The Bottom Line
Dec 3 2012 - HP's Envy Ultrabook 4 offers a very stylish 14-inch ultrabook design with some very fast boot times. Overall it isn't a terribly bad package but it has a few flaws that make it just average. First off, the screen is dark and harder to use in many situations. More importantly, Windows 8 is much better with touchscreen displays and several 14-inch touchscreen ultrabooks are available at the same price as this. It is possible to get a TouchSmart model, but it drives the price up such that it isn't as competitive as it should be.
- Lighter Than Most 14-inch Ultrabooks
- Quick Boot Times Even With Hybrid Storage
- Stylish Brushed Aluminum Design
- Fairly Dark Screen
- Soft Keyboard
- More Expensive Than Several 14-inch Touchscreen Ultrabooks
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive With 32GB Solid State Drive Cache
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Display With High Definition Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMI, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 13.4" x 9.3" x .8" @ 3.9 lbs.
- Windows 8 64-bit, Office Starter, Norton Internet Security
Review - HP Envy Ultrabook 4-1130us
Dec 3 2012 - HP's Envy design has provided a more upscale than the standard Pavilion series. With the Envy Ultrabook 4, HP continues to use a brushed aluminum exterior and keyboard deck AS it has in past versions. This time around, the exterior and interior is an all black color to give it a more classic black professional laptop look. The ultrabook provides a very light package at just under 3.9 pounds in weight while most of the competition is just over four pounds. It still has a relatively thick profile at eight tenths of an inch that spans most of the frame over than a tapered and rounded bottom front edge.
Powering the HP Envy Ultrabook 4-1130us is the dual core Intel Core i5-3317U which is pretty much the standard you will find in just about any ultrabook. HP does differentiate themselves a bit by including 6GB of DDR3 memory instead of the usual 4GB in most budget systems or 8GB found in the more premium models. Overall, the system handles basic tasks of web browsing, email, media viewing and productivity software without any issues and it runs smoothly enough in Windows 8. It is only going to really get bogged down in more demanding tasks such as desktop video editing and PC gaming that are still best suited for non-ultrabook laptops.
Storage of the Envy Ultrabook 4-1130us decides to use a hybrid storage solution rather than a straight up solid state drive. This combines a fairly typical 500GB hard drive that allows for extra storage capacity for programs and data with a smaller 32GB solid state drive for caching. This provides it with some additional performance especially when booting up the computer or loading frequently used applications but it will be slower in other instances. Boot times are quite quick at just under 15 seconds to load into Windows 8 and just a couple of seconds to wake from sleep mode. If you do require additional storage, there are a two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage. Like most ultrabooks, there is no optical drive so if you want to watch DVDs or rips CDs you will need an external drive.
The compact dimensions of the HP Envy Ultrabook 4-1130us is thanks to the smaller 14-inch display panel. It features the typical 1366x768 display resolution that is found in most laptops these days. Overall, it has decent color and viewing angles but the screen lacks in brightness. The result is a laptop that can be extremely difficult to use outdoors or in brightly lit office conditions that will produce lots of glare and reflections on the glossy display. It should be noted that this is not the TouchSmart version of the laptop which runs about $100 more than this model. The graphics are powered by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. This is fine for your basic tasks but it does still lack 3D performance for any consideration for 3D gaming except on older titles and at restricted graphics settings. It does make up for this by accelerating media encoding when used with Quick Sync compatible programs.
The keyboard design for the Envy Ultrabook 4 is pretty much similar to what HP has been using in most its laptops lately. It is an isolated key design that offers a nice spacious layout. It is a decent enough experience but the keyboard does feel softer than many other HP models which may disappoint some. It does feature a backlight. The trackpad is a nice and larger design that is unfortunately centered on the laptop deck rather than on the keyboard which means more accidental brushes with the right hand while typing. The software does a decent job at catching most of these. It features integrated buttons with multitouch gesture support for Windows 8 that worked well for the most part but had some difficult with a few that required more than two fingers.
That battery pack for the HP Envy Ultrabook 4 is internalized like the vast majority of smaller laptops these days. It is rated at a slightly above average 52WHr capacity compared to the more typical 45Whr. In digital video playback tests, the laptop was able to run for just under five hours. This puts it slightly ahead of many similar 14-inch ultrabooks that were able to achieve four and a half hours but well behind the six and a half of the Dell XPS 14 with its much larger battery pack or the still quite small but non-ultrabook Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina that achieves over seven hours.
With a price point of around $850, the HP Envy Ultrabook 4-1130us has some close competition in the form of the Acer Aspire V5, ASUS VivoBook S400CA and Dell XPS 14. The Dell model is more expensive and much larger but it does provide with a longer batter life and higher resolution display. Both the Acer and ASUS models are slightly more affordable and come with multitouch displays that make navigating Windows 8 much easier. Acer comes with more storage space and memory but suffers a much shorter battery life. ASUS uses a lower resolution webcam.