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HP Envy 6 review

Tom Morgan
31 Jul 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
699.99
inc VAT

An Ultrabook with a 10-hour battery life and strong performance for just £700 - the Envy 6 is a steal

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Specifications

15.6 in 1,366x768 display, 2.2kg, 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-3317U, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

HP’s Envy label has always been reserved for premium products with flashy design and strong performance, so it came as no surprise when the company announced its latest line of Ultrabooks would carry the Envy label. The 15.6in Envy 6 is a slim and light Ultrabook for a very reasonable £700.

HP Envy 6

In keeping with HP’s collaboration with Beats Audio, the Envy 6 is adorned in a mixture of black brushed metal and red rubberised plastic, which gives it a style you wouldn’t expect for the price of the laptop. Despite being just 20mm thick, the chassis still has room for plenty of ports, including three USB, two of which are USB3, a multi-format card reader, HDMI, Ethernet and twin 3.5mm audio jacks.

HP Envy 6

The dark colour scheme continues inside, with an all-black keyboard tray and metal-effect touchpad. This looks great, but it’s a shame the keyboard tray isn’t backlit to make it easier to use the laptop in low lighting. The Chiclet-style keys are all full-size and well-spaced for comfortable typing, with a reasonable amount of travel. They are springy enough to bounce back quickly, providing plenty of tactile feedback to your fingers as you type. By default, the function keys are mapped to HP's own shortcuts, but you can change this behaviour in the BIOS.

We haven't been particularly impressed with HP's touchpads in the past, mainly because they've used an all-in-one design where the buttons are part of the touchpad. This design may not have changed, but the driver software certainly has, as we had none of the problems we've experienced in the past – the Envy 6's touchpad was responsive and accurate, recognising multi-touch gestures and making it easy to navigate the Windows desktop. We especially like the way a double-tap to the top left corner will disable the touchpad completely, which is useful when you're using a separate mouse and don’t want touchpad taps interfering with your typing.

HP Envy 6

Our first real criticism of the laptop centres on the display. A 1,366x768 resolution is standard for the price, but the image quality isn't anything to shout about. The glossy finish gives colours plenty of pop, but also makes light reflections a real issue, although there is at least a decent amount of screen tilt to counter the effect. Viewing angles are very shallow, so we noticed changing colours when we weren't looking at the laptop straight on, and the screen isn't particularly bright, so it was difficult to pick out the details in some of our darker test images. The screen has been the highlight of other Envy laptops we've seen, so it’s disappointing to see such a basic one here.