The Bottom Line
Jul 22 2013 - HP's latest ENVY TouchSmart 15 laptop is a series of tradeoffs that makes it just a suitable laptop for those that want some decent computing performance but aren't as concerned with the display. The 4th generation Quad Core processor certainly gives it an edge against many similarly price competing systems but it is held back by storage and graphics performance. In addition to this, the battery life is actually a bit disappointing given the promises of the latest Intel processors power management.
- Fast Quad Core Processor
- Comfortable Keyboard
- Lower Resolution Display
- Slow Storage Performance
- Mediocre Battery Life
- Intel Core i7-4700MQ Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 1TB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual-Layer DVD Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display With 720p Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4600 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Four USB 3.0, HDMI, Card Reader
- 14.9" x 9.9" x 1.2" @ 5.6 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - HP ENVY TouchSmart 15-j050us
Jul 22 2013 - HP's ENVY TouchSmart 15 takes the previous ENVY laptop designs and makes some minor refinements. Most notably, the front and side edges on the lower portion of the laptop taper to give it a slimmer appearance and also make it a bit easier to carry. It still uses an aluminum deck and lid but the display is covered with a glass coating because it is a touchscreen and is framed with a black border. Overall, the design is nice and does give it a bit more of a premium feel over the Pavilion lineup of laptops.
Powering the ENVY TouchSmart 15-j050us is the new quad core Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor. In terms of performance, this offers a slight improvement over the previous 3rd generation of Core i7 processors such as the i7-3630QM that was common to many higher end laptops. The processor is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory which provides a smooth overall experience even in demanding computing tasks such as desktop video work.
Storage still uses the traditional hard drive for the ENVY TouchSmart 15-j050us. This model features a large one terabyte hard drive that provides plenty of storage space for applications, data and media files. The downside here is that it is a traditional 5400rpm drive which means performance is a bit limited. Booting up the system into Windows takes around forty seconds which is a bit high compared to many competing laptops in this price range. The reason for this is that more many competing systems may offer slightly less storage and a faster 7200rpm drive or pair up a hard drive with a small solid state drive used for caching frequently used applications. At least if you need to add extra space on the system, HP provides it with four USB 3.0 ports that can be used with high speed external storage and is twice the number most laptops still offer. There is still a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD and DVD media.
Probably the biggest disappointment from the HP ENVY TouchSmart 15 is the display and graphics. When the ENVY product line was first introduced, they offered excellent high resolution displays but this seems to have been lost as we have here a 15.6-inch display that features just a 1366x768 that would be something more typical of a low cost laptop system. Now it is a multitouch capable display which does help with navigating with Windows 8 but I would almost rather see a higher resolution non-touch display than this panel. The reason for the lower resolution display may stem for the Intel HD Graphics 4600 that is built into the Core i7 processor. This is an updated version of the previous Intel HD Graphics 4000 but the improvements are fairly minor. It can play some older 3D games at hte panels lower resolution levels but it still lacks performance for modern games or really anything beyond the 1366x768 display. There is also a minor improvement to the speed of encoding media files with Quick Sync compatible programs.
The keyboard design for the ENVY TouchSmart 15 pretty much remains unchanged from past models. It still uses an isolated keyboard layout that includes the numeric keypad. Overall the layout and feel of the keyboard are very good providing an accurate and comfortable typing experience. The trackpad is a nice size and is slightly recessed from the palmrest area, especially along the front edge which makes it easy to open the lid. The buttons are integrated into the trackpad which was annoying at times but they work. Multitouch gesture support with Windows 8 was good but most people would probably end up using the touchscreen anyways.
The battery pack for the HP ENVY TouchSmart 15 uses a fairly typical 47WHr capacity rating that is common to many laptops in this size range. In digital video playback testing, the laptop was able to run for four hours. Now one would think with the power profiles of the new 4th generation of Core processors would provide this with longer battery life but the extra power consumption from the touchscreen display offsets those savings. This well well short of the Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina Display that can achieve seven hours in a similar test.
Priced just under $1000, the HP ENVY TouchSmart has a fair amount of competition. Its primary competitors are the Dell Inspiron 15R Touch, Lenovo's upcoming IdeaPad Y410p and Toshiba's Satellite P50. Dell's offering is actually a bit more affordable and as a result uses a slower dual core processor but it does offer longer running times in exchange. The Lenovo matches the performance but offers a higher resolution non-touchscreen display and dedicated graphics. Finally, Toshiba like Dell uses a slower dual core processor and with a smaller hard drive bit makes up for this with a full 1080p touchscreen display.