HP Envy 14 review

Full review: Macbook Air alike laptop with Beats Audio

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Great laptop, hindered by some minor usability niggles

When HP announced the Envy range in 2009 it was pretty obvious the computing giant was after Apple's MacBook Pro. This latest version of the laptop is, at 14-inches, the smallest but still provides serious punch in the performance department, even if portability takes a hit.

At 2.6kg the laptop is quite a lump for a 14-inch machine, especially as it boasts a very similar form factor to ultraportable laptops weighing more than one kilo less. Unfortunately the 215 minute battery life is also a little tame, and we expect more from a machine that seems intended to challenge Apple’s MacBook Pro range.

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Although this battery life hinders portability somewhat, it's understandable considering the power of the components on board, which quickly suck the life from the cells.

The Intel Core i5 450M processor offers mountains of performance the average user is never likely to need (although this in itself will provide decent future proofing) while the ATi Mobility Radeon 5650 graphics card – supported by 1GB of dedicated video memory – provides awesome power. This means that those with serious multimedia interests – and even gamers – will find the Envy 14 to more than cater for their needs graphically.

It's great, then, that there's 500GB of hard drive space for storing photo, music and movie libraries as well as any work you may want to carry round with you. Should you want to back-up data you can do so by the slot loading DVD-RW dirve.

The laptop is built from machined aluminium – contributing significantly to the overall weight – and oozes high end quality. The screen is exceptionally bright, crisp and clear, making all content look great.

The keyboard is comfortable to use for long periods of time, but the touchpad is terrible, and we regularly brushed it writing this review, causing irritating cursor behaviour.

Three USBs is fairly standard, and there’s both VGA and HDMI video outs for attaching to external monitors. There’s no VGA video out, however, which might put off those with an older monitor or TV.

Last, but by no means least, HP has collaborated with legendary hip hop producer Dr Dre and audio hardware experts Beats to produce a dedicated speaker system for the Envy range, and it provides great audio making it a fantastic extra feature.

Controlled by a piece of Beats software audio is noticeably cleaner and more resonant right across the audio spectrum, and provides some of the best sound quality we’ve heard from a laptop.

Not many have been brave enough to go for Apple head-on, and while the result isn't as compelling the MacBook Air this still makes a great laptop with a host of interesting features.

HP Envy 14 price: Around £899 online, link HP

HP Envy 14 launch date: Out now

HP Envy 14 Specifications:

  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Screen: 14.5-inch 1366x768
  • Processor: Intel 2.4GHz Core i5 450M
  • Graphics: ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5650
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 500GB
  • Connections: 3x USB, Esata, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, N Wi-Fi, gigabit ethernet, card reader, Bluetooth 2.1,
  • Optical drive: DVD-RW
  • Battery tested: 215 minutes
  • Dimensions: 237x356x28mm/2.5kg

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