August 8, 2011
- Solid design
- Very good battery life
- USB 3.0 & dual-graphics
- Touch pad issues
- High-gloss display
The Summer 2011 update to the HP Envy 14 provides new internals, including a second-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, USB 3.0 and a new multitouch touch pad. It has a sleek appearance that rivals the Apple MacBook Pro line, but it's not without its flaws.
The HP Envy 14 is made of the same aluminum and magnesium that previous models were and it has a metal-gray color against a black base. There's also the same square pattern that flows across the keyboard deck and lid. In total, it measures 14 x 9.3 x 1.1-inches (wdh) and weighs 5.3-pounds. This size and weight makes it compact and portable, so there's no worries about having to carry it around during a long day's work despite weighing a little bit heavier than similar notebooks.
The keyboard sits slightly sunken into the deck and the keys are flat and well-spaced. We found it a little strange that there's no dedicated media or quick-launch buttons, but the function keys do double as them. The keyboard seems to be well-designed and provided a pleasing typing experience with no complaints. The keys are also backlit, which is a nice added touch.
HP includes a brand new multitouch touch pad, which is a welcomed addition because previous HP Envy 14 models didn't have multitouch capabilities. This new touch pad is oversized and is similar to the Apple MacBook touch pad. You get all the same multitouch abilities, but we found the sensitivity to be a little off and lacking. Also, the pad doesn't depress everywhere, so making a physical click of the pad requires you to do it near the pad's bottom.
The 14.5-inch LED-backlit widescreen display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels, which is the usual resolution on this size notebook. The screen is quite glossy, so it picks up a lot of glare, but colors do look extremely vibrant.
The port selection on the HP Envy 14 includes one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI-out, mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet, the usual audio ports and an SD card reader. We really appreciated the USB 3.0 port, which was missing on previous HP Envy 14 models. The mini-DisplayPort output also gives you some more flexibility and functionality, which is always a good thing.
Internal specifications include a second-generation Intel Core i5-2410M CPU (2.3GHz), 6GB of DDR3 RAM, a 750GB 5400RPM hard drive and ATI Radeon HD 6630 graphics with 1GB of dedicated video memory. These specifications are a little flexible and can include a 500GB hard drive, Intel Core i7 CPU and/or a solid-state hard drive. There is also 802.11b/g/n wireless connectivity built-in and a slot-loading SuperMulti optical disc drive.
The graphics system is switchable, meaning that it uses a graphics switching system to allow users to switch between the discrete ATI HD 6630 graphics system when more performance is needed and the Intel HD integrated graphics when not needed. The way the HP Envy 14 does this isn't as nice as the Nvidia Optimus system, which does it automatically, but it still does the job. It is especially nice for giving users more battery life because the integrated graphics uses much less power than the discrete graphics.
Performance with the HP Envy 14 is quite admirable, but not the best out there. Multitasking and watching HD video was no problem for this laptop, however, and gave us good results. Gaming was rated good, but only with the discrete graphics enabled.
Battery life is very good at about 5-5.5 hours of life, but this is while using the integrated graphics. Expect to get about 1.5-2 hours less if you use the ATI HD graphics instead.