HP Envy 17 3D Review

FYI – Get a great deal on it here.

Well, I went and did it . . . a hard drive crash on my old faithful Thinkpad put me over the edge for something new. I’d been eyeballing the Envy 17 for quite some time for it’s great reviews of screen quality, processor and overall performance, so I bit the bullet.

Let’s say I’m not disappointed. This upgrade moved me from a Core 2 Duo up to a screaming Core i7 quad core chip (8 threads). Also, it’s a 64 bit version of Windows 7 with 6 GB of RAM . . . a very welcome change of pace. I won’t bore with details, but suffice it to say this is a great machine for graphics processing. I’ll go through a quick list of likes/dislikes.

What I like:

Screen – this 17+ inch screen is 1920×1080 (full HD) and is, in a word, gorgeous. It’s amazing what improvements have been made over the past few years. This LED backlit screen leaps at you. I don’t use the full brightness, so it’s more than ample. The glossy screen takes some getting used too, but doesn’t nag too much. It is a 3D screen, but I don’t use it for such – the 120 Hz screen is smooth as butter.

Speed – I’m running 64 bit CS5 suite and it runs very well. 64 Bit Photoshop is great and the 6 GB of RAM really helps out for large files. Most any application runs very well and the large amount of cache on the chip makes common instructions repeat super fast. Since this i7 allows for 8 threads at the same time, multi-threaded apps really scream . . . I just wish there were more available.

Keyboard – while it’s not the same feel as my beloved Thinkpad, the keyboard is enjoyable. What I really like, and didn’t realize I missed, is the number pad available for the right side. Typing is quite comfortable once I adapted to the large island style keys. Back lighting is a nice touch for nighttime work.

What I’m not fond of (but can live with):

Heat – if you’ve read reviews on hight heat from this laptop . . . they’re right. It’s not a deal breaker, but there is a definite ramp up of heat as the processor gets busy. I work at a desk most of the time, so this only affects me during typing and it’s not a big aggravation.

Battery – HP includes an extra battery that is extended, and I can get an hour of normal work in before it needs changing . . . as I said, I’m tethered to a desk most of the time, so this doesn’t affect me so much. Still, not so great to kick back on the couch.

Beats Audio – wow, I really wanted this to be more than it is . . . most reviews were favorable for the Beats audio on the Envy models, but I’m finding it no better than my old laptop. I’ve tried several settings, but it just doesn’t do any better (in some cases worse) than my old Thinkpad. No biggie as I plug in to speakers, but I was disappointed in the lack of clarity for what was promoted.

Perks and Misnomers

One thing I think I’m really going to like, once I make room, is the multi monitor aspect of this machine. You can run the laptop monitor as well as two other monitors at the same time . . . makes for great work space.

Many have griped about the finicky trackpad. There is a tendency to hold your “click”finger on the pad while trying to move the cursor which, in turn, cancels out the motion. This is managed better with repetition, so after a few instances, I figured out the pattern. Not a bother to me.

Overall, I am very satisfied with this notebook after two weeks. I think I’ll get several years of use from this laptop and am impressed with HP’s gaming laptop.