HP has been very eager to take the Envy line in an Ultrabook direction, leaving performance hounds a bit wanting. Much to their (and our) relief, the full-fat Envy 15, Envy 17, and Envy 17 3D have all made the leap to Intel’s latest round of Ivy Bridge processors. Along with the 2.3GHz to 2.7GHz quad Core i7 chips we all know and love, the Envy 15 and regular 17 can get a dual 2.5GHz Core i5 to keep the price slightly closer to Earth. All of them ship with an equally upgraded AMD Radeon HD 7850M to give games that extra jolt of energy, and you won’t find one with less than 6GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive. Should you like the Envy’s current formula and just wish it had that much more oomph, you can pay a post-discount $1,100, $1,250 or $1,530 to bring one to your door.
If there’s one thing we took away from our jaunt at CES, it’s this: consumers’ appetites for mainstream laptops haven’t waned all that much. Even in the Ultrabook category, Intel expects half of the models to go on sale this year will have 14- and 15-inch screens — as strong an indicator as any that lots of folks aren’t yet ready to give up their slightly larger screens, their discrete graphics, their (gasp!) optical drives. While HP recently announced its first Ultrabook for the consumer market, the Envy 14 Spectre, it’s fully fleshed out its premium Envy series to include two additional models for people who crave more oomph.
The Envy 15 is the medium-sized member of the crew, with a 15.6-inch screen and the same overhauled design you’ll find across the Envy lineup. Delightfully, too, it marks the return of HP’s eye-popping Radiance display, and also comes with a generous two-year warranty and full copies of Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements. And with a starting price of $1,100, it sharply undercuts the 15-inch MacBook Pro, while taking direct aim at other high-end 15-inchers, like the Dell XPS 15z and Samsung Series 7 Chronos. So how does it stack up? Meet us after the break to find out.
Just last month, we off-handedly said that HP’s Envy laptops were among the most shameless MacBook impersonations we’ve seen. Looks like we spoke too soon: the company just introduced a redesigned Envy 15, Envy 17 and Envy 17 3D, and we have to say: the interior here is just uncanny. If you ask company reps, they’ll tell you the old taupe design was too masculine (despite the divets arranged in a floral pattern!), and that the new aesthetic is more gender-neutral. Fair enough, we suppose, though we defy you to tell us that touchpad, silvery aluminum chassis and black, chiclet-style keyboard aren’t familiar. To be fair, it’s not a complete facsimile: HP also throw in a few design flourishes of its own, most of them Beats-inspired. Chief among them is a red-accented, analog volume dial on the right side of the keyboard deck, though the black lid and thin red strip around the keyboard also add some kick.
All three laptops will be available December 7th, with the Envy 15, Envy 17 and Envy 17 3D starting at $1,100, $1,250 and $1,600, respectively. For now, though, we’ve got hands-on shots below, along with a rundown of the starting specs just past the break.