Notebooks Guide

HP Envy 15 (2012) review

HP Envy 15 - 15 Inches of Envy

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Overall rating 8/10
Beats Audio jog dial
All aluminum exterior
Full HD screen
Good audio quality
Removable battery
Quite heavy

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket

Opening the lid to access the interior is a delightful one handed affair; two small but tight metal hinges hold the screen in place. Once the notebook is opened, you will notice that the interior is devoid of attention seeking features. Besides the Beats audio button on the right, the black chiclet keys, and a large clickable trackpad in the center, there's not much else. Probably the next aspect that you may notice is a red line running around the keyboard island that complements the Beats theme.  


Upon closer inspection however, you will realize that the keyboard housing and palm rest are two separate pieces. And if you were to press down on the buttons hard enough, you can actually separate the two pieces. A design like this would usually allow dust and hair to get into the interior of the machine. However in this case, you’d need to press down on it really hard in order to make any opening large enough for dust to get through, so it’s more of an observation than a real concern.

Though the individually lit keys on the chiclet keyboard are made of plastic, typing on it is quite a comfortable experience with plenty of key travel. However, the keys do have a bit of a mushy feedback rather than a more positively reassuring tactile feedback. On the bright side, typing is quiet and definitely not annoying. Thanks to the metal housing of the keyboard island, there isn’t much flex either. There is however a curious omission of a number pad, which is something you’d normally get on notebooks of this size. For the number mashers, you would probably find the wasted space on the sides of the notebook annoying. In our opinion, HP wanted to have a neat interior design rather than cramp the numpad in for the sake of functionality. Depending on your needs and expectations, this design tradeoff may affect your buying decision for the Envy 15.

With plenty of unused real estate on the sides of the keyboard, HP instead opted to put the "Beats" dial on the right side of the machine. The big jog dial normally only controls volume, but when you click on it, the Beats branded volume control pops up. Gimmicky yes, but we're nevertheless content on the controls available to adjust the notebook's audio system.This feature is integral (or even a major selling point) to the success of the HP Envy 15 and its Beats branding. By now, many consumers would probably associate the Beats branding with high quality audio and that's certainly advantageous to the Envy 15's desirability.

To make sure that the Beats branding isn’t just for show, HP made sure that the speakers found on the machine are reasonably good too. Like we mentioned earlier, audio from the machine is loud enough to fill a good sized conference room and is further augmented with a couple of subwoofers at the base of the machine. The best part is when you crank up the volume all the way, the audio doesn’t get muddled or intolerable the way most entry-level speakers do.

To ensure the overall multimedia experience is good, the notebook is paired with a gorgeous 15.6-inch Radiance Full HD Infinity LED-backlit display (1920 x 1080 pixels resolution). Now we don’t know what the "infinity" stands for, but what we do know is that the screen quality is definitely one of the best in this class of notebooks. Photos and videos came out looking vibrant and beautiful on its display. The only issue we have is that the screen is glossy and viewing it in a bright environment could cause a bit of frustration. On the other hand, it is also due to the glossy screen that we’re able to appreciate the rich and crisp colors. As always, it’s a give and take situation with regards to glossy screens and one has to be well aware of its advantages and limitations. Matte screen options aren't available.

Another of our favorite features on the Envy 15 is the large clickable glass trackpad. It’s shaped more rectangular than squarish, and has an outline reminding users where the left/right click-able areas are located. There is also a soft switch that turns off the trackpad for intensive typing. Usability of the trackpad is fairly comfortable, but its top corners are not as responsive to clicking as we’d like them to be. Though it's not a serious issue, some would find this irritating and we would recommend you to give it a try at the store. Otherwise you can easily solve the problem by using a mouse.