27 January, 2011

HP Envy 14 Review

About a year has passed since HP released its Envy 13 and 15, high-style notebooks aimed directly at Apple's MacBook Pros. We generally liked the designs of these metal-bodied machines, but their high prices and mediocre ergonomics dampened our enthusiasm. Now here comes the Envy 14, which starts at $999 ($1,289 as configured).

HP has tweaked the design by adding an optical drive and a backlit keyboard, but the most intriguing change is the new display size of 14.5 inches. This screen puts the Envy 14 smack dab in between the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook, and its Core i5 processor and ATI switchable graphics offer comparable performance to Apple's premium portables. More imporantly, HP has updated its touchpad so that it's much easier to use. The brilliant Radiance display is ideal for movies and games, and the notebook's Beats Audio is a pleasure for the ears. So is the Envy 14 the complete package we want it to be?

Specifications :

  • CPU: 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-450M
  • OS: MS Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • RAM: 4GB
  • RAM Upgradable to: 8GB
  • Hard Drive: 500GB, 7,200rpm
  • Display: 14.5-inches, 1600x900

Stylistically, the Envy 14 looks the same as its predecessors: it has a taupe aluminum and magnesium body with a paisley-esque etched pattern on the lid and deck. We also like little touches like the backlit HP logo on the lid and the mostly smooth black bottom (where you can attach the optional slice battery).

As it now accommodates an optical drive, the laptop's dimensions-- 14 x 9.3 x 1.1 inches--make it slightly thicker than previous Envys, but it's still easy to slide into a messenger bag. Disappointingly, the Envy 14 weighs even more than the Envy 15 (5.4 vs. 5.2 pounds). While it's a pound heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, it's slightly lighter than the 15-inch MacBook Pro (5.6 pounds). Overall, the Envy 14 doesn't look radically different than the Envy 13, but it's still easily one of the most elegant notebooks on the market.

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