HP Envy 14 - a short review

Discussion in 'Portable & Small Form Factor' started by Lucifers Mentor, Dec 21, 2010.

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  1. Lucifers Mentor

    Lucifers Mentor Member

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    The HP Envy 14 started landing on our fair shores recently and as such I felt it was as good a time as any to replace my HP DV5 with something new. Now I've only been using the computer for a few hours now, so this isn't going to be an in depth review, but I figured I'd sketch out my initial impressions for anyone who might be interested.

    If first impressions count, this laptop is an absolute stunner. After tenderly disassembling the beautiful box and removing the provided soft cover carry sleeve, you're left looking at a very nicely textured lid atop a smoothly contoured all metal body. Opening her up, there's a textured palmrest, large touchpad and a chiclet keyboard that, even though it's the same size as that of the DV5, just feels so much larger. And it's amazing to type on, I'm still getting used to it but it already feels like I'm typing faster and more accurately. Probably the placebo affect, but I really do love this keyboard. There's a touch of keyboard flex around the 'p' button, but apart from that, I couldn't possible ask for anything more from it.

    For me, the touchpad is certainly interesting - while its surface area is very generous, part of it is taken up by the buttons, and therein lies the problem. Integrating the buttons into the touchpad surface certainly requires some adjustment in usage style - I've found that I'm unable to rest my thumb on the buttons like I'm used to, lest I cause the mouse cursor to bounce around. That said, I've used the same model touchpad on the DV6 and Envy15 and 17, and while it's similar superficially, the touchpad drivers have been updates to make using it a much more pleasant (and forgiving) experience.

    The model I'm using is the i5-520M with the 14.5" 1600x900 radiance display panel, which, so far, has provided a brilliantly crisp image with no color bleed. The Envy14 does also come in a model with a 1366x768 display, but if you can find someone stocking the 1600x900, it's worth any extra amount of money you might have to lay down. Be aware though - HP apparently encountered supply problems with the 1600x900 screen in the US and eventually stopped stocking them, so I would imagine that there would be a limited supply available in Australia before all laptops sold ended up running with the lower resolution (and less visually impressive) panel.

    The only thing I've really been able to test so far is the audio performance. Now the Envy14 is advertised as having 'Beats' audio (the same people who make those ridiculous 'Beats by Dr Dre' headphones), and is marketed as having superior audio quality, enough to professional edit audio and play movies with the greatest detail. There are two software activated audio modes available, with beats and without. With beats, the audio isn't too bad, but without it has, by far, the worst audio performance I've ever heard coming out of a computer. I know laptops don't exactly have the best speakers ever, but the four previous laptops I've owned/used leave it in the dust. With beats, it's a bit bass heavy, but it's not too bad. I tested it with a few different songs - 'List of demands' by Saul Williams and 'Oppenheimers Brother' and 'First it Giveth' by Queens of the Stone Age - and while bass response isn't too bad, and vocals are crisp, guitar noise just felt like it was getting a bit lost under the beats audio mode. That said, the system does come with a software equalizer, so perhaps a bit of tweaking might yield better results, but out of the box, well, it's not the best. That said, I've heard great things about the audio response using headphones, but I'm currently unable to test that. That said, I have a rather vexing ear infection right now, so take my audio comments with a grain of salt I guess.

    As a final note, the system has, so far, run fairly quietly, and without much temperature build up, besides a slight warm spot in the bottom right hand corner of the palm rest. While some Envy 14 owners have mentioned problems with CPU whir while the computer is whiring (apparently this is a problem with the mobile intel processors) I haven't really fount it to be an issue, there's a faint noise, but it's nothing noticeable.

    I must say I did buy this laptop with some sense of trepidation, due to concerns about switching to a slightly smaller, wide screen display, especially considering the amount of work I'm going to have to do on it over the coming year, but I've been rather won over after a few hours use. I'll see how I feel in a day or so, but so far, so good.
     
  2. Smoke87

    Smoke87 Member

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    14.5" screen even 1600x900 will look like shit in some people's opinion.
     
  3. MikeCheck

    MikeCheck Member

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    Gosh damn I want one so much.

    What kind of battery life do you get off it? Also, what's the weight of it do you know?

    Cheers

    M.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Lucifers Mentor

    Lucifers Mentor Member

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    It's about 2.3kgs, and, well, no idea on the battery life. I'll get back to you on that, it's been hooked up to the wall until about 15 minutes ago. That it's still reporting 100% charge means that either my lappy is lying to me, or that I'll be pleasantly surprised by the battery life.

    Edit: 30 minutes in and I've used 10% of the battery, WLAN on, bluetooth off, screen set at about 60% brightness, GPU off, all the standard HP bloatware left intact, light internet browsing + a touch of screensaver time. At this stage I would expect somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 hours before needing a charge..

    No matter how long the battery lasts though, I'll probably end up buying the battery slice in a few months - doubling the battery life for a paltry thickness penalty doesn't bother me considering that this thing is so much thinner than any other laptop I've ever used.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  5. MikeCheck

    MikeCheck Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Nice to know about the battery life.

    Looking for a replacement for my m1330 and kind of didn't want to go a MBP.

    Mind me asking where you got it from and how much you payed?

    Cheers

    M.
     
  6. mrturkey

    mrturkey Member

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    I have had mine 1002tx i think, same model with the i5-520 and the 1600x900 screen.

    I am extremely happy with mine and upgraded it with a 120gb OCZ vertex2 ssd.

    Battery life is pretty good, 2-3 hrs for web use. Around 2 hrs for WOW use.

    Very snappy performer, like that it is trying to start gtalk before the network is ready, lol.

    Only thing so far, i have keyboard marks on the glossy screen, probably sweat marks and I just need to clean it.

    :thumbup:
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Lucifers Mentor

    Lucifers Mentor Member

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    Yep, same model. I was considering putting an SSD in there, but in the end I don't really need it, so I'm doing without for now.

    I haven't tried playing WoW off the cord yet, but I was finding that I'd get about 3 hours for web use if I included some time watching iView, so similar battery usage to yours.

    One thing I've noticed today though is that I'm getting a bit of fan noise from the right hand side fan - this morning it would just repeat spining up and stopping time and again for about 10 minutes, and then this afternoon it sounds like it's revving pretty heavily and hasn't let up yet. Both times were running on the cord, both with a few tabs of chrome open, the second time with WoW sitting open in the background as well (damn server ques).

    The only design issue I've noticed to date is the stupid positioning of the rear fan outlet - positioning it in a spot where the open monitor impinges upon its ability to vent air is a bit stupid. But that said, it's a minor thing and I'm still really really happy with the unit.
     
  8. MikeCheck

    MikeCheck Member

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    hrrrrmmmm unfortunately, that's just not good enough battery life for my liking and it's alot heavier than I thought it would be.

    Blast! Thought I'd found the perfect laptop but apparently not... I might have to cross the line to Apple after all *SIGH*

    Cheers

    M.
     
  9. Quelch

    Quelch Member

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    Great review :thumbup:

    How much longer would you estimate that the larger battery would last ?

    Fifty percent longer or one hundred percent ?
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Lucifers Mentor

    Lucifers Mentor Member

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    Are you referring to the slice? From what I've heard from others users, it doubles the battery life, as it's effectively another 6-cell battery.
     
  11. DannySR20DET

    DannySR20DET Member

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    I'm in the same situation. It's almost 2 1/2 years since I ordered my M1330, and while it still runs fine, it's time to upgrade. Dell don't seem to have a decent M1330 replacement, so maybe this Envy 14 will be the goods.
     
  12. G-PhresH

    G-PhresH Member

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    Im looking at the refreshed Envy's that HP are announcing at CES.
    Anyone know any details on them?
     
  13. MikeCheck

    MikeCheck Member

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    I doubt it.

    Was having a deeper look around and the Envy is not comparable to the m1330 at all. Much heavier, battery life is much worse and considerably bigger.

    That being said it is much, MUCH faster... but I think a better comparison the the m1330 are the Asus UL30VT or anything in that series (there's a billion different models with different specs).

    Cheers

    M.
     
  14. raz0r

    raz0r Member

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    I have the same config.

    i5-520m
    6gb Ram
    500gb Hd
    Radiance Screen.

    It's an awesome laptop and couldn't be happier with it.

    Word to the wise, don't drop it. I managed to crack my radiance screen a few weeks ago, organising a replacement was hell.
     
  15. niggz

    niggz Member

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    HP Envy 14 (beats edition)

    Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    Intel® Core™ i7-720QM Processor1.6 GHz
    4 GB DDR3 (1 x 4096 MB)
    640 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 5400 rpm
    ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5650 Graphics with 1 GB dedicated
    8-cell Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery
    802.11 a/b/g/n; Bluetooth® wireless networking
    35.6 cm (W) x 23.7 cm (D) x 2.95 cm (min H) / 3.0 cm (max H)
    Starting at 2.58 kg

    either looking at this the XPS 14 or M11x

    have you used it with any games yet? how does the laptop run then? also can you get the slice battery for it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011

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