Tag: HP Envy

Serious challenges to Apple from the Windows and Android front


Sony Vaio Pro 13 Ultrabook v Apple MacBook Air For Photographers

My Comments

Previously, Apple had a stronghold on computing for the creative industries with most of their Macintosh computers. This was even since the Macintosh platform was launched where these computers with their graphical-user-interface being run alongside a laser printer brought in the concept of desktop publishing.

Similarly, they had a few years cornering the mobile computing platform with their iPhone and iPad devices. It also included capturing the premium “stylish computing” market with their MacBook Air and, in some cases, the MacBook Pro laptops.

Now a few computing devices and platforms are challenging Apple in a lot of these fronts. Over the last year, Samsung, HTC and Sony have fielded some very impressive highly-capable smartphones that have put the iPhone on notice like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4. These phones also show an impressive “cool” style about them as well as the phones being able to take as good an image as an Apple iPhone.

As for mobile tablets, the 7” coat-pocket tablets like the Google Nexus 7 have created a distinct market niche which Apple couldn’t successfully fill with the right device. Similar, Sony had tendered the XPeria Z which has come close to competing with the iPad as far as 10” tablets are concerned.

HP Envy 15-3000 Series laptop

HP Envy 15-3000 Series Beats Edition multimedia laptop

Over the last few years, there have been a number of laptops and notebooks that have answered the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air in many ways. For example, the HP Envy 15-3000 which I previously reviewed provided a construction look and feel that is very close to the MacBook Pro series of laptops. Lately, Sony fielded the VAIO Pro 13 which is a Windows 8 Ultrabook that has been described in a review by “The Age” as having a photo-grade display and is capable of answering a similar-size MacBook Air as a portable workflow computer for a professional photographer. Here, this one implemented a highly-controllable Full HD display which was able to yield the proper colour temperature for photography.

Toshiba Satellite P870 desktop-replacement laptop Harman-Kardon speakers

Harman-Kardon speakers to give this laptop full sound

As well, companies who have a strong presence in the recording and reproduction of music are becoming involved in the quest for improved sound quality in Windows-based laptops. Examples of these include Beats by Dr Dre working with HP to provide improved sound for HP Envy laptops; premium Toshiba laptops being equipped with Harman-Kardon speakers and ASUS laptops having Bang & Olufsen sound tuning. Who knows what would be happening soon with even the conversion of audio signals between the digital and analogue domains being worked on so as to provide a line-level sound quality equal to or better than the Apple MacBook Pro.

Of course, the Windows and Android equipment have supported an “open-frame” operating environment for both the hardware and software where common standards set by industry groups have been respected. For example, the Android smartphones use MicroUSB as a power / data connection, it is easier for users to gain access to the files held on their Windows or Android devices, and users can integrate an Android or Windows device to a Wi-Fi wireless network at the touch of a button using WPS setup.

What I do see is that regular and mobile computing is swinging from Apple being considered the “cool kid” for both these applications to a situation where they are considered a has-been.

Product Review–HP Envy 120 Multifunction Inkjet Printer


I am reviewing the HP Envy 120 multifunction inkjet printer which is the latest in HP’s “Envy” range of designer slimline multifunction printers. This unit has the same pedigree as the HP Envy 100 printer which I previously reviewed, where it implements a low-profile auto-duplex inkjet print mechanism in a very stylish cabinet reminiscent of home audio and video equipment.

But this model has had a few changes like face-up scanning with a clear glass lid for previewing your originals as well as a swing-open panel for the USB socket and memory card slots. This is alongside the idea of having it finished in an “all-black” housing.

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Ink-jet Resolution HP ePrint receive, Scan-to-email 802.11g/n WPS Wi-Fi wireless
Auto-duplex Face-side-up scanning with preview window UPnP Printing



The machine’s standard price: AUD$329

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$25 200 AUD$48 600
Colour AUD$30 165 AUD$56 440


The printer itself

Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer printing a document

The Envy 120 printer when it is printing

Like the rest of the HP Envy printer series, this model conveys the kind of operation you would expect from high-end audio and video equipment like the classic Bang & Olufsen Beosystem 5000 Series hi-fi systems. For example, when a document is being printed, the front panel swings up and a small bar comes out in anticipation of that printed document. Then, when you collect the document, the front panel swings down.

Similarly, when you need to load paper in to the printer, you touch the “eject” button on the front and the paper drawer comes out in a manner not dissimilar to a CD player’s disc drawer. Then, when you have loaded the paper, you either touch the “eject” button or push the drawer slightly to close the paper drawer.

Walk-up functions

The printer is able to copy documents placed in the scanner area or print from memory cards or USB memory sticks using the touchscreen control panel. As well, you can use the HP ePrintCenter functionality to print out a wide range of documents ranging from notepaper to newspapers or comics.

It also works with the HP ePrint “email-to-print” function but also has a “scan-to-email” function which is infact an HP ePrintCenter app. This isn’t dependent on the machine knowing a POP3 or IMAP4 email service but through HP’s ePrint service. When you first set this feature up, you would need to enter your email address in to the printer’s control panel whereupon it would send you a PIN number via email. You enter these details in to the printer and can have them stored there. Subsequently, when the printer shows the “sender and recipient” screen, you can touch the “Modify Recipient” button to determine a different recipient. The documents can be sent as a JPEG or single-page PDF.

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer card reader and USB port

The USB port (where you can charge smartphones) and the memory card slots behind a swing-down door

The USB socket that is used for walk-up printing from  and walk-up scanning to USB flash drives and similar devices also has been optimised as a device-charging socket. If you connect a smartphone, external battery pack or similar gadget to this socket, it will supply power to the device in order to charge it or avoid compromising the device’s battery runtime. This even happens when the printer is turned off using the on-off button on the front, This socket, along with the SD card slot that serves the same purpose of walk-up printing and scanning is hidden behind a hinged door on the front of the Envy printer.

Mobile-device functions

The HP Envy 120 works properly with the iOS and Android mobile devices using AirPrint (iOS only) or the HP ePrint app for both platforms. This app can work from JPEGs, PDFs or text files and can allow the printer to print both sides for multipage documents.

It does also support UPnP-Print for those devices that are willing to exploit this standard for network-based driver-free printing. At the moment, we don’t see any consumer devices on the market that are willing to exploit the UPnP-Print function but this could be relevant to cameras or interactive-TV applications.

Computer functions

I loaded the latest full-function driver software from HP’s Website and this loaded and installed very promptly without issues.

There is a problem that if the PC comes out of “hibernate mode”, it takes a bit too long to discover the printer on the network for scan-to-PC operation and shows up an error message as if the printer wasn’t there. But it can scan to the computer properly.

For printing, the print driver was very responsive and didn’t show any extra unnecessary information through the print process.

Print quality

The HP Envy 120 was able to turn out documents with a similar quality to other consumer inkjet printers. But when it comes to photos, it can lose a bit of the definition compared to the original Envy 100. Here, it also yields darker images with reduced contrast. Of course, this wouldn’t be a match with the Photosmart printers which yield higher photo quality for HP’s consumer inkjet printers.

When the Envy 120 prints on both sides of a page, there is a slight shift between the front and the back of the page. This can be annoying if you are using this feature for desktop-publishing especially with luggage labels and similar odd-shaped documents.


HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer see-through scanner lid

See-through scanner lid

The scanner has the scan head integrated in to the lid so as to provide a “preview” window for how you scan or copy the documents or photos. This can work well for snapshots and single-page documents but can be difficult to use when it comes to working with bound material such as copying out recipes from a cookbook to avoid damaging that cookbook in the kitchen.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

One weakness across the HP Envy printers and the slimline printing mechanism is that they use two ink cartridges – one black cartridge and one “three-colour” cartridge. This can make these printers expensive to run especially if you consider regular use out of them because if you run out of one colour in the colour cartridge, you have to replace that cartridge.

Here, HP could improve on the low-profile auto-duplex print mechanism by using separate cartridges for each colour. It can also allow HP to use photo-grade inks that are used with the Photosmart series of inkjet printers, thus giving the Envy series deluxe credentials in the output as well as the looks.

The other weakness with this model is the scanner design not being able to work with bound material very well due to the it working “face-side-up”. This could be improved with a lid that uses a pantograph-style or “Z-style” hinge so it can lie flat on the bound material during scanning thus achieving best results.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

Like the HP Envy 100, I would see this printer work more as a secondary printer to keep in a living area where you value elegance and aesthetics. This also would appeal to households who want a multifunction printer but use it on an ad-hoc basis and also value the aesthetics. For example, this could exist in a family room, living room or main hallway while a workhorse printer could be mainly used in the home office for the big runs.

It wouldn’t impress people who place value on the price of the printer or the cost to keep it running especially as a primary workhorse machine.

Product Review–HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook (Model: Envy 4-1121TU)


I am reviewing the HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook which is a newer take on the previously-reviewed Envy 4 Sleekbook. But this unit also comes with a touchscreen that takes advantage of the touch-enabled interface that Windows 8 is all about. Of course you have the regular keyboard and touchpad for content creation, especially if you want to create content.

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook at Intercontinental Melbourne On Rialto

– this configuration
Form factor Regular laptop
Processor Intel i3-3217U Ivy Bridge
RAM 4 Gb RAM shared with graphics
Secondary storage 320Gb HDD  with 32Gb SSD cache SDHC card reader
Display Subsystem Intel HD4000 integrated graphics
Screen 14” widescreen
LED backlit LCD touchscreen
Audio Subsystem Intel HD audio
Audio Improvements Beats Audio by Dr Dre
Network Wi-Fi 802.11g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 4.0
Connectivity USB USB 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 2
Video HDMI
Audio 3.5mm stereo output jack, 3.5mm stereo input jack, digital audio via HDMI
Operating System on supplied configuration Windows 8
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall: 4.8 Graphics:  4.8
Advanced Graphics: 6.2
Insert variants with relative price shifts

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart UltrabookThe HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook is the regular slimline clamshell laptop that satisfys Intel’s “Ultrabook” specifications but uses an aluminium escutcheon around the keyboard and trackpad. This yields a luxurious and cool finish where there is nothing plasticky about using this machine. Even things like rubber feet that aren’t as ready to come off along with a non-slip rubberised finish for the underside show that we are dealing with a well-built computer.

It is small and light enough to stash in to a shoulder bag or “bike bag” for easy transport. It doesn’t matter whether you are doing a lot of travelling or simply visiting your favourite “second-office” cafe or lounge.

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook with Windows 8 Modern UI

This Ultrabook makes use of the Windows 8 Modern (Metro) touch-enabled user interface with the touchscreen

It feels slightly warm to use when you are using it on your knees, this not as ready to overheat for most computing tasks. This is due to the grillework on the top between the hinges and a ventilatilation grille underneath the Envy computer.

User Interface

The Envy 4’s keyboard has that distinct feel that allows accurate touch-typing. Here, the keys are also finished in black rather than the matching grey so as to make them easier to identify.

he trackpad is very accurate but, like trackpads used on other recent-issue HP laptops, it has the enabe-disable function which requires you to dwell on the top left corner. This can cause you to mistakenly disable it if you are dragging an element and you take too long about it.

As for the touchscreen, it does its job with providing the coarse navigation and selection by responding properly and promptly.

Audio and Video

The visual experience with the HP Envy 4 is what I have expected from a recent laptop where it can handle most tasks properly with a proper frame rate out of video playback. I wouldn’t expect this kind of performance for “on-edge” gaming or advanced video editing tasks.

The Beats Audio sound-tuning had done its bit in providing some “body” to the sound even through the integrated speakers which are located above the keyboard. But I would gain best performance out of this laptop for sound when I use headphones or external speakers.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook left-hand-side connections - Ethernet, HDMI, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader

Left-hand-side connections – Ethernet “clothes-peg” connector, HDMI, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader

Like the previously-reviewed Envy 4 Sleekbook, this HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook uses the same “clothespeg” Ethernet socket so as to allow “dongle=free” connectivity to a Gigabit Ethernet segment. As well, there is a good complement of connections for use with current-generation peripherals such as an HDMI video connector and 3 USB sockets.

The 320Gb hard disk is big enough for most secondary-computer needs especially if you 00Gb hardmove data off it when you are finished with the data. But I would also like to see either a 256Gb solid-state disk for faster performance or a 500Gb hard disk for extra capacity available as an option.

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook right-hand-side connections - separate headphone and microphone jacks, USB 2.0 connector and power socket

Right-hand-side connections – separate headphone and microphone jacks, USB 2.0 connector and power socket

I am pleased that this computer still uses the SD card slot as removeable storage, which I consider important for those of us who download images from our digital cameras by removing the memory card out of the camera. This is compared to some Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 which omit this feature, and would earn its keep with those of us who take pictures and coarsely edit them while on the road.

Battery life

The HP Envy 4 is not demanding for battery life when subjected to most regular computing tasks especially if the computer is working with a Wi-Fi network.  But, after I watched a 90-minute video from SBS On-Demand, I found that the battery was at half capacity at the end of the video.

Other comments

When I used the HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook in the lounge at the Intercontinental Melbourne on Rialto hotel, the staff were amazed at the touchscreen interface that this computer has. This was a difference for them as they were used to guests who use the lounge as a “second office” using laptops and not touching the screen to work with the computer or the guests touching the screens on tablets and smartphones.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook rear view

Rear view of the Ultrabook

One improvemeit I would like to see for the HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook is the availability of a deluxe version with extra RAM and secondary storage as well as 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi. As I have said before, this would encourage us to think of having more storage when we are on the go for longer times as well as having the computer be future proof for high-speed 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. Similarly, going for 3 USB 3.0 connectors can work well as we move towards more USB 3.0 peripherals like secondary-storage devices.

Other than, there isn’t much to improve on for a secondary travel computer with a large screen.


The HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook earns its place as the logical successor to the Envy 4 Sleekbook. Here, it comes across as another example of a  lightweight secondary travel computer option where you value the  13”-14” screen. This is where you place value on content creation including creating elementary graphical content like PowerPoint slides or going through digital photos you have taken as well as creating written content on the go.

It then ends up alongside the HP Envy 4 Sleekbook, the Acer Aspire S3 and Sony VAIO T Series in my short list of ultraportable computers that I would use or recommend as a secondary portable computer for one who uses a desktop or larger laptop at home or the office.

Product Review- HP Envy X2 detachable-screen hybrid tablet computer


This is the first chance for me to review a touch-enabled Windows 8 computer in the form of the HP Envy X2. This computer comes in the form of a detachable-keyboard “hybrid” tablet  which exploits the Windows 8 abilities. Last month, I had set up my primary desktop computer with Windows 8 and established the Microsoft.com single-sign-on arrangement so I can exploit this operating environment in a manner as it is to be exploited on these computers.

This experience has shown that it is easy to have a common operating experience across a primary computer and a secondary computer such as the HP Envy X2 thus reducing the need to reconfigure both units exactly.

HP Envy X2 Detachable-Keyboard Hybrid Tablet

Price – this configuration AUD$999 / USD$899
Form factor Detachable-keyboard hybrid
Processor Intel Atom Z2760
RAM 2Gb RAM shared with graphics
Secondary storage 64Gb solid-state drive MicriSDHC card reader on tabet + SD card reader on keyboard module
Display Subsystem Intel HD display Display memory in discrete options
Screen 11” widescreen (1366×768) LED backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem Intel HD audio
Audio Improvements Beats Audio by Dr. Dre
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n single-stream
Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready
Connectivity USB USB 2.0 x 2 on keyboard
Video HDMI socket on keyboard unit
Audio 3.5mm input-output jack on keyboard unit 3.5mm headphone jack on tablet
Authentication and Security TPM
Sensors NFC Yes
Operating System on supplied configuration Windows 8
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall: Graphics: Advanced Graphics:

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

This Windows-8 computer comes in the “hybrid tablet” form factor which has the “system” integrated in the screen and has a detachable keyboard. This would remind you of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android-driven tablet which put this concept on the map.

The HP Envy X2 is finished in a brushed-aluminium finish with metallic-black keys on the keyboard and a black bezel that surrounds the touchscreen. Here, I have not noticed any overheating or other temperature issues when I have used this computer even with viewing video content.

I have also noticed that this computer is built very well and even things like the mechanism to detach and attach the screen had that solid but easy-to-use feel about it.

User Interface

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet detachable-keyboard dock

The detachable keyboard dock

Like most netbooks and small notebooks, the HP Envy X2 is equipped with the shallow chiclet keyboard but the way the Envy’s keys are spaced apart makes it supportive for an improved typing experience. I also admire the idea of having the keys finished in black rather than the same silver colour so they are easier to identify.

The trackpad can become a bit “hair-trigger” at times but it still uses the hold-down square in the top left to enable and disable it. This is a common foible with recent HP laptops and I would like to see a separate switch with indicator used for this function because if you dwell on the square to drag an item, you could accidentally defeat the trackpad.

The touchscreen is very responsive and accurate with there being very few issues with hair-trigger behaivour. This is more important if you are using the computer in the tablet mode The screen and keyboard are easy to detach from each other with you just having to move a latch above the keyboard to release the screen. When you want to reassemble the computer, it is as simple as dropping the tablet in to the groove atop the keyboard dock.

Audio and Video

The HP Envy X2 yielded a smooth visual experience for the display, even with the video playback which I did with the SBS On Demand service. Of course there is the glossy display that is common with consumer-market portable computing equipment and can be a problem in bright sunlight.

HP still does their best effort with improving the audio experience but even the Beats Audio sound tuning doesn’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The only bonus with this detachable-keyboard tablet layout is that the speakers “fire forward” from the screen when the keyboard is attached to the screen. Instead, I would use headphones or external speakers if you want the best out of your music or video content.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

HP Envy X2 main tablet unit connected to the charger

Main tablet unit connected to the charger – microSD slot and audio jack

There are two USB 2.0 connections and an HDMI connection on the HP Envy X2’s keyboard dock but the tablet itself could benefit from at least one USB connection. The power is supplied through a special plug which can connect in to a slot on the right-had-side of the keyboard or the docking slot on the tablet itself, and can be confusing for new users when they want to charge the tablet itself without carrying the keyboard dock with them.

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet left-hand side connections - HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.5mm audio jack

Left-hand side connections – HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.5mm audio jack

There is 2Gb RAM and 64Gb as solid-state secondary storage but it could benefit from more capacity but this is limited by the design constraints brought about by the tablet design.

You can add on a microSD memory card to the tablet itself or use a regular SD “camera card” with the keyboard dock for storage expansion. This can be limiting if you just want to show pictures from your camera on the Envy’s screen without the need for a keyboard dock.

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet Right hand side connections - SD card slot, USB 2.0 port and charging socket

Right-hand side connections – SD card slot, USB 2.0 port and charging socket

Battery life

There is the typical long-lasting battery that can work well with using the Envy X2 in a portable context but it doesn’t identify whether there is a secondary battery in the keyboard dock to allow the computer to run for a longer time.

Other usage notes

The HP Envy x2 has a digital camera on the back and the front so you can “grab” pictures using this computer, something you could benefit from if you do something like take things apart yet want to create  reference images. It also has the NFC panels on the screen and the back so you could transfer Web links and contact details between the Envy and other Windows 8, Windows Phone or Android devices (Sorry Apple!)

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

HP could offer a variant of the Envy X2 with a 128 Gb SSD and 4Gb RAM as a higher-performance option rather than the simplified “second-duty” tablet computer that this is pitched as.

The Envy X2 could benefit from a regular SD on the tablet rather than the microSD so you can use the digital-camera SD cards when you want to quickly show and use pictures from your digital camera. Similarly there could be a microUSB “On The Go” socket or standard USB 2.0 socket on the tablet so you can connect USB memory keys directly or using an “On The Go” cable without the need for the keyboard.


HP Envy x2 Hybrid Tablet rear view

Rear view of tablet

The HP Envy x2 is positioned more as a detachable-keyboard hybrid tablet computer that runs a regular-computer operating system using a lightweight “regular-computing” processor. This can be useful for those of you who like a detachable-keyboard tablet computer but would like to run the Windows 8 operating environment that you run on your desktop or large laptop computer.

But you may find that the price is too steep unless you place value on a hardy construction and orthodox look and feel for this kind of computer. On the other hand, I would even recommend this to ASUS Transformer Prime users who want a portable computer with a similar form factor yet would like to run the “regular-computer” operating environment.

Product Review – HP Envy 4 Sleekbook (Part No: ENVY4-1001TU)


I am reviewing the HP Envy 4 Sleekbook which is a 14” ultraportable which may not fit Intel’s description of an Ultrabook but which satisfies the same market. This is an ultraportable computer that is expected to serve as a secondary-duty unit with the technical specifications that match this requirement. But it has the 14″ screen that may be considered par for the course when it comes to “laptop-bridge” notebook computers that have a large-capacity hard disk, discrete graphics and an optical disk drive.

The variant I am reviewing is one that would be considered basic with 4Gb RAM and 320Gb on the hard disk but there may be variants in other markets that have 6Gb RAM and 500Gb on the hard disk.

HP Envy 4 Sleekbook ultraportable computer

– this configuration
Processor Intel Sandy Bridge i3-2367 processor
extra cost 6Gb
shared with graphics
Secondary storage 320Gb hard disk
extra cost
500Gb hard disk
SD card reader
Display Subsystem Intel HD display
Screen 14” widescreen (1366×768) LED backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem Intel HD Audio
Audio Improvements Beats Audio by Dr Dre tuning.
Network Wi-Fi 802.11g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Connectivity USB 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0
Video HDMI
Audio 3.5mm audio input, 3.5mm audio output, Digital out via HDMI
Operating System on supplied configuration Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall: 4.7 Graphics: 4.7
Advanced Graphics: 6.1
Not all options available in all markets

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

The Envy 4 Sleekbook is finished in a satin-black metal finish on the lid and escutcheon surrounding the keyboard area. There is a jet-black grille above the keyboard where the power switch is located and this is also where the speakers are located. There is a red rubber finish on the underside and this yields a non-slip quality which can also be less worrying for those of us who deal with polished furniture because of the reduced likelihood for scratching.

You may think that the 14” variant of an Ultrabook is going to be too heavy but this Sleekbook is not too heavy to be tiring to carry. It can go well in a shoulder bag or bike bag without becoming too cumbersome as well as allowing room for other stuff in this bag.

There is a vent grille underneath and this is important because of the tendency for this computer to run a bit warm on the left had side when handling heavy tasks like video. This can be a liability if you intend to have it in operation for a long time while you are in bed or sitting on the sofa. Here, I would recommend that you place the Sleekbook on a tray if you leave it on the bed or on the bedside table or coffee table when you get off your bed or couch.

User Interface

The HP Envy 4 Sleekbook’s keyboard has a soft but hard feel. But this full-size keyboard does give you enough room to  touch-type comfortably without any errors or your hands feeling cramped. You have to use the Fn key to use the function keys like F5 to refresh your browser screen.

The trackpad bas o distinct touch-identifiable primary / secondary button zones so it becomes difficult to know where to click or right-click while you are touch-typing. This could be made better through a differently-textured button area or a “button ridge”.  Another issue that can trouble some users is that if they touch the top left hand corner twice, they can  defeat or enable touchpad. This is an action that is easy to mistake when double-tapping to double-click an option on the display

Audio and Video

The Intel HD graphics subsystem can work well even with video content such as the on-demand TV content that I have viewed from SBS On-Demand. There was no blurring and the graphics had come through smoothly but it wouldn’t be suitable for intense gaming activities.

HP Envy 4 Sleekbook Left Hand Side connections - Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0 x 2, SD card slot

Left-hand-side connections – Ethernet, HDMI, 2 x USB 3.0, SD card slot

Like a lot of recent HP laptops, the Envy 4 Sleekbook is a “Beats Edition” unit which means that its audio subsystem has been “worked” by Dr. Dre’s “Beats Audio” team. This yielded a “full sound” through headphones or speakers whether with the on-demand video-drama content or some music I played through this laptop. Infact this has allowed the bass content to “come through” when I played a few music tracks through the integrated speakers, giving them what a classic 3” cone speaker used in most portable audio equipment would yield.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

HP Envy 4 Sleekbook Right hand side connections - Audio In, Audio Out, USB 2.0, Power

Right-hand-side connections – Audio In, Audio Out, USB 2.0, Power

The Ethernet connection is a special socket that expands to take the common RJ45 plug but closes up to preserve the Envy 4 Sleekbook’s compact looks. As well, there are two USB 3.0 connectors here which become very relevant with this computer so you can offload data quickly to a USB 3.0-equipped external hard disk. This is augmented by a USB 2.0 connector on the right so you can plug in a wired external mouse or other device that uses this connection. There is only the HDMI vide connection for external video displays so you would have to use a USB DisplayLink VGA adaptor or the HDFury HDMI-VGA adaptor if you were to use the Sleekbook with an economy data projector.

The Sleekbook’s 32Gb hard disk has just about all of the space used as the main drive with a smaller partition used for the system-recovery data. At least this gives you a better idea of how much space you have used. Like other similar ultraportables, this computer doesn’t come with an optical drive, but this combination would suit its use as a secondary computer rather than as a main computer.

Battery life

HP Envy 4 Sleekbook Lid vidw

Lid view

This computer is not demanding on the battery life through regular day-to-day operation but can go through the battery a bit more quickly with multimedia tasks like video-on-demand. I infact noticed that there was nearly half the capacity after watching the 1-hour video-on-demand content via the Wi-Fi network.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

I would like to see the HP Envy 4 Sleekbook have an improved trackpad design that allows you to identify the primary and secondary buttons by touch. This could be achieved through a differently-textured surface or distinct ridges and grooves for the button zone.  Similarly, a secondary button could be used to turn the trackpad on on off without the need to mistake a double-tap action in a particular zone.

This ultraportable could benefit from a DisplayPort connection so as to exploit this newer technology and benefit from video adaptors that work to this standard. As well, it could work with a dual-band 802.11a/g/n wireless chipset so it can benefit from the unexploited 5GHz wireless-network band.

HP Envy 4 Sleekbook at Rendezvous Grand Hotel Melbourne

This notebook even looks the part in that hotel lounge

HP could do better with this model by offering a deluxe variant that has better options like the Intel i5 chipset, 6Gb RAM and either a solid-state drive or 500Gb hard disk across all markets. This can yield the possibility of retailers being able to use that model as a deal-maker.


I would position the HP Envy 4 Sleekbook as a computer for those who want a larger screen and that bit extra for a secondary portable computer for travelling. This is even if you are simply visiting that Wi-Fi-equipped cafe or hotel lounge as an “office away from the office”.

New Ivy-Bridge-based all-in-ones from HP


HP unveils four new business and consumer all-in-ones with Ivy Bridge insides – Engadget

My Comments

Previously, I had written an article about desktop computers in form factors other than the traditional tower case becoming more powerful. This also included an article that I wrote about the HP Z1 Workstation which could knock over the Apple iMac computers when it comes to a single-piece CAD workstation based on the Windows platform.

HP have now complemented this workstation with a series of business and consumer all-in-one desktops that still yield highly-capable aesthetically-pleasing computing environments. Infact one of the business computers, the Compaq Elite 8300 has the ability to be equipped with a touchscreen which allows for POS and related customer-service functionality.

The Envy 23 is one of those all-in-ones which could supplant that small bedroom or den TV especially where these rooms are expected to serve as a living area, work area and sleeping area. This is due to it being able to be optioned with a Blu-Ray player and a TV tuner as well as an HDMI input to connect that games console or camera.

What I see of this lineup is whether HP have dumped the classic “tower” desktop in favour of the more attractive form factors like these “all-in-ones” and raised the credibility of this class of cord-tethered computer.

Product Review–HP Envy 15 3000 Series Beats Edition laptop computer (Model 15-3012tx)


Previously I reviewed the first of the HP Envy laptop computers which was a 15” “thin-and-light” that abounded in luxury. It was launched around the time that Windows-based computers started to match up or overtake the Apple Macintosh computers in the way they performed and looked. This one was styled in a bronze finish with a perforated filligree pattern across the top of the lid and on the keyboard.

Now I am reviewing one of the latest iterations of this top-shelf range, known as the HP Envy 15 “3000 Series”. This unit, like the rest of the current high-end HP lineup has the dark-black lid with a glowing HP logo. But, when you open it up, it appears to look like the Apple MacBook Pro lineup in many ways with the aluminium keyboard surround and the black keyboard and display escutcheon. It is an example of a trend that is besetting the 15” multimedia laptop class as manufacturers try to cut in to the MacBook Pro’s market dominated by the creative industries.

HP Envy 15-3000 Series laptop

– this configuration
Processor Intel i7-2670QM
RAM 8Gb shared with graphics
Secondary Storage 750Gb hard disk
1Tb hard disk – extra cost
slot-load DVD burner, SD card reader
Display Subsystem Intel HD graphics +
AMD Radeon HD 7670M
1Gb display memory (AMD graphics mode)
Screen 15” widescreen (1366×768)
15” widescreen (1920 x 1080) – extra cost
LED-backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem Intel HD audio
Audio Improvement BeatsAudio by Dr Dre 3 speakers per channel + 2 bass drivers
Network Wi-Fi 802.11g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 3.0
Connectors USB 3 x USB 2.0
eSATA 1 x eSATA combined with USB
Video HDMI, DisplayPort
Audio 1 x 3.5mm audio input, 2 x 3.5mm audio output
Digital output via HDMI or DisplayPort
Operating System on supplied unit Microsoft Windows 7
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall Graphics
Advanced Graphics
Insert other variants with price shift, bold or highlight this configuration

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build quality

The HP Envy 15 3000 laptop has aesthetics that reflect a recent-issue Apple Macbook Pro, especially when you open it up. This is with the screen having a black escutcheon and the keyboard surround being made of natural anodised aluminium and the keyboard being a black illuminated kind. This aluminium surround, which also feels cool to the touch rather than sweaty, also reminds me of its use on a large range of classy hi-fi equipment especially most of the B&O equipment since the 1970s..

Of course, the back of the lid is finished in a satin black finished with a small HP logo that reflects when the computer is off and glows like the Apple logo when it is on, like the HP Pavilion DV7-6013TX that I previously reviewed. This styling is much more discreet than the distinct Apple logo that the MacBook Pro uses, but this could be augmented further with an “Envy” logo which identifies it as being part of the high-end Envy range. It also reinforces the fact that the computer feels very well-built and durable.

I have noticed no overheating from this laptop compared to the previous Envy model. This is probably due to the use of a larger more-standard shell that is typical for a 15” standard laptop than the previous effort of creating a 15” “thin-and-light” notebook which is a breeding ground for this problem. But there is still a constant fan noise that occurs when the computer is in full use.

User interface

HP Envy 15-3000 Series keyboard detail

This keyboard reminds you of the MacBook Pro

The black illuminated keyboard has a rough-textured feel that reminds you of using a “rubberised” keyboard. Unlike most other laptops of this size, this unit doesn’t have a numeric keypad but you can still type very quickly and accurately on it. The illuminated effect is augmented by a “waterfall” effect which happens whenever the keyboard lights up and this can be triggered by a proximity sensor that “wakes” the Envy up when a user comes near.

The trackpad is a recessed smooth aluminium area with marked off area for selection buttons which can be deliberately pressed down. This is in a similar manner to what happens for the MacBook Pro’s trackpad although you deliberately press down anywhere on that trackpad to “click” your selection and is exploiting the single-button mouse that is part of the MacOS’s operation.

The keyboard and trackpard are augmented with an aluminium on-off button above the keyboard and a thumbwheel that provides ready access to the sound volume control. This is infact a much more desirable function because you can quickly turn the sound up or down as you require in the manner that most of us have liked where we use a knob or thumbwheel to adjust the sound. But it can be temperamental and choose not to adjust the sound level when you need to adjust it.

Audio and Video

The HP Envy 15 3000 Series is another of the HP range that has had its sound tuned by Dr. Dre’s Beats Audio. This sound tuning and multi-speaker setup has paid off in improving the sound quality of the integrated speakers.  You benefit from a sound experience that has a sense of presence across the frequency range, in a similar way to how the larger portable radios and cassette recorders which use the orthodox 3”-4” cone speaker in their larger housings sound. You will not really expect the full beefy bass sound out of this laptop unless you have it hooked up to speakers that put out the full range. This is still because the small speakers are all packed inside the main chassis with the keyboard, battery, computer circuitry and secondary storage. Here, HP could spread the speakers around such as mounting some of them next to the screen for example.

Once I connected a set of B&O Form 2 headphones to this laptop, the sound had that full punch and the equalisation circuitry was effective. This can be of benefit if the Envy 15 was used alongside a speaker system that doesn’t provide full control or with a pair of good headphones. The BeatsAudio Control Panel effectively bypassed the bass response and equalisation for the headphones and another device I was using as an external amplifier in order to yield a “flat” sound but the “punchiness” was there while the BeatsAudio functionality was engaged.

This is another of the laptops that implement a dual-graphics setup with AMD Radeon HD 7670M as the performance option. Like the other AMD-based dual-graphics laptops that I have reviewed, the AMD software allows you to choose which graphics mode the computer will run in when you run particular software. This will make it easer to prefer higher-performance operation for the programs that need it like the games or graphics-editing tools, yet use the integrated graphics with the power-saving benefits for regular office applications.

HP Envy 15-3000 Series laptop left-hand-side connections

Left hand side - slot-load DVD burner, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, audio input, 2 audio outputs

Thankfully the screen isn’t finished with that glossy reflective plastic and it makes for an easy-to-read display. It will also be of benefit if you choose to dim the display to conserve battery power on this laptop.

Connectivity and Expansion

The HP Envy 15 3000 Series is equipped with a slot-load DVD burner but a machine of its price could benefit from an optical drive that could handle Blu-Ray discs. This feature could be positioned on at least the more-expensive high-end offering that is equipped with the higher-capacity hard disk and Full-HD (1920×1080) screen.

An important fact about the Envy 15 3000 Series is that it is the first laptop that I have reviewed to be equipped with a Mini DIsplayPort connector. More so, this connector is provided in lieu of a VGA socket and if you had to use this laptop with that economy data projector or a cheaper external monitor, you would need to use a DisplayPort-VGA adaptor module or a DisplayLink-enabled USB-VGA module. Otherwise, it has the expected connections for a 15” premium multimedia laptop.

HP Envy 15-3000 Series laptop right-hand-side connections

Right-hand-side connectors - SD card slot, locking slot, USB 2.0 port, Mini DisplayPort socket, HDMI output, volume control, Ethernet socket

For network connectivity, the Envy 15 has the 802.11g/n wireless and Gigabit Ethernet. But this could benefit from 802.11a/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi networking so as to work with higher-performance networks that use the 5GHz band.

Battery life

I had noticed that the HP Envy 15 3000 Series yielded 18% of battery power remaining after running the computer on effectively several hours of mixed activities ranging from  data transfer like PDF downloads and system  updates as well as playing  multimedia content from the Internet and DVD . But this computer was able to continuously play a DVD feature for 4 hours, 19 minutes with Wi-Fi engaged, bit it was assessed with the use of the integrated graphics rather than the AMD graphics chipset. Of course most users may want to make use of the discrete graphics only while the computer is on AC power.

This performance is very much on a par with the recent bunch of 15” laptops that I have tested for this site.

Experience with other people

I showed this computer to a visiting friend whom I knew owns one of the newer Apple MacBook Pro computers and he said that it was a “spitting image” of that computer. He noticed that the keyboard area made him think of that Apple computer that he owns rather than any other computer.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

One improvement that I would like to see for the HP Envy 15 3000 Series would be that the premium model come with an optical drive that can at least play Blu-Ray discs rather than just a DVD burner. This would complement the 1920×1080 display that it offers and make it also an up-to-date multimedia laptop.

As well,  HP could make sure that the volume thumbwheel works properly with the Windows main volume control. This could be through mapping the thumbwheel directly with the operating system’s class drivers and function list rather than writing software to achieve that goal. What I see is that a lot of the problems with advanced functionality is that manufacturers tend to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to providing the necessary software link to the functionality rather than taking advantage of the operating system’s software support and extending that with modules that hook to the OS’s application-programming interface.

The computer could also benefit from a line-in socket so it can work easily with hi-fi systems, tape / MD decks and the like for capturing audio from these sources to the hard disk. This could be available through a USB external sound module that HP could sell as an “official accessory” for the Envy computer lineup. On the other hand, HP could implement high-quality discrete sound-card circuitry like Creative Labs circuitry to raise the bar above everyone else when it comes to sound reproduction. This can also help HP tackle the PC-based DJ market and snap at Apple’s heels more effectively.

Another accessory idea that I would like to see for HP BeatsAudio computers would be a speaker set that implements this sound tuning so that the BeatsAudio advantage can be taken further for a punchy bass line.


HP Envy 15-3000 Series laptop lid viewI would recommend this computer for two main user classes. The first one would be a person who wants a graphics and multimedia workhorse in the standard 15” laptop form factor while staying with the Windows platform. This is more so if you want to demonstrate that the Windows platform is as good at these tasks as the Apple Macintosh platform.

The second user class are those people who are moving from the Apple Macintosh platform to the Windows platform and want a computer that maintains a similar look and build quality to their previous MacBook Pro unit  It can also mean that HP is doing its best to position the Envy computer range in the “Super Cool” fridge on personal-computing’s “Cool Wall”. It may also be interesting to see whether this computer will appear on the coffee bars at the Wi-Fi-equipped trendy inner-urban cafes.

This is another Envy to definitely Envy!

Product Review–HP Envy 100 ePrint-enabled all-in-one printer


I am reviewing the HP Envy 100 ePrint-enabled all-ine-one printer which is another member of the HP “Envy” high-end stylishly-designed equipment range. This printer is styled not like an ordinary all-in-one printer but something that wouldn’t look out of place alongside domestic hi-fi or home-cinema equipment.

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer (D410a)

Print Scan Copy E-mail Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Ink-jet 1200 dpi   HP ePrint email-to-print service   802.11g/n Wi-Fi wireless



Recommended Retail Price: AUD$399

Inks and Toners

  Standard   High-Capacity  
  Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$22.62 200 AUD$44.49 600
Colour AUD$26.52 165 AUD$52.30 440


The printer itself

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer (D410a) all lids open

The printer with its scanner lid open and paper input and output exposed

There is a lot about this printer’s styling that makes it not like the typical all-in-one printer that I have used or reviewed. This printer has a design that wouldn’t look out of place in a hi-fi or home-theatre equipment rack with its slimline and neat styling. Here, it would be as slim as the typical VHS video recorder or “personal-TV service” unit. Even the scanner lid reminds me of that flat-glass lid used to cover the turntable on a mid-1980s “music-centre” stereo system because of the way it lies flush with the top of the printer and is made of that similar glass.

Where do the documents come out of?

The way the printer is styled may confuse some people because there isn’t an obvious paper tray or output tray.

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer - paper output

The printer's paper output tray

When you want to use the printer from the control panel, you work it using a large touchscreen on the front of the unit. This touchscreen can be positioned at an angle for easier operation but will swing up when the printer is printing out anything. The paper is loaded in to a shallow removeable tray which you pull out from the front of the printer.

Even the SD slot for your camera card may be hard to find but it is located on the top right edge of the printer, under a small flap.


The printer can work with 802.11g/n WiFi networks that are secured using WPA2-PSK technology. You enter the passphrase for these networks using a virtual keyboard on the unit’s touchscreen; but it also works properly with WPS “simplified-setup” routines that most recent-issue home and small-business routers support.

On the other hand, the software that is supplied on the CD-ROM leave a lot to be desired. It doesn’t operate properly with network setups and you may have to try many attempts at setting this software up on your computer. This is more so with firewall software that may be slow to respond.

Walk-up functions

The printer works as expected for a colour copier. As well, it can print from or scan to SD cards or USB memory keys. Like with all printers, these functions could be improved through increased memory in the unit. Here, images obtained from the scanner or removable media could be copied to the memory before being printed so as to allow quicker and more productive operation; such as being able to quickly copy many pages or print pictures from your camera then continue snapping more pictures.

Through the use of the ePrint Web apps, this printer can print documents on demand. As well, some of these ePrint apps work as client programs for various photo-sharing or social networking sites, so you can print pictures from your albums that exist on these sites.

It also supports the HP ePrint “email-to-print” system which allocates the printer an email address so you can send documents or photos to that address for printing. This also allows for Apple iOS devices to print documents and images directly to this printer using AirPrint.

It is also worth knowing that Android users can download the “HP iPrint Photos” app from the Android Market to their device so they can print photos through this printer. At the moment, there isn’t a full document-print solution available for this platform yet.

Computer functions

When used with a Windows 7 machine, this printer works tightly with the operating system, thus using functions like the Device Stage.

Even the ability to set up device-initiated scanning for a network-connected printer requires you to visit the Device Stage which comes up when you click on the printer in “Devices and Printers”. This feature has still got some problems with reliability in that it won’t start properly or expose the options to the printer’s control panel. This function is still something that has to be worked out and should be part of the operating system as I have touched on previously.

Other than that, it does work properly as far as computer-initiated printing goes. It also does offer proper support for basic and advanced UPnP printing functionality; something I find that is not implemented in many client devices like set-top boxes. This is not enabled by default and you would have to go to the printer’s Web page which is at its URL, then go to “Networking” to select and enable this function.

Print Quality

This printer works as expected for an inkjet printer when it comes to printing documents. But the real test I notice with these inkjet printers is how they handle photographic images. The pictures don’t come out as saturated as most of the other inkjets that I have tested.  As well, they are not as dark as those printed on most of the other inkjet printers that I have tested.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

As with all HP inkjet printers that have auto-duplex printing, this function still requires a significant top and bottom margin, which can be very limiting for desktop publishing applications. I have raised this issue on forums operated by HP, but they say that this is a designed-in limitation to assure proper auto-duplex operation but I have seen auto-duplex-equipped inkjets available from other manufacturers, namely Canon, which can print this way without requiring the top and bottom margin.

As well, the use of a tri-colour ink cartridge makes the printer more costly to run because you can’t replace individual colours as needed. This could be improved upon by HP when they refine their low-profile print mechanism that is used in this printer. The slimline design also has a limitation with the paper tray not being able to hold much paper.

The manufacturer-supplied software could benefit from a lot of work on it, especially with the way it operates with network printers. This includes making it work tightly with the operating system’s services and properly discovering the printer and announcing the computer’s network location. This is always something that manufacturers tend to forget about when designing their printers.

Taking the concept further

The way HP have integrated a duplex-capable inkjet print mechanism with “front paper feed” as well as an LED-based scanner mechanism into a chassis the size of a typical VHS video recorder has amazed me with this unit.

Here, they could take the concept further with various product ideas for inkjet printers and similar devices. One could be a rack-mount printer for “built-in” applications, where the printer is pulled out like a drawer when it needs to have new ink added or be serviced.

Similarly, there could be the ability for HP to design a transportable “all-in-one” printer modelled on the Envy 100 that is designed for “on-location” workforces. This would have a handle of a style not dissimilar to that found on a boombox and having the scanner lid kept closed by a latching mechanism. Electronically, it would have full WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and work on 12 volts DC, thus being able to work from a car’s cigar-lighter socket or a 12-volt rechargeable battery pack.

As well, this mechanism could encourage HP to work towards mainstreaming low-profile “front-feed”  inkjet printer designs for the home and small-business market/

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This printer is targeted to those who place a lot of emphasis on style and may suit those of us who are particular about what can be placed in the common living areas of the house. But it wouldn’t be worth using as a main printer for a home or small business because of the two-cartridge system or the reduced paper capacity. Here, I would recommend it for use as a secondary printer intended for use in the family room if you can accept the price for this application.

Will more Windows-based laptops appear on the “Cool Wall”?


Windows PCs take New York | The Microsoft Blog

My comments

Last year, when Windows 7 and Apple MacOS X “Snow Leopard” came out, a lot more Windows-based laptops and “all-in-one” computers appeared that excelled on their aesthetics as well as their functionality. This has been reinforced with a few of the computers that have come my way for review on this site.

The Envy laptop (product review) has a laser-etched “filligree” pattern on the back of the computer’s lid and on the palm rest whereas the ProBook 4520s (product review) has a “brushed” florentine-bronze finish on those same places. Dell had used a “piano-black” gloss finish on the lid of two of the computers – the Studio 15 (product review) and the Inspiron 13z (product review) while their Mini 10 netbook (product review) had that “gloss-white” finish that was common with previous generations of Apple iPods and Macintosh products for the back of the computer.

If you, like me, are a regular viewer of “Top Gear” which is a very funny BBC TV car show which is pitched at the petrolheads and car enthusiasts amongst us , you may have seen the “Cool Wall” segment on this show (WikiPedia article). Here, there is a very large board that is divided up in to four segments – “Seriously Uncool”, “Uncool”, “Cool” and “Sub Zero”. Here, the Top Gear Boys (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) place photos of various cars on this wall according to how cool they think these cars are. Some of us may have noticed a so-called “Super-Cool Fridge” which was a box shaped like a fridge where pictures of cars deemed to be “Super-Cool” went. The Top Gear Boys tended to vary the definition of “coolness” based on the car’s powertrain, body style or other factors, even on whether certain celebrities and high-profile individuals were driving it or not.

If you thought of a “Cool Wall” existing for laptop computers, it may have looked like this with all of the recent-issue Apple MacBook laptops being considered either “Sub-Zero” or in the “Super-Cool” fridge and all of the Windows-based laptops appearing on the “Uncool” side. This is because of the grey finish with that Apple logo glowing on the back of the computer. What is now happening is that the machines from HP, Dell, Acer, ASUS and Sony are now in a position to fill in most of the “Cool Wall”.

This latest crop of laptops that have been shown in the preview show detailed in the Windows PCs take New York article is now showing that more of these manufacturers are showing up with machines that can look as good as the Apple units. Similarly, there have been people who have used Windows-7-based computers to do creative work including music production and this has led to MacOS X “Snow Leopard” and Windows 7 ending up on an even footing as far as desktop computing is concerned.

Some Apple pundits may think that Apple moving away from the Motorola PowerPC processor platform to the Intel processor platform as well as integration of Microsoft technologies into MacOS X may have denied the Apple Macintosh platform its perceived  exclusivity and superiority over other platforms. This is even though Apple had licensed intellectual property from Microsoft ever since they used the Microsoft BASIC code for the Applesoft BASIC interpreter in the Apple II lineup of computers.

At least there is more activity underway with yielding a functionally and aesthetically level desktop-computing field between the two main players.

Product Review – Hewlett-Packard Envy 15 luxury “thin-and-light” notebook computer

Do you really envy the HP Envy?

I am now reviewing the HP Envy 15, which I have talked about previously in relation to Windows 7, especially if you have noticed the AdSense ads for this computer that appeared on the blog around the time of that operating system’s launch.HP Envy notebook computer

This computer is a consumer-market “thin-and-light” notebook computer pitched at the luxury end of Hewlett-Packard’s notebook computer range. This review is infact the first review I have done for a “thin-and-light” travel-friendly notebook in this blog.

Look and feel

Even from the moment you unpack the Envy from its box, you will notice a look and feel that says the word “deluxe” about it. It was as though I was unwrapping something that was very special like a good watch. You would find the computer itself wrapped in a black cloth bag and the keyboard was covered with a black sheet. Even the cardboard box had the sense of “Black Label” about it.

The computer itself has a “bronze-tone” lid and keyboard escutcheon with a display that is shrouded with a black escutcheon. That same “bronze-tone” is very similar to how the Nokia 6210 mobile phone was finished. There is even a detailed pattern in the perforations on the lid an keyboard escutcheon that reminds me of a pattern associated with satin-finish or flock-finish wallpapers used by some people  to achieve the “manor house” look in their homes. The casing also has a feel that reminds me of aluminium even though it is plastic.

User Interface

Pattern detail on HP Envy lid

Pattern detail on HP Envy lid

The keyboard has a “chiclet”-style layout which may not appeal to touch-typists and the keys don’t have a “deep throw” that most PC users are used to. Therefore, it will take some time getting used to. This may be an attempt to mimic the Apple MacBook Pro’s keyboard. You also will need to use the Fn key to gain access to the function keys, otherwise these keyare used for managing functions like sound volume, display brightness and media-player controls.

The trackpad looks just like the MacBook Pro’s trackpad, with the buttons being as though they are part of the trackpad rather than as separately distinct buttons. Here, you would use tne area on each side of a white marker on the bottom of the trackpad to select your options.

Processor and RAM

The computer works on an Intel Core i7 processor and is loaded with 8Mb RAM, which would allow for a high level of performance. This should be considered enough for the kind of performance expected from a deluxe machine.

Secondary storage

The Envy has a 640Gb hard disk that is split between 3 partitions – a 580Gb boot partition that is used for programs and data, a 14.5Gb recovery partition and a 99 Mb HP TOOLS partition for HP’s own software.

For removeable storage, there is an integrated SDHC card reader on the front edge of the machine as well as an external tray-load DVD burner that is connected via the USB ports. The external DVD burner, which is finished in a similar manner to the Envy, also has an integrated 2-port USB hub.


The Envy has a 15” widescreen LED-backlit LCD driven by an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5830 integrated-graphics subsystem. The memory used for this display is 1Gb of main system memory, which may affect system performance. This would be adequate for most tasks and had performed very well during the DVD run-down test with “Munich”.


The Envy also has “up-to-the-moment” connectivity abilities with 2 USB 3.0 sockets, ,1 eSATA socket, an HDMI video/audio output socket and a jack for connecting a microphone or headphones.,It doesn’t seem to work with the new 4-conductor plugs used as part of the OMTP specification for wired mobile headsets.

At the moment, HP has to supply operating software to “open up” the USB 3.0 functionality but Microsoft will rectify the problem by integrating this functionality when they release the next or subsequent service pack for Windows 7.


The Dr. Dre Beats Audio sound tuning primarily adds a 10-band graphic equaliser and balance control  to the sound controls, but the common lack of bass response is still there when you use the Envy’s integrated speakers – the small size and cramped space makes the job harder.

HP Envy alongside B&O headphones

HP Envy alongside some premium B&O headphones

This sound tuning is best enjoyed with good sound equipment or a pair of good headphones in the order of AKG, Bang & Olufsen, Bose, or Sennheiser. Infact the sound comes through clearly with my B&O Form 2 headphones that I am using with this laptop and I would recommend these headphones as befitting the luxury style of this computer.

It may be worth noting that the Beats Audio tuning won’t affect the HDMI digital-audio output path mainly because the device that is used to reproduce the sound will be the control point for the sound output and usually offer better sound reproduction.

Operation Issues

I had run a “DVD-rundown” test which measures battery runtime when the computer is playing a DVD. This test has the graphics subsystem constantly working as it shows the movie and als runs the DVD player constantly. Here, I was playing Stephen Spielberg’s “Munich” and had noticed that whether the wireless functionality was on or off, the computer couldn’t make it through the movie. This may also be because of a smaller battery pack built in to this computer and the fact that the DVD is played on an external DVD drive.

Sometimes the “throw-in” software that comes with a name-brand computer may be described as “crapware” can be of high calibre. One example is the MediaSmart Music Player, which behaves properly with UPnP MediaServer setups. Here, it allows you to navigate the MediaServer’s content tree in the same way as you would navigate it using a DLNA device’s user interface.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

A major limitation with the Envy’s “thin-and-light” chassis design is that it is simply “cramped inside”. This limits proper cooling which leads to the machine becoming hot after a significant time of use. It also leads to the “Beats Audio” sound-reproduction tuning being off the mark because there isn’t enough room for the bass frequencies to resonate.

What HP could do to “build-out” the Envy deluxe notebook range is provide a larger “mainstream-style” notebook computer with integrated direct-load optical drive (preferably Blu-Ray) and larger battery in to the Envy series in order to set itself up with a worthy competitor to the Apple Macbook Pro computer. The suggested machine would have the same styling and Beats Audio sound-tuning as this machine and could support a larger screen.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would place the Envy towards people who are wanting the look of one of the “thin and light” Apple MacBook Air computers but want to have something cheaper or stay on a “standards-based” computer operating environment.

Women may like this computer because of its emphasis on aesthetics, especially if they are enamoured by the “old-class” manor-house styling. The “thin-and-light” chassis may not fit in to a handbag but would fit well in a small briefcase or large shoulder bag.

Functionally, I would still class it as an all-rounder for most data-intensive applications. Some multimedia applications may require the computer to be on an external power source. The Beats Audio sound tuning would be justified when used with external sound equipment or good-quality headphones.