The Envy series was introduced in 2009 as a replacement for the Voodoo Envy and originally started with 13- and 15-inch models. The premium notebook line was expanded to include 14- and 17-inch flavors in mid-2010, the former of which were received for evaluation. It's been a little over a year since we posted this review, and we've been honored with the second generation Envy 14 since then. While it looks pretty similar outwardly, the 2011 iteration has revamped the internals.
Here I pause to explain the difficult timing we went through testing and reviewing the Envy 14. This second generation model was launched in August and we received our test system about a month later. This was around the time HP suddenly shut down its webOS business and indicated a possible spin-off of the PC unit. Weeks went by, HP received all kinds of good and bad press (mostly the latter), their relatively new CEO walked the door, and at the end of October we finally got a definitive answer: HP is keeping its PC business and we should see more products in the near future Future.
Back to normal business operations, HP redesigned the Envy 15 and 17 models in late November, while the Envy 14 stayed mostly the same and received some speed limits and price cuts.
Our rating system used to cost $ 1,079.99, now it's available for $ 899. The Envy 14 comes with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5-2430M with Turbo Boost, 6 GB DDR3 SDRAM, a Western Digital 750 GB hard drive, switchable Radeon HD 6630M graphics card, a 14.5 "HD BrightView Infinity LED display and 8X DVD +/- R / RW supplied with double layer support, Intel HM65 Express chipset, Intel 802.11a / b / g / n WiFi with Bluetooth and an 8-cell lithium-ion battery with 3800 mAh. Windows 7 Home Premium is the operating system of choice.
If you're familiar with the Envy line, there are no surprises from last year's models. The computer came in a similar box and includes an AC adapter, removable battery, power cord, and quick setup guide. The power adapter has a USB port for charging mobile devices, which is a nice touch.
From the outside, the 2010 and 2011 Envy 14 models can hardly be distinguished. The Envy bears a strong resemblance to Apple's MacBook Pro, which for the most part can be considered a good thing. The latest version has the same gunmetal lid with an attractive etched pattern. A reflective HP logo is located in the back corner of the lid on the right side and glows slightly white when the system is on.
On the front of the notebook there are two speaker grilles with the Beats Audio logo, which is clearly visible next to the left grill. An SD / MMC card slot flanks the speaker on the right. On the right side of the system there is a power and hard drive activity indicator, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, a mini DisplayPort, a Kensington lock slot, an Ethernet jack and a series of exhaust ports.
The back of the system is clean along with another row of exhaust vents. On the left is the optical drive for loading slots, two USB 2.0 ports and headphone / microphone jacks.
There are four non-slip pads on the bottom of the notebook, although one of the feet in our sample was broken. HP Cycles review samples across multiple media and we have no idea how many others tested this Envy before we received it. Even so, a broken foot puts the durability of the notebook in question a little, and on further inspection, the access door feels pretty weak with the broken pad.
Except for the feet, the bottom of the Envy 14 is relatively slippery. There's the aforementioned access door that hides the removable battery and hard drive.
When opening the lid we see the beautiful Infinity display with the Beats Audio logo on the top left and the Envy 14 emblem on the right. The display has a resolution of 1366 x 768, which doesn't quite match the 1600 x 900 pixels found on last year's Radiance display. Unfortunately, HP is no longer offering the Radiance display option as they couldn't get enough from suppliers for 2011. Above the display is a "Skype-certified" 720p webcam with microphones on both sides of the lens.
Also returned is the full-size chiclet backlit keyboard that feels great when you type. There are no dedicated media keys, but the function keys in the top row double as secondary keys without first pressing the Fn key. For example, if you press F5, the backlight turns on instead of refreshing the currently displayed page.
The touchpad and the click buttons are again integrated in one unit. I've had mixed experiences with it in the past. some good, mostly bad. Last year's Envy 14 was one of the worst, but HP told us that these issues were fixed thanks to a new ImagePad that is more accurate and can handle more fingers at once. We'll examine these in more detail next.