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HP Envy Ultrabook and Envy Sleekbook review – Hands On

  • HP Envy Ultrabook left hand side
  • HP Envy Ultrabook black and red
  • HP Envy Ultrabook black and red side
  • HP Envy Ultrabook keyboard
  • HP Envy Ultrabook front
  • HP Envy Ultrabook base
  • HP Envy Ultrabook 'tent'
  • HP Envy Ultrabook right hand side

We've already taken a look at HP's premium Ultrabook, the HP Envy Spectre XT, but the company has also released a couple of more budget ultra-portables using both Intel and AMD chips.

The HP Envy Ultrabook is the version that meets Intel's Ultrabook specification, including being less than 21mm thick and containing an Intel processor. However, HP has also released the HP Envy Sleekbook, which is a touch thicker, quite a bit cheaper and has a choice of Intel or AMD processors.

HP Envy Ultrabook left hand side

Full-size Ethernet and USB ports are good to see.

The good thing about the depth of both models is that there's plenty of room for full-sized ports and there's no need for HP to resort to providing Ethernet via a USB adaptor. To that end, then, the laptop houses full-size Gigabit Ethernet, USB3 and HDMI ports. There is also an SDXC memory card slot.

Both models look extremely similar and you'd be hard-pushed to tell the difference from pictures alone. This is a good thing in our opinion, as we're quite fond on HP's design.

Although the plain metal version of the chassis is attractive enough, it's the black model with the red underside that really caught our attention. It's enough to make the laptop stick out, but subtle enough that it's not overly garish. As with the Spectre XT, the case is metal, giving these laptops a classy look.

HP Envy Ultrabook black and red

There's a plain metal version available, but the black and red HP Envy is way more attractive.

In addition to a choice of colours, there's also a choice of screen size to choose from, with 14in and 15.6in models to choose from. Even with the slightly smaller case, this range of ultra-portable laptops is a little thicker and heavier than most other Ultrabooks, with the 14in Ultrabook starting at 19.8mm thick and weighing 1.79kg. There were no specifications available for the other models, but they'll be slightly heavier and, in the case of the Sleekbook models, slightly thicker.

All models have a Chiclet-style keyboard, which seems standard on ultra-portable laptops. We had chance to play with one on a 15.6in model and found it generally responsive to type on. A large touchpad, called by HP the Imagepad, is used for mouse control. We like the way that you can double-tap the top left to disable it, making sure you don't accidentally move the cursor while typing a long document. It supports multi-touch gestures, although Windows 7's support isn't particularly smooth.

HP Envy Ultrabook keyboard

We like the way that the touchpad can be turned off with a double-tap to its top-left corner.

Where you start to get the real differences is whether you go for the Ultra-book version or not. With the Envy Ultrabook you get Intel Rapid Start for fast boot times from the included mSATA drive, and Intel SmartConnect, which periodically pulls the laptop out of sleep mode to check for email.

All models have HP Coolsense, which is designed to help keep the laptop cool and comfortable to use. It uses both engineering to place vents out of the way and a motion sensor to detect where the laptop is and adjust the cooling automatically.

With the Sleekbook line you just get a choice on an Intel processor for the 14.6in model or an AMD APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) for the 15in model. Both of these models can be optionally upgraded with a discrete graphics card for better gaming, although the exact models of graphics chip have not yet been announced.

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