January 24, 2012
- Many configuration options available
- USB 3.0, Bluetooth & Intel Wi-Di
- Backlit keyboard
- Great performance, including gaming
- Standard screen has a lower resolution
- Choppy multitouch gestures
The HP Envy 15 has been updated with new features that only added to an already great machine. The 2012 refresh adds a backlit keyboard, volume control wheel and more. Performance is really top-notch thanks to the updated Intel Core i5-2450M CPU, 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.
The new Envy models have an aluminum and magnesium chassis that has a dark gray finish against a silver keyboard deck. It looks very similar to Apple's MacBook Pro line of laptops, which is absolutely a good thing. In fact, some people may even mistake it for a MacBook Pro because of its striking resemblance. It measures 14.9 x 9.6 x 1.1-inches (wdh) and weighs 5.8-pounds, which makes it quite portable for a 15-inch notebook.
HP's keyboard is an island-style setup, which is fairly similar to other notebooks out there, especially the previous HP Envy line. Some of the keys are a little on the small side, especially the arrow keys, but for the most part, everything is normal. We found typing to be very comfortable and the keys offered no noticeable flex. HP added individual key LED-backlighting to this new model, which is always a great feature to have.
The HP Envy 15 has a rather large touchpad that is also clickable. It's almost the same size as the pad on the MacBook Pro and it also supports multitouch gestures. However, we found the multitouch gestures to be a little choppy when shown on screen, but we aren't sure if that's an issue with the software or the hardware. We also should note that we experienced the same issue when reviewed the HP Envy 14 this past summer.
During our use, the 15.6-inch LED-backlit display looked quite nice and had a good level of both brightness and contrast. The viewing angles were also really good. We should mention that our review unit had the upgraded screen that had a resolution of 1920 x 1080-pixels, while the standard configuration is limited to 1366 x 768-pixels. This added resolution bump is definitely worth it if you can spend the extra money.
A really unique feature that HP added to this laptop is a physical volume scroll wheel, which is built-into the right edge of the laptop. You can use your finger to dial up or down the volume really quickly and easily. There's also a mute button that sits right under the wheel. Aside from that, the port selection the Envy 15 offers includes two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, a DisplayPort, gigabit Ethernet, two headphone jacks & a microphone jack and an SD memory card reader. HP also supports Intel's Wi-Di wireless display technology with this model. There is also built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity to leave nothing out.
In terms of configuration, HP also gives you lots of configuration options to choose from, especially the CPU, RAM and hard drive. Our review unit had an Intel Core i5-2430M CPU (2.4GHz), 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive and discrete AMD Radeon HD 7690M graphics with 1GB of dedicated video memory. Your other options include three Core i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM and hard drives ranging from 1TB to a 160GB or 300GB solid state hard drive. There is also a SuperMulti DVD+/-RW optical disc drive with an upgrade to a Blu-ray drive also available.
We found performance to be exactly as expected with a midsize laptop of this configuration. Users should expect to receive slightly above-average performance with our Intel Core i5/6GB RAM configuration when compared to other similar 15-inch laptops. However, if you choose to upgrade to an Intel Core i7, more RAM and/or a SSD hard drive, you'll definitely see a noticeable performance boost.
Graphics performance with the AMD discrete graphics surprised us and delivered playable results when it came to 3D gaming, but you may be required to dial down some of the graphics settings on some games to get playable results.
Battery life with the included 8-cell battery delivered just short of 5-hours of life, which is slightly above the 15-inch category average.