Review: HP Envy 14 TouchSmart

Review: HP Envy 14 TouchSmart

It was only last year that Linux's creator Linus Torvald indulged in a rant about poor laptop displays with low resolutions.

He would probably be pleased with the HP Envy 14 TouchSmart, part of a new wave of laptops with high-resolution displays.

With a 3,200 x 1,800-pixel screen, the display of this laptop is even sharper than the Retina display of Apple's MacBook Pro, and looks as sharp and clear as a high-end smartphone display.

Unlike with a phone, you hold a laptop almost at arm's length. So, on the Envy 14's Windows desktop, icons look tiny even after you bump up their size to 150 per cent in the display settings. You would probably want to lower the resolution to a more manageable 1,920 x 1,080 pixels when working in desktop mode.

Given the paucity of content designed for a resolution of 3,200 x 1,800 pixels, it is probably best to use the Envy 14 at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 most of the time.

In any case, its Nvidia GT 740M graphics card is not fast enough to run games such as BioShock Infinite smoothly at high resolutions.

The upside of the screen's extra real estate is that almost all the tiles on the Windows 8 Start screen can fit onto a single page, so you do not have to swipe the screen to find your apps.

More importantly, the Envy 14 costs $1,699, which is very reasonable for a premium laptop.

HP has a 1,600 x 900-pixel version that is slightly more affordable at $1,599. It also has a better Core i7 processor.

The Envy 14 is a bit heavy for a 14-inch model at 2.14kg, though it maintains a relatively slim profile.

Audio from the Envy 14's Beats Audio-branded speakers and subwoofer is a notch above the average laptop.

This laptop favours storage over speed with a 750GB hybrid drive and a 24GB solid-state drive cache. Still, boot-up speeds are good while system performance is typical for its class.

The Envy 14's battery life is very decent at 5hr 38min.

A beautiful, high-resolution screen and a premium design make the Envy 14 a solid choice for mainstream users.

TECH SPECS

Price: $1,699
Processor: Intel Core i5-4200U (1.6GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 740M 2GB DDR3
RAM: 8GB
Display: 14 inches, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels
Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI,
SD card reader, Ethernet, headphone and microphone combo jack
Battery: 50 watt-hour

RATING

Features: 4
Design: 4
Performance: 3
Value for money: 4
Battery life: 4
Overall: 4


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