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HP Envy 17 Touchscreen - Feel the Power!

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HP Envy 17 Touchscreen Laptop


The HP Envy 17" Touchscreen with Beats has the usual mix: Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good: You can get the 4th generation Intel Core i7 4900 running at 2.8GHz. It's got the horsepower to handle most anything you want to do. Just be sure to get the NVIDIA GeForce GT740M for graphics. The native Intel chipset just isn't up to anything more than your daily newspaper. CoolSense is a very nice feature from HP that kicks in to keep the surface feeling somewhere between cool and not uncomfortable. Today's desktop replacements have so much going on that the power used generates a considerable amount of heat, so this is more than just a "nice to have". Battery life isn't great, but considering the power usage, it's not bad. Fingerprint readers have come a long way and the one here is pretty good. It only takes a couple of swipes of train it and the accuracy is much better than what you would expect. The screen is bright and the resolution is very good if you get the high-end option. Even Windows 8.1 works rather well with the Metro interface on the touchscreen.

Let's talk about good touch and bad touch. The sensitivity is dialed in quite well with one exception. If the surface contact patch shifts from the one side of your finger to the other too quickly, the system loses track and odd things happen, depending on what program you're using. SimpleMind, for example, let's a shape drop back to it's original position. The spring on the screen is calibrated well for touch screen work.

The Bad: Beats Audio is just pitiful. You can't get water from a stone and you can't get really great audio from those tiny speakers, no matter what name you put on it. If there's a way to turn on the keyboard backlight permanently, your intrepid reviewer hasn't found it. That's annoying for someone who works late nights. Cord length is a bit shy of optimal if you want to reach the plug at Starbucks. Avid the SSD options offered by HP. They are way overpriced for what you get. Buy the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SATA III and port the whole system once you get it all set up. The default options running at 5400 RPM are pretty sad ways to punch up HP's margin.

The Ugly: To save weight, the case construction feels way too flimsy for such an expensive piece of hardware. The finish wears quickly, so get ready for the hobo look on your high-end laptop.

Overall, catch this one on sale, avoid the sad hard drive options and truly pitiful Beats, then stack it to the max on CPU, GPU, memory and screen resolution. You'll be glad you did. Given the way HP is trying to jump their profit by putting out less than great products, this is a rare find.