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HP Envy 14-1050ea review

Barry de la Rosa
17 Nov 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,000
inc VAT

A well-built, powerful and portable laptop. It's a little heavier than we'd like, but battery life is good

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Specifications

14.5 in 1,366x768 display, 2.4kg, 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-450M, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

HP's Envy 14 is without a doubt a head-turning laptop. Its clean lines look stunning, with rounded edges, a dimpled bronze finish and an edge-to-edge display. It's seriously well-built too, thanks to an aluminium and magnesium chassis which leads to a rigid lid and sturdy keyboard panel.

HP Envy 14-1050ea

The Chiclet-style keys are backlit and have a pleasant, light action. Small LED indicators on the respective keys let you know if CapsLock, Wi-Fi or audio are on or off. We don't like the way the Function keys have been swapped, though: to press F7, for example, you have to press Fn plus the "Volume Down" key. However, unlike the larger Envy 17, the 14 doesn't have annoying half-size up and down cursor keys.

The touchpad looks stylish, as it's made from a single panel, with areas marked by lines where the buttons should be. The whole panel moves when you press these and, although the action is light and there's a distinct "click", the button areas are still sensitive to touch, so the cursor often moves when you least want it to - at exactly the moment you're about to click.

HP Envy 14-1050ea left

Altogether more exciting is the presence of the Beats Audio branding, backed by rapper Dr Dre, which promises better bass and lets people "listen to the music the way they should: the way I do", according to the man himself. We read this quote in the Quick Setup guide, and it was a good job we opened it otherwise we wouldn't have known about the Fn+B key combination that enables the beats Audio bass technology - it isn't marked on the laptop itself.

Pressing this combination produces deeper bass sounds, but we're not sure why would you want to disable it. Without it, sounds are awfully tinny - worse than the cheapest netbook speakers. Even with Beats Audio enabled, volume isn't that high, although the sound is reasonably clear, and the mid-range is almost entirely lacking. The speakers on Asus' N73Jn put the Envy's to shame, and if you're into music and don't need the portability, the Asus is a far better choice.

HP Envy 14-1050ea right

Portability is one of the Envy 14's advantages as, unlike other powerful desktop replacement laptops, it has a 14.5in screen and weighs 2.4kg. It also ran for over five hours in our light-use battery test. The screen's 1,366x768 resolution is fine at this size (although 1,600x900 would have been better) and the LED backlight is even and reasonably bright, plus contrast is good. Colour accuracy isn't the best we've seen, but it isn't a major problem.

There's no Blu-ray drive, but you'll be able to play 3D games thanks to the ATI Radeon HD 5650 graphics card with 1GB of RAM. This managed almost 40fps in our Call of Duty 4 test, and also has HDMI and mini DisplayPort outputs. Performance from the Intel Core i5 450M was excellent, and a score of 90 overall makes the Envy 14 ideal for photo, video and audio applications. With 4GB of RAM you'll be able to work with large files, and the 500GB hard disk provides ample room for storage.

The Beats Audio branding is simply a marketing ploy, and adds little value to the Envy. However, at least the warranty includes collect-and-return cover. If you're after a top-quality laptop with excellent 2D and 3D performance that you can take with you on the occasional trip, it's a good choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i5-450M
Processor clock speed2.4GHz
Memory4.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size28x356x237mm
Weight2.4kg
SoundIDT HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size14.5 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA HD/ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
Graphics/video portsHDMI, Mini DisplayPort
Graphics Memory1,024MB

Storage

Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11a/b/g/n
PC Card slotsnone
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack headphone/microphone shared input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedCyberlink DVD Suite 7, Corel VideoStudio X3, Corel PaintShop Pro X3
Optional extras£126

Buying Information

Warrantyone year collect and return
Price£1,000
Detailswww.hp.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.dixons.co.uk

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