Review: HP Envy 15
- — 15 July, 2012 22:00
|Name||Laptop: HP Envy 15|
|At a glance:||15.6-inch 1366x768 LED-backlit display,2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM CPU, 8GB RAM,AMD 7690M 1GB GPU ,750GB, 7200RPM hard drive|
|Summary:||A nice looking, solidly built and powerful machine, but its drawbacks may make a lot of users think twice before purchasing.|
Hewlett Packard has a long history supplying business machines to the corporate world; however, it's been branching more and more into the consumer world over the last few years, and the chic stylings of the Envy 15 attest to that (even if it does look like a carbon copy of the MacBook Pro).
Under the aluminium unibody hood is a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM processor, accompanied by 8GB of DDR3-1333 memory, an AMD Radeon Mobility 7690M 1GB video card (the Envy can switch to low-power onboard graphics), 750GB 7200RPM hard drive and slot-loading DVD-RW drive. It has a good compliment of inputs and outputs too – HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0 and 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, SD/MMC card slot, microphone input and two headphone outputs (a unique feature among all the laptops we received for testing in our 2012 multimedia laptop roundup).
The dual headphone outputs follow the Envy’s audio theme. The speakers are ‘Beats’ branded and there are six speakers plus a subwoofer packed into the casing. Best music I’ve ever heard coming out of a laptop? Yes. Did that make it an enjoyable experience? No. The physical volume wheel and mute button was a nice change from the usual method of locating the right function key though. ‘HP Wireless Audio’ sounds useful too – sadly, compatible wireless headphones are few and far between so we weren’t able to test this.
Missing from the audio spectrum is a digital audio output (unless you count HDMI), which would make gigging with the unit a bit painful. The screen resolution (1366 x 768) would also restrict how many things you can see on-screen at once in music production applications such as Reason.
Looking at the performance stats, the Envy 15 stacks up quite well. It had top-three finishes in every test except for x264 HD movie encoding (although that was a close race and it performed outstandingly in MediaConverter7 HD movie transcoding) and the gaming benchmarks. It was also one of only two machines that came configured correctly to enable Intel’s QuickSync encoding feature, which explains the quick hardware-accelerated transcoding time.
Battery life is also excellent, lasting a respectable 1 hour and 31 minutes in Battery Eater Pro’s punishing ‘Classic’ torture-test and over 5 hours in the more reasonable ‘Reader’s’ test.
The good news pretty much finishes there, however. The Envy 15 suffers from multiple shortcomings, primarily with the 15.6-inch LED-backlit LCD screen. Vertical and horizontal viewing angles are just plain terrible, so plan on sitting front and centre for a decent image. Even so, don’t expect to see a lot of detail in dark areas of images or to get acceptable colour accuracy without significant re-calibration. The screen also has a glossy finish, which makes daylight viewing a challenging affair. I found it had excessive glare.
The unit pumps out its fair share of heat and noise; that could be distracting in certain situations, but it was not as loud as its equivalent Acer or Apple models. Fortunately, the underside of the machine never became unbearably hot.
Finally, the left and right touchpad buttons require a tad too much pressure for my liking, plus they are touch-sensitive like the rest of the touchpad which resulted in all sorts of onscreen foibles – poor design in my opinion.