HP has managed to follow up its MacBook Pro rivals, with its release of the Envy 14. With this model, the manufacturer has managed to make some main enhancements in design, ergonomics, quality, performance and value too. One thing that is highly trending right now, is kitting them with some real high-end speaker systems. Asus was one of the first to do so with their Bang and Olufsen NX90 notebook and MSi shortly followed with the GX660R, a machine that boasts a Dynaudio system embedded in the chassis. HP seems to have taken an alternate route with HP Envy 14 Beats Edition and has employed the help and expertise of legendary Hip Hop producer Dr Dre and his Beats brand that manufactures high end headphones. If you happen to think that the HP Envy 14 was not for you, then this one will be a good treat for you. Read on to find out more about its computing capabilities and more about the all important audio.
Aesthetically, the HP Envy 14 Beats Edition’s design is very much like its forerunner, the Envy 15. Replacing the original Envy’s taupe, etched aluminium and magnesium body, is smooth matt black. That matte finish does have a tendency to attract fingerprints and smudges, so beware if you are the kind of compulsive polisher who needs their tech to remain pristine at all times. There is also a red coloured Dr. Dre logo that is placed notably at the centre of the laptop’s lid, and this motif extends on to the deck , with its red accents and even some red backlit keys. The soft touch coated palm rest is very likable and it has a mostly smooth black bottom. This is where you can attach the optional battery piece.
A bit beefy:
Since the Beats Edition now has an optical drive, the dimensions of the laptop is slightly thicker at (H x W x D) 14 x 9.3 x 1.1inches. However, it is still easy to be slide into a messenger bag, it is just that you have to be prepared to carry around some weight (5.6 Pounds) which is same as the 15” Macbook Pro and heavier than the original Envy 14. Nevertheless, it is one of the tightest looking notebooks in the current market. This laptop is definitely more of a desktop replacement, portable in principle, but primarily to squat on a desk providing all manner of multimedia delights through a multitude of ports.
HP has opted for a new 14.5″ widescreen offering a pretty good deal of balance between the extra screen real estate and portability. Unfortunately, the users of the Envy 14 Beats will not be able to enjoy the Radiance Infinity Screen with a resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels that was on the Envy 14. This one has a display of resolution 1366 x 768 pixels, displays up to 82% of colour gamut and possesses a maximum brightness of 350nits. The colours on the videos are bright, crisp and simply popped off the screen. And, the blacks were also deep and lustrous sans any artifacts. When compared to a 13” MacBook Pro, the Envy 14 Beats Edition was pretty evenly matched. Though certain videos were slightly crisper, but it was a pretty fine point. The viewing angles are excellent, but the glossy finish kicks back a lot of reflections in brighter settings.
The keyboard too is very similar to the previous Envys; the Envy 14 Beats edition Laptop features a black island style keyboard. So, what is new? The backlighting is. Though you can do only two things to it On or OFF, when compared to the range of gradient lighting settings on the MacBook Pros, it is quite a good addition. The soft surface of the buttons and the lack of loosening were kind of likable while typing, but at times, you may have to press harder than usual. We welcome the ‘quick access keys’ to adjust the brightness and volume.
This time again HP has integrated the mouse buttons into the touchpad, which is quite spacious at 4.25 x 2.5”. Though we wished that it had been slightly toward the left, it did not cause any real issues that were evident on the Envy 15, such as the palm moving accidentally onto the cursor. The overall navigation was pretty simple, the way it should be.
Slots and Connectivity:
In response to some desperate reviewers and user suggestions, HP has added an optical drive to the Envy 14 Beats Edition Notebook PC. In the left side of the system, you will find the slot loading dual layer DVD-RW, a combo mic/headphone port (that works with the Solo Beats), along with two USB ports, and a headphone jack. On the right are an HDMI, eSATA/USB, Ethernet, mini DisplayPort, and a Kensington lock slot. On the front, there is a two in one memory card reader and there is also a webcam stuck on the bezel just above the display. The lack of Blu-ray is disappointing, especially considering how much you are shelling out for the privilege. There is also no VGA on board, which limits your video-output options.
The webcam employed on the Envy 14 Beats Edition is capable of high definition video and also has some low light capabilities. The video looks little washed out , but there was plenty of detail and the colours are quite accurate. In very low light, the hair and room surrounding will not be clear, but the subject face and clothing is as clear as if it was day time.
The Envy 15 Beats Edition Laptop included a premium Software that was designed to attract music aficionados, including Native Instruments’ Traktor LE software and Audio 2 DJ. Determining that this bundle added too much to the cost, HP no longer pre-loads this software. However, the Envy 14 Beats does come with the Beats Audio equaliser utility. HP branded applications and utilities proliferate. HP QuickWeb is an instant-on environment that allows you to surf the Web and chat on Skype, among other things. HP also includes a small utility called Fences that is intended to keep your desktop looking tidy; it allows you create small windows where you can store shortcuts to apps. HP’s MediaSmart suite includes programs for watching DVDs, listening to music, viewing and editing photos and home videos, recording webcam videos and watching TV. Other nice extras include the full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 and Adobe Premiere Elements 8.0. We also like that Hulu Desktop and Microsoft Silverlight come pre-loaded, so users can get right to watching streaming video.
Boot and file transfer:
The insides of the Envy 14 Beats Edition include a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-450M processor and 4GB of RAM. That is serious voodoo, especially when you complete the unholy triumvirate with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD5650 graphics card. Performance wise, it is very similar to the Envy 14, which is no surprise. It is better than the Toshiba Satellite M645, which too has the same processor and RAM, but a slower hard drive. The laptop booted into the Windows 7 Home Premium faster than the original , taking just about 53 seconds as opposed to the long 1 minute and 22 seconds. Though the 500GB, 7200rpm hard drive did not perform as well as the original, scoring just 25.1 MBps on file transfer, compared to 29.8MBps. However, the drive is faster than the average thin and light.
Moving on to the graphics, the Envy 14 Beats has two graphics cards; ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 and Intel GMA HD. Unfortunately, ATI is yet to come up with a seamless way to switch between the two, that is the Nvinda’s Optimus Technology. The device automatically switches to integrated mode when you unplug it, otherwise, you have to do it manually and there is a second or so when the screen goes black. The good news here is that, this discrete GPU is more than capable of playing the latest titles.
The Wireless scores performance of the Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 Wi-Fi card is a mixed bag, though not identical to the original Envy 14 with the same wireless card. At 15 feet from the access point, there is decent throughput of 37.9 Mbps, less than the 48 Mbps the original scored, but above the average, which is 29 Mbps. At 50 feet, throughput dropped to 20.9 Mbps, which is not stunning, but above the original’s 18.3 MBps, and just above the 20.5 Mbps average.
As you might expect out of a laptop named “Envy 14 Beats Audio Edition”, the audio is simply mind blowing. This laptop features some rather tasty speakers on the front edge that produces some powerful sound to fill a medium sized room, but we felt the bass was a little weak. The audio is impeccable when connected into the included Solo Beats Headphones. This magical combination resulted in some bass that came through deep and warm. If you are just kicking back with some YouTube video it will enhance your experience, but for proper audio enjoyment you will want something better. You will be able to do a pretty comprehensive spread of tweaks for equalizer settings in the Beats Audio Control Panel. You will also be able to save your presets if the included settings are not very convincing for you. You will be able to get complexities not only with the music from a wide range of genres, but also while watching TV and movies. While listening to a live performance of a rock artist, we were able to hear the whispers of the crowd while the artist wailed with his harmonica.
One of the biggest issues with the original Envy15 was that, it had really poor heat dissipation; its quad-core CPU raised the touchpad to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and that of the wrist rest to 103 degrees. Fortunately, the HP Envy 14 is not so much of a heater. After about 15 minutes of continuous video, the touchpad measured 87 degrees, in-between G and H, it was 91 degrees and the middle of the underside is somewhat uncomfy at 101 degrees, when compared to Envy 14’s measurement of 81, 82 and 98 respectively. The heat by the vent even reaches an unpleasant 107 degrees.
Endurance is one area where the Envy 14 Beats Edition is lacking. When on integrated graphics mode, the laptop managed to last 4 hours and 20 minutes. This period is about 20 minutes shy of average thin and light laptop and is well below 13” MacBook Pro. HP sells a slice battery that should double this notebook’s runtime, but will also add 1.5 pounds to this already beefy machine.
Configurations wise, you always have the original Envy 14, but when configured to match the Beats Edition’s specifications, it actually comes to less than the original version. The other options include upgrades to more powerful Core i5 and quad-core Core i7 CPUs; extra RAM up to 8GB; a 640GB or 750GB hard drive or a 256GB solid state drive; and an extra slice battery. There is no option to upgrade to the higher resolution display too.
This series is backed by a two years HP limited warranty on parts and labour, and 24×7 toll free technical support. E-mail a question and receive an answer in about an hour, and Take advantage of on-line chat, FAQs, and other resources. You can even click on the desktop icon for quick access to on-line support.
HP positively got more right in the second generation Envy 14 than it did with the 13 and 15-inch releases from last year. The HP Envy 14 Beats Edition has dumped the professional grade mixing tools that the 15” model offered in exchange for a much lower price tag. Some of the highlight special features of the laptop are mostly related to its aesthetic flourishes and the bundled high end headphones we had mentioned above, but the difference is that, you will be paying much less (about half of it). As a result of it, you have a slick laptop in your hand that pumps out the best audio we had ever heard from a laptop for a very reasonable premium over the original Envy 14. If you are willing forgive the relatively short battery life, this laptop is definitely worth the investment; you are getting a machine with a comparable display, better graphics, superior audio, and a better look.
|Processor||Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-460M Dual Core Processor (2.53 GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 2.8GHz
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-480M Dual Core Processor (2.66GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 2.93GHz
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-560M Dual Core Processor (2.66 GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-580M Dual Core Processor (2.66GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 3.33GHz
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-720QM Quad Core processor (1.6GHz, 6MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 2.8 GHz
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-740QM Quad Core processor (1.73GHz, 6MB L3 Cache) w/Turbo Boost up to 2.93 GHz
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-840QM Quad Core processor (1.86GHz,8MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 3.2 GHz
|Memory||4GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
6GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
8GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
|Hard drive||640GB 7200RPM Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
750GB 5400RPM Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
256GB (Solid State Drive Flash Module)
|Graphics Card||1GB ATI Mobility Radeon(TM) HD 5650 switchable graphics [HDMI] – For Dual Core Processors
1GB ATI Mobility Radeon(TM) HD 5650 graphics [HDMI] – For Quad Core Processors
|OS||Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Genuine Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
|Battery||8 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (standard) – Up to 6.0 hours of battery life +++
Two 8 Cell Lithium Ion Batteries (standard)
One 8 Cell Lithium Ion (standard) + HP ENVY 6-cell Slim Fit Extended-Life Battery (over-sized)
HP Envy 14 Beats Edition Laptop – Technical Specification Table
|Model Name||HP Envy 14 Beats Edition|
|Display type||High Definition HP BrightView Infinity LED Display|
|Display resolution||1366 x 768 pixels|
|Dimensions||14.01″ (W) x 9.33″ (D) x 1.16″ ( H)|
|Memory card reader||Multi-Format Digital Media Card Reader|
|Accessible memory slots||2|
|Maximum Memory Expansion||8GB|
|Hard Drive Protection||HP ProtectSmart protects the hard drive & data|
|Optical Drive||Internal slot|
|Webcam||HP TrueVision HD Webcam|
|Networking||Intel Wireless-N Card with Bluetooth|
|Primary optical drive||SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support|
|Audio||Beats(TM) audio for superior sound|
|Software included||Microsoft Security Essentials
HP MediaSmart puts Entertainment at your fingertips
Roxio BackOnTrack 4 Deluxe
Adobe(R) Photoshop(R) Elements 8 &
Adobe Premiere(R) Elements 8
|Network Card||External 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN RJ-45 connect|
|Ports||3 USB (3rd shared with eSATA port), HDMI|
|Additional ports||mini-Display Port, RJ-45|
|Accessories||HP Notebook Slim Travel Power Adapter – 90W|
|Battery life||Up to 6.0 hours of battery life (8 cell)+++|
|Warranty||Two years limited warranty for parts and labour|