The Bottom Line
Nov 9 2011 - HP's Envy 14-2160SE is a surprisingly strong performance laptop even though it doesn't have a quad core processor. Much of this is achieved through the use of a solid state drive and performance hard drive pairing. The build quality of the Envy lineup still is one of the best around even though it design is disrupted with the big red Beats logo on the lid. It would have been nice if HP had resolved all the touchpad glitches but they still remain as well. Overall, the $1300 laptop is a good general performance laptop for those looking at a slightly more portable and stylish design that doesn't end up being just another MacBook Pro clone.
- Strong Storage Performance Thanks to SSD and Hard Drive Pairing
- Excellent Build Quality
- Very Comfortable Backlit Keyboard
- Beats Logo On Lid Is A Bit Too Much
- Integrated Button Touchpad Still Has Some Issues
- Intel Core i5-2430M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-10600 DDR3
- 80GB Solid State Drive With 750GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 14.5" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- AMD Radeon HD 6630M Graphics With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, Multicard Reader
- 14" x 9.3" x 1.2" @ 5.7 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements
Review - HP Envy 14-2160SE
Nov 9 2011 - HP has been using the Beats imprint on devices for some time now. This is supposed to imply that the system has improved audio capabilities over a traditional model. While this does implement a audio processor for the speakers, that probably is not the big draw for this 14-inch laptop. Instead, it is probably the black aluminum chassis that differentiates it from the see of MacBook Pro clones including the standard Envy 14 model.
Powering this special Envy 14-2160SE model is the Intel Core i5-2430M dual core mobile processor. This is a decent processor that offers some solid performance for the majority of applications. It isn't going to be as strong in demanding tasks such as desktop video editing as a quad core Core i7 processor but many people don't require such performance. It is paired up with 6GB of DDR3 memory which is typical in this price segment and provides Windows 7 with a very smooth level of performance.
HP goes in a very different direction with the Envy 14-2160SE than most Rather than relying on just a hard drive, it pairs up a small solid state drive with a large hard drive. The 80GB drive is not large enough to be a primary drive but it works well as a boot drive with some programs on it that help it be extremely responsive. Then the 750GB hard drive provides plenty of storage space for applications, data and media files that don't require that same speed. Still, the drive does spin at 7200tpm rate which gives it better than average performance itself. If that isn't enough, the laptop also comes with a single USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage devices for near internal performance. It would be nice to see it also come with a Blu-ray compatible drive but HP instead uses a standard dual-layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD and DVD media.
Past models of the HP Envy had the option of the Radiance display that was one of the best. Unfortunately, the supplies of that 14.5-inch display have run out leaving the more average display with the 1366x768 display. It still uses a glossy coating which is disappointing as it makes it difficult to use in outdoor lighting. The graphics system is driven by a hybrid setup with a dedicated AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics with 1GB of memory along with the Intel HD Graphics 3000 built into the Core i5 processor. For a special edition system designed for performance, the graphics system is more modest than high performance. It will be able to handle PC games but not at the highest detail levels for serious gaming. It is beneficial though for those looking to accelerate applications such as Photoshop.
The keyboard and trackpad remain unchanged with the Envy 14-2160SE which is a good thing for the most part. The isolated keyboard with the matte coating is one of the better on the market. It does use a red colored backlight to match the beats logo color that is stamped on the back of the display. The trackpad still uses the integrated button similar to what Apple does in its laptops but they still haven't worked out all of the problems with it and dealing with two rather than a single button layout.
Like past Envy models, the 14-2160SE uses a eight cell battery pack rather than a standard six cell variety. The capacity rating on the pack is still relatively average with a 59WHr rating. This puts it below many competing systems such as the MacBook Pro 15 or the Dell Inspiron 14z. In DVD playback tests, this resulted in a bit more than three and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is a decent amount of running time but falls short as the capacity rating indicates. For more typical usage, it should yield a bit more than five hours.