HP Envy 15 review

HP's Envy 15 takes on Apple at its own game, but proves sinful in all the wrong ways

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Price when reviewed 
1,199

Page 1 of 2 HP Envy 15 review

With the arrival of its new high-end range of laptops, one manufacturer would have us believe that imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery. Lightweight, slender and sheathed in aluminium – no, we’re not talking about Apple’s metal-framed MacBooks - HP’s Envy range comes dressed to impress.

And just like Apple’s own, the Envy seeks to weave its magic before you’ve even laid eyes on the laptop itself. The black cardboard box is bare, aside from the silver Envy logo at the very centre, the tight-fitting lid sliding off with agonising slowness. In the box the laptop, external DVD writer and power supply nestle in their own perfectly moulded compartments.

If all this effort is designed to set the stage for a truly dramatic entrance then, initially at least, it works. For a 15.6in laptop, the cold, metal chassis of the Envy 15 feels uncommonly light. Shirking an integrated optical drive has certainly helped trim the fat: at just 2.38kg this HP is as light as desktop replacement notebooks get. It’s thin, too, at a mere 28mm tall.

HP Envy 15 rear

But as distracting as the Envy 15s vital statistics might be, there’s something undeniably underwhelming about the whole affair. There’s certainly no attempt to mimic the uncluttered simplicity of the MacBook Pro’s plain, brushed aluminium finish.

Instead, HP has really gone to town. Tiny geometric dimples create the impression of spirals that coat the lid and reach across the wristrest, while the dark grey finish reaches inside and pools between the black Scrabble-tile keys. It all sounds impressive but, in the flesh, it just doesn’t thrill like it should.

So, shallow-minded souls might not warm to the Envy’s visual charms, but the HP definitely punches well above its weight when it comes to performance. The sting in the Envy’s tail is delivered by one of Intel’s new Core i7 processors: the i7-720QM. It’s something we’d expect to find in a heavyweight gaming laptop, such as the Alienware M15x, but to find it in the 2.38kg Envy 15 is something of a surprise.

The i7-720QM is right at home too, thanks to a capable supporting cast: 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard disk and a 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Home Premium. And, with a result of 1.57 in our application benchmarks, the Envy 15 proves that it’s effortlessly capable of keeping up with the burliest of desktop replacements. What comes as even more of a surprise is that there’s an equally capable graphics chipset in tow. ATI’s Mobility Radeon HD 4830 didn’t run out of breath until taxed with our most demanding Crysis benchmark, and even then emerged with an impressive average of 19fps.

Page 1 of 2 HP Envy 15 review

Price when reviewed 
1,199(£1043 exc VAT)

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 381 x 245 x 28mm (WDH)
Weight 2.360kg
Travelling weight 3.2kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-720QM
Motherboard chipset Intel PM55
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD4830
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST950032AS
Optical disc technology External DVD writer
Optical drive HP
Battery capacity 4,700mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset IDT HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 2.0mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 2hr 32min
Overall application benchmark score 1.55
Office application benchmark score 1.32
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.79
Encoding application benchmark score 1.42
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.69
3D performance (crysis) low settings 102fps

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs

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