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August 8, 2012
- Attractive design
- Very lightweight & compact
- Beats Audio
- Solid performance
- Design issue with the lid
- Dim, mediocre display
The HP Envy 4-1030us is a new Ultrabook that caught our eye because of its sleek design, Beats Audio and strong set of internal components. While we were impressed with most of what this new comer had to offer, we were disappointed at a strange design flaw and a poor display.
We usually preface each review of a new Ultrabook with the statement that this market is crowded to the maximum. Everyday now it seems a new one comes out and comes to our door for a review. It's crucial that these new models make a stand for themselves by having something to make them stand out from the rest. This model from HP looks to do this with an aluminum alloy design and Beats Audio.
The design of the HP Envy 4-1030us features a very sleek, modern design. It has a black matte finish on its aluminum alloy exterior and a flashy red finish on the laptop's bottom. It measures 13.4 x 9.3 x 0.8-inches (wdh) and weighs 3.7-pounds, so it's a tad smaller than a few other Ultrabooks and much lighter than the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 and Dell Inspiron 14z by about half-a-pound.
One strange problem we encountered is the lid and that it occasionally gets caught on the back edge of the notebook when you open it. As a result, there's a pop noise that happens and made us wonder how this made it through testing. To be sure this wasn't just a problem with our review unit, we tested out another of the same model at a local Best Buy and the same problem was present.
The 14-inch LED-backlit display has a native resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels but a rather dim backlight. This was definitely evident while watching dark scenes in movies. The overall screen color was mediocre at best as some colors seemed dull and not true. The glossy finish also threw back a lot of reflections from ambient lighting.
For the keyboard, HP chose an island-style layout with keys having a matte, black finish. We experienced a slight amount of flex but the typing experience was overall very good. The keyboard is also backlit with individual LED lights under each key to provide a uniform glow.
The touchpad was adequately sized and is a uniform pad with a click zone at the bottom separated only by a horizontal line. The sensitivity and accuracy of the multitouch pad was very good thanks to the Imagepad HD sensor that HP boosts.
Another selling point that HP uses is the Beats Audio, which includes dual stereo speakers and a subwoofer. In our use, we found them to pump out very loud and clear audio. The subwoofer also provided a surprisingly good amount of bass for an Ultrabook or even a laptop in general.
The port selection on the HP Envy 4-1030us includes two USB 3.0 ports, a charging USB 2.0 port, Ethernet, HDMI-out, the usual audio jacks and an SD card reader.
Our review configuration included an Ivy Bridge Intel Core i5-3317M (1.7GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive with a 32GB SSD cache drive and integrated Intel 4000 HD graphics. Performance with the HP Envy 4 was very good, both in use and in benchmarks. A benchmark using PCMark 7 resulted in a score of 3,859.
For more Ultrabook reviews, visit our Notebook & Ultrabook Reviews page.