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HP Envy 4 touchsmart 14" ultrabook review


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#1 peacemf

peacemf

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 18:17

The HP envy 4
Sorry it isn't a professional review compared to others, but I don't know how to do professional stuff, just amateur stuff :)

Why I went for this laptop/ultrabook

Like most people I wasn’t sure if I should get a windows 8 laptop with or without a touchscreen.
So I went for one with a touchscreen just in case I made the wrong choice going without one.
So I brought the HP envy 4, direct from hp. Shipping was next day, free, and you get quite a bit of cash back with cash back sites.
I really didn’t want to get the more expensive brother, which has a full HD screen and a normal sized screen, mostly because it was closer to a MacBook pro’s price and if I’m going over a £1k I might as well get that!


The device specs, are they good?
The i5 is nice, its fast, the boot up from cold takes less than 30 seconds, and yes you can wake from sleep within 2 seconds. (all rough figures, I didn’t have a timer close at hand!)
The fans seem to come on quite a bit, the laptops exhausts, is on the bottom, instead of the side. On one hand it means your crotch doesn’t get cold, on another hand it also means it’s easy to block with your baggy pants. The keyboard and track pad stay cool, which is nice.
No backlighting, not sure why, the US model does!
It’s sleek and somewhat light, so you can hold the device with one hand, and since it lacks the optical drive means the device doesn’t flex when you hold it with one hand. The fit and finish is good, not MacBook pro quality though, you can feel some rough areas. But I do really like the rubber bottom, instead of plastic on a normal laptop. Interestingly, to upgrade the memory you need to take the whole bottom panel! No easy access panels.


Bad bits?
The worst bit has to be the power brick, because instead of having a bend from the port, it is straight, so it sticks out about a mile from the side of the laptop.

Picture enclosed somewhere in the review.


Typing and mouse clicking good?
The keyboard is nice, the keys have a nice smooth click to them, very comfortable for long essays if people still do them. The track pad takes some getting used to, as it doesn’t feel as sensitive as it should, but is smooth (surface wise). The left and right buttons are part of the track pad, not separate.


Audio
The audio is good, Lenovo do better, for some reason it feels like its more “mono” than stereo.


Screen quality
The screen is standard cheap laptop screens, you need to be looking straight ahead, otherwise you won’t see jack from the sides.



The touchscreen
The touchscreen, it’s nice. And yes it makes windows 8 easier to use. I find myself using the touchscreen and physical keyboard to navigate, and I think if you are using the laptop as a portable device then it would be easier, as you don’t need a flat surface to use your external mouse.
The screen is glossy, so if you have a window behind you, you won’t see anything. Also it gets a lot of fingerprints, it’s not visible if there isn’t direct sunlight, but you don’t notice that screen doesn’t look as clean as it should do.
For desktops I’d imagine it wouldn’t be as nice, as you’d have to be very close to the screen.
Playing games like solitaire with the touchscreen after about 10 minutes your arms do hurt.
For browsing the internet it’s nicer than using the mouse, as you can zoom in anywhere without having to click the picture. There is a nice feature to go back a page by pressing the side of the screen, but doesn’t seem to work the entire time bug?
Windows 8 is pretty nice, there are things I miss. Such as being able to have two tabs of IE side to side. Watching videos, for some reason create a small screen, even when you have it side by side with say word 2010.
So applications like office, iTunes don’t work with the new block UI, so they go straight to desktop.
Going between block UI and desktop mode, cause videos to stop.
I don’t know if there is an easier way to find an app, but it seems a bit annoying having to choose search and then clicking on apps and then awaiting results.
The email client isn’t great either, for some reason when you look at junk mail it doesn’t have the HTML look, instead it looks like a txt document missing out the important links to things like “click here to reset your Skype password”!!!!, and I can’t find the button to “wait I think it’s safe”.
Messaging it a bit annoying, you have to do multiple clicks to see who’s on online. When you click messaging it just brings up your last chit chat, you have to click on the plus button to see who is online and then you can chat.
I haven’t checked it out, but people are saying you can’t sync your iPhone with iTunes, but my laptop does recognise the phone.
I miss the option to have two clocks; it’s useful if you have family aboard!
The touch functions aren’t great in the desktop mode, works very well in the Lego block UI.
Netflix isn’t as fully functional as the web client, lacks the option to choose an episode from a TV series, or click next episode. Instead you have to wait for it to finish, go back to main menu and press the next episode.


So should you buy a touchscreen laptop?
Yes, but play around with it. It’s just another way to use windows; once you get used to keyboard and mouse I’d imagine you won’t miss the touchy touchy screen.


Will people like it (windows 8)?
Yes because most people use only a handful of applications, and having everything on a single screen, or over two pages makes it easier to use. Installed it on an i3 and a cheap laptop both of which perform better and feel smoother than windows 7.


Should you buy the Envy 4?
Well, personally I think the Lenovo yoga is a better form factor, but they only packed in 128 GB, and what the heck are you going to do with that? If they put in a proper hard drive I would have brought that. As that form factor is more comfortable, and is the next best thing to using a tablet out right.

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#2 OP peacemf

peacemf

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 13:48

So a month on, how is it?

well i'll admit there are a few problems.
the fact that the heat vents are at the bottom means you can keep the laptop on your bed, as it just boils!
also the fans are noisy and come on every so often, but a bit too loud.
the trackpad for some reasons dont feel sensitive to use, its nice to touch but for some reason just not accurate.

also even with a bluetooth mouse, windows 8 can be a bit clunky.
IE10 just isnt stable compared to chrome, you'll notice it more when you open 10 tabs. so you end up using the desktop mode. although chrome does a have metro ui too

All in all, for those on the fence of macbook or continue windows its probably the best time to switch. for diehard windows users you probably will find its just not as easy to use for work reasons. for ipad/tablet use its its, just not proper work