The Bottom Line
Jul 12 2012 - Even with its fairly dated design now, the HP Envy 17 has a bit more appeal since Apple has dropped its 17-inch MacBook Pro. While it still isn't the thinnest on the market, it is fairly compact for a 17-inch laptop but still packs a lot of performance regardless of what it might be used for. The peripheral connectivity has been greatly improved over past versions and the Radiance display offers one of the best pictures possible. There are small problems that plague the system from being a real standout particular with the smaller and slower memory for a premium class laptop.
- Strong Performance
- Radiance Display One of the Best Available in 17-inch Laptop
- Excellent Number of Peripheral Ports
- Amount And Speed Of Memory A Bit Disappointing
- Design Feels A Bit Dated Now
- Intel Core i7-3610QM Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Blu-ray Reader And Dual Layer DVD Burner Combo Drive
- 17.3" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- AMD Radeon HD 7850M Dedicated Graphics With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Four USB 3.0, Two mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, 2-in-1 Card Reader
- 16.4" x 10.8" x 1.3" @ 7.4 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, Photoshop and Premiere Elements, PowerDVD
Review - HP Envy 17-3270nr
Jul 12 2012 - HP has taken its Envy 17 design released several years ago and brought it up to date with Intel's latest processor offerings. For the most part, little has changed in the overall design which still consists of an aluminum exterior with isolated keyboard layout so reminiscent of the MacBook Pro's. With Apple discontinuing the 17-inch version though, it is now one of the thinner 17-inch laptops on the market.
For the processor, HP has used the Ivy Bridge based Intel Core i7-3610QM quad core processor. This is the lowest of the quad core i7 processors but the performance is still quite strong regardless of which type of application you might be running including such demanding ones as desktop video editing. The processor is matched up with 6GB of DDR3 which does provide a smooth overall experience with Windows but is disappointing in two ways. First, most laptops in this price range come equipped with 8GB of memory that allow for better multitasking capabilities. Second, the memory use the slower 1333MHz speed while much of the competition now uses 1600MHz RAM.
Storage for the Envy 17-3270nr relies on the traditional hard drive with a fairly typical 750GB storage capacity. It spins at the faster 7200rpm rate more typical of desktop drives which gives it a decent level of performance. It still falls short of what can be achieved with a solid state drive either for primary storage or used as a cache for the primary drive. If you need more storage space, HP has increased the number of USB 3.0 ports to four compared to the single one before and the two most of its competitors have. Optical storage is a bit more encouraging as HP has decided to include a Blu-ray compatible drive to allow the system to be used as a mobile high definition video platform. The drive also handles both CD and DVD media for playback or recording.
One of the unique aspects of the HP Envy 17-3270nr is the graphics system. The 17.3-inch display uses the Radiance panel that features a native resolution of 1920x1080 and offers a much brighter and colorful picture than your average 17-inch panel. While it doesn't quite match the capability of the smaller Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina, it still is one of the best 17-inch panels available. The graphics portion is handled by an AMD Radeon HD 7850M graphics processor compared to most that have switched to the new NVIDIA Kepler based graphics. It does a decent job with 3D graphics and can play many games at the native resolution but the 1GB of memory will limit the amount of filters. The graphics also do a fair job at accelerating non-3D applications as well. Also unique the the external display connectors with two mini-DisplayPort and an HDMI. This can allow up to four displays (three external plus the laptop) running at once.
The battery pack has been changed this time around with the Envy 17. Rather than a small and a large version in the past model, a single six cell pack with a capacity rating of 86WHr is included which is between the two older capacities. In terms of performance, it ran for just under five hours in my video playback tests. This is quite good for the power hungry desktop replacement segment but falls short of what the old MacBook Pro 17 was able to achieve with its larger 95WHr battery pack.
One overlooked aspect of the HP Envy series of laptops is the software that is included. Now, many companies release systems with a fair amount of preinstalled software on them. The difference here is what is included by HP. The Norton Internet Security security software comes with two years of updates compared to the typical 30-day license on most laptops. In addition, full versions of the Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements are included for photo and video editing. This is pretty much unheard of from most laptops. Of course, there are also a number of other applications that may still be of questionable use as well.
With a suggest price of $1450 and street pricing typically around $100 less, the Envy 17 does carry a higher price price tag than their Pavilion dv7 series but it does offer a good deal more in terms of features especially when it comes to graphics. With Apple dropping out of the market, the number of similar systems has dropped with the Acer Aspire V3 offering a more affordable option while the Razer Blade and Samsung Series 7 are both a good deal more expensive.