box display model they were discounting to $450.00 and after a couple of conversations with the manager I nabbed it for $400.00 which I felt was a great deal. Although you probably won't find a deal like that, even at the sale price of $499.00, I would have been happy knowing what I do now regarding it's performance.
What about the performance? It's pretty fast, with little to no lag when opening applications but where it really shines is multitasking. Most computers I've owned would do ok if you had a browser window open and needed to also work on an office document or other standard application, but if you tried burning any kind of media of transfering files, forget it, the lag was intolerable to the point that you were better off just doing one thing or the other. Not the case with the HP M6 Envy. I can open multiple browser tabs, a photoshop or paint shop pro document, office documents and run a system image backup, all while burning media to disk. Sometimes there's a slight lag if I'm doing all or most of those things at once but it never has a stress session or just stops responding while I'm working on multiple resource intensive applications or I/O operations. For me, that's worth the price I paid alone because if I'm burning a disk or transfering large files between drives, I don't want to just sit there staring at the screen while it chugs along or have to go do something else while I wait.
I did upgrade to 16GB of RAM and I'm running a RamDisk which helps to speed up many operations and web browsing but it was very good even with the 6GB of RAM that came installed. The keyboard can be backlit by pushing a function button which as I stated previously is very helpful in situations where it's difficult to see the keys otherwise and it looks fairly cool too. The touchpad is better than most although I mainly use a mouse but on the downside there is no scroll feature to the touchpad so if I'm in a situation where I can't use the mouse it's something that I'd count against it. The keyboard has a ten key numerical pad on the right side, something that not all laptops have, and it's very handy. My Compaq did not have it and I missed it being available. Overall the keyboard has a very solid and professional feel to it, not seemingly an afterthought as with several laptops I've used. I won't go into any aspects of, or arguements with, the included windows 8 operating system, however, suffice to say that once I did away with the metro screen and got my start menu back, I was pleased with the speed at which this laptop runs on the operating system.
Aesthetically, it's fairly nice to look at and is, in my opinion, fairly thin and lightweight when compared to many others out there. The graphics are great and render HD video nicely although if you're a gamer you will want something more specifically intended for gaming. The USB 3.0 and Gigabit LAN really help to speed up file transfers and I/O functions to the point where when I have to use something else now, I get frustrated. It comes with a 750GB hard drive so it might take you a while before you have to look at expanding your storage capabilities, if ever. It doesn't come with the best battery it could have though, it only has a 6 cell 2.8 Ah unit but there are better one's available for it if you find it doesn't last as long as you need. For me, I generally try to use it plugged in when possible but I've left it unplugged and unattended for several hours on a few occasions and it's always still been well charged when I've returned. If you can find a better laptop in this price range, buy it, because I couldn't find one. Overall, I think HP actually got it right on this one and hopefully, although it remains to be seen, it's longevity with hold to the standard it's performance has.
Update: Well, it's been six months so I thought I'd weight in on how things have gone so far. Other than the drivers for the fingerprint scanner constantly needing to be updated due to changes to the windows operating system implemented by Microsoft, which is no fault of the laptop, it's been smooth sailing and performance has been as expected. I still recommend the laptop and give HP high marks for the Envy series of laptops.