By Josh Field
While the HP Envy TouchSmart 17 is big and heavy, it outperforms most ultrabooks, The build doesn’t feel very durable, as HP used plastic rather than metal on the body, For a big laptop, it has a respectable battery life of over 6 hours while web browsing
If there’s one thing you need to understand about laptops, it’s this: Portability will cost you. Want proof? Look no further than the HP Envy TouchSmart 17 (MSRP $999.99), a fully loaded desktop replacement that costs less than an entry level MacBook Air.
This big guy comes with a smattering of excellent specs, including a quad-core Intel i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB of hard drive space, a CD/DVD drive, a full-HD touchscreen, and even a fingerprint scanner. For $999, this is a lot. In fact, for the same price, you can get HP’s Spectre 13 ultrabook, which has a weaker processor, half the RAM, and a fraction of the storage space, but does have portability.
The 17-inch Envy is an absolutely rock-solid machine, but you’ll break quite a sweat if you try to lug it around with you. It’s the sport utility vehicle of laptops: It’s big, and boy is it comfortable. As an at-home computer for the whole family, you can’t go wrong.
Lift the cover up and you’re treated to a full-sized keyboard, which is a joy to use. My only complaint here comes back to quality: Whenever I pressed a key, the base would bend, though it’s doubtful that one could break the keyboard from typing. Below the keyboard is an ample-sized touchpad with one caveat: It doesn’t lie flush with the Envy’s base. You could stick a coin underneath the bottom of the touchpad and pry it off — an odd design choice to say the least. This may not mesh well with your kids and their graham cracker crumbs.
Features are plentiful on the Envy. Want USB 3.0 ports? This PC has four of ’em. You’ll also find a full-sized HDMI output, and an SD card reader. You even get a functional fingerprint scanner.
One enticing addition to the Envy is a CD/DVD player. While the world seems to be moving away from physical media, there are still plenty of consumers who buy CDs and DVDs. Sadly, this drive doesn’t play Blu-rays, meaning you can’t take full advantage of this HP’s 1080p touchscreen.
The included optical drive doesn’t play Blu-ray discs, sadly, so you can’t take full advantage of the 1080p touchscreen
The HP Envy TouchSmart 17 has a secret weapon: its quad-core Intel i7 processor. For $999.99, this laptop provides more power than most consumers need, and is proof that consumers pay more for portability than performance. In almost every test, it outperformed ultrabooks.
The hard drive in this laptop is a 1TB model clocked at 5400 RPM. In laymen’s terms, it can hold a lot of stuff, but it’s extremely slow. Launching an app on this computer therefore takes a bit longer than it does on an ultrabook with a solid-state hard drive. When the Envy finally launches a program, it runs smoothly and quickly, but the time it takes to open that program may prove irritating at times.
For a big laptop, it at least gets a respectable amount of battery life. I clocked just over 6 hours while web browsing with a 50% backlight brightness. While almost any current ultrabook will have a longer charge, I can’t imagine carrying the 17-inch Envy around and relying on its battery.
If you’re in the market for a 17-inch laptop, you probably aren’t planning on carrying it around wherever you go. The HP Envy TouchSmart 17 is an ideal companion for those types of consumers. Throughout testing, this $999.99 rig surprised me. I didn’t expect it to perform as well as it did without a solid-state drive, nor did I think it would have a battery life of 6 hours. For a grand, you’re getting a lot of compute r— literally.
My only complaints have to do with this HP’s overly plastic construction and slow load times. While you can’t do a thing about its build quality, the load times do have a light at the end of the tunnel: Once programs finally load, they run flawlessly.
The HP Envy TouchSmart 17 would be an awesome computer for the family — that is, if you aren’t sold on the idea of an actual desktop PC. It’s powerful enough for the entire household, and it’s just portable enough to bring on vacations. This computer is a true crowd-pleaser, and for its relatively low price, what more could you ask for?