This big guy packs a lot of great specs, including an Intel i7 quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB of hard drive space, a CD/DVD drive, a full HD touchscreen, and even a fingerprint scanner. It is for $999Much. In fact for the same price you can getHP Spectre 13An ultrabook that has a weaker processor, half the RAM and a fraction of the storage space – but is very portable.
The 17-inch Envy is an absolutely rugged machine, but you'll break a sweat trying to carry it around. Yes, it is heavy and made of a lot of plastic. But as a home computer for the whole family? You can't go wrong.
See and feel
Large laptop with all components
The HP Envy 17-inch is the sports car of laptops: it's big and comfortable.
From above, the Envy looks like little more than a large piece of plastic. HP has chosen not to dress this portable desktop with a full metal jacket. The cover feels plastic, although for $1000, what did you expect? The builders clearly cared more about specs than looks when building this Envy - there's nothing like the class and compact design you'll find atHP Spectre 13, For example.
Lift the lid and you've got a full-sized keyboard that's a joy to type on. The keys are perfectly sized for a satisfying ride, as is the numeric keypad on the right. My only complaint is quality: every time I pressed a key, the base wobbled a little. I doubt I've ever broken a keyboard while typing myself, but it's not reassuring to see a laptop bend so easily.
Below the keyboard is an oversized touchpad with one caveat: it doesn't flush with the bottom of the Envy. You can put a coin under the touchpad and peel it off - an odd design choice to say the least. This may not go down well with your kids and their graham cracker crumbs.
HP put a fingerprint scanner in the Envy, and it actually works.
Regardless, this pillow works very well. While most companies try to make their touchpads silky smooth, HP has opted for a texture with small bumps. The result is actually quite nice: your finger can slide smoothly across the surface, but with extra control thanks to the bumps. Unfortunately, I had to press too hard when I triggered the mouse click.
There is a thin black bar on the right side of the touchpad that looks like a light. HP put a fingerprint scanner in the Envy, and it actually works. It's a great addition to any computer, but the software that comes with it is confusing – more on that later.
Connectivity options abound in the Envy. Want USB 3.0 ports? This computer has four of them. You'll also find a full-size HDMI output, an SD card reader and a headphone jack.
A tempting addition to the Envy is the CD/DVD player. While the world seems to be moving away from physical media, there are still many consumers who buy CDs and DVDs. Unfortunately, this unit doesn't play Blu-ray, which means you can't take full advantage of this HP's 1080p display.
The only thing that separates the keyboard from the screen is the Beats Audio speaker. As with the Specter 13, the audio quality on the Envy is actually better than most other laptops. Bass frequencies are easier to hear and loud enough to fill a small room. While this Beats-branded speaker isn't a replacement for a decent 2.1 setup, it sounds good enough to meet the needs of most consumers.
Finally, we have the 17-inch Envy touchscreen. HP wisely gave this large display a resolution of 1080p - you'd notice the lack of sharpness if it was lower. Combined with a moderately bright screen, users will enjoy the visual performance of this laptop. Feel free to reach out and interact with the Envy screen, too: the touch buttons are precise and responsive.
If ultrabooks had feelings, they'd be jealous.
The HP Envy TouchSmart 17 has a secret weapon: the quad-core Intel i7 processor. At $999.99, this laptop gives you more power than most consumers need.
How powerful is he? Let's compare it toHP Spectre 13which has a dual-core i5 processor and the same price:
- When converting a .MOV file to an .MP4 file, the Envy did the job in 65.31 seconds. HP Specter 13 took over 4 minutes.
- After receiving an Excel spreadsheet with complex formulas, Envy calculated them in just over 4 seconds. Specter took almost 6 seconds to do the same.
- When you play the gameMetro: 2033at high settings, the Envy averaged 8.33 fps compared to 6.59 in the Spectre.
HP's desktop replacement is proof that consumers pay more for mobility than power. In almost every test, it beat the results achieved by ultrabooks. That said, all is not better for the Envy.
The hard drive in this laptop is a 1 TB model clocked at 5400 RPM. In layman's terms, it can hold a lot of things, but it's very slow. Therefore, it takes a little longer to launch programs on this computer than on an ultrabook with a solid state drive. When Envy finally launches the program, it runs smoothly and quickly, but the time it takes to open this program can sometimes prove annoying.
HP's desktop replacement is proof that consumers pay more for mobility than power.
For a large laptop, it at least has decent battery life. I clocked just over 6 hours of web browsing at 50% background brightness. While almost any current ultrabook will carry a larger charge, I can't imagine carrying the 17-inch Envy and relying on its battery.
What about WiFi performance? The Envy provides excellent reception and can connect to networks in the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band. I was able to achieve speeds in excess of 10Mbps when downloading games from Steam - something not all laptops can achieve.
Do you want security? HP has it.
The Envy comes with Windows 8.1, which is easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. While you are free to download programs as you see fit, HP has packed a handful of them into this PC. Joy.
Most of the apps that come preloaded on Windows laptops are bloatware or programs you'll never use. Unfortunately, many of this HP's apps fall into this category.
HP Envy TouchSmart 17 home screen
WildTangent is a portal to buy games, although it is better to download Steam.
The HP Envy TouchSmart 17 comes with 50GB of free storage in the box.
HP Connected Music no longer exists, although Beats Music should have been included.
SimplePass is HP's fingerprint scanner software, and while it's a bit confusing, it works.
Visit the gallery again
glide1from 5HP Envy TouchSmart 17 home screen
glide1from 5WildTangent is a portal to buy games, although it is better to download Steam.
glide1from 5The HP Envy TouchSmart 17 comes with 50GB of free storage in the box.
glide1from 5HP Connected Music no longer exists, although Beats Music should have been included.
glide1from 5SimplePass is HP's fingerprint scanner software, and while it's a bit confusing, it works.
Take the WildTangent Games app for example. WildTangent is basically a site for buying and downloading video games...that I've never heard of. If you are going to play computer games, you will enjoy themTowhich has an unrivaled selection. Yes, there are real Steam competitors, but WildTangent is not one of them.
Like the HP Specter 13, the Envy comes with 50GB of free cloud storage with Box. If you know how Dropbox works, you'll feel right at home with Box. 50GB is a significant amount of space, so if you're unsure about other cloud storage platforms, try Box.
With SimplePass, you can log into Windows by scanning your fingerprint instead of entering your password.
Like the Spectre, the Envy comes with HP Connected Music software pre-installed. It was HP's proprietary music store and its interface was terrible. Now when you launch the app, it asks you to download Beats Music – presumably because of HP's partnership with Beats. If you're not familiar with Beats Music, it's like Spotify: a subscription-based music streaming service.
The biggest software contributor to Envy is SimplePass, an app related to the fingerprint scanner. With SimplePass, you can log into Windows by scanning your fingerprint instead of entering your password. it also allows you to do the same for websites. In my time with the Envy, the scanner was accurate and valuable for security reasons. However, the software is a bit confusing.
I was about to remove SimplePass for use on the website, but then the problem became clear: SimplePass only works with Internet Explorer, which I have never found anywhere. Once I realized this, SimplePass became much more attractive. By scanning your finger at any time, you can see the list of websites you have connected to using the software. This basically bookmarks any site that requires a password and is something I could use. And yes, you can add multiple fingerprints to SimplePass.
Big body, big power - big pandas
If you buy a 17-inch laptop, you probably don't plan to take it with you everywhere. The HP Envy TouchSmart 17 is the perfect companion for this type of consumer. During testing, this $999.99 platform blew me away. I didn't expect it to perform as well as it did without the solid state drive, nor did I expect it to get 6 hours of battery life. For a big one, you have a lot of computer - literally.
My only complaints are the overly plastic build and slow loading of this HP. While nothing can be done about its build quality, the light at the end of the tunnel is the loading times: once programs are loaded, they run flawlessly.
The HP Envy TouchSmart 17 would make a great family PC—that is, if you're not into the idea of a real desktop PC. It's powerful enough for an entire household and portable enough to take on holiday. This computer is a real crowd pleaser and at a relatively low price, what more could you ask for?
Meet the controller
A technology enthusiast, Josh is one of Reviewed.com's TV experts. When he's not staring at bright TV screens in a dark room, he's probably flipping through his laptop or finding a new 7-11 snack.
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