The folks at HP like to call the ENVY 17 a "premium entertainment PC" and that's not a bad description of this sleek 17-inch notebook. The combination of a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon graphics, 8GB of RAM and a 1080p display form the basis of a solid high-performance PC. But add the aluminum construction, backlit keyboard and amazing speakers with Beats audio and you've got breathtaking precision combined with performance.
As if that wasn't not enough, the ENVY 17 also comes loaded with "real" software and virtually no bloatware. You get the full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and Premiere Elements 9 along with CyberLink PowerDVD, Microsoft Office Starter 2010 and Norton Internet Security with a 2-year subscription to Norton AntiVirus 2012.
If there are any flaws in the design of the HP ENVY 17 they are relatively minor. The glossy "Radiance" display is prone to nasty reflections under bright room lights or sunlight making it hard to read text or watch an HD movie without being distracted by your own reflection or glare from lights. The screen lid is pretty sturdy but you can bend it inward with some pressure and risk damaging the screen. Similarly, the aluminum chassis is nice and durable, but the sides are pretty thin and might not hold up well if you drop the notebook. Fan noise wasn't a problem while watching movies but the fan gets unacceptably loud while playing graphically intense games like Batman: Arkham City.
In short, the ENVY 17 is a classy 17-inch multimedia notebook with great speakers, good performance and plenty of extras. The few potential issues we found aren't likely to be a problem for most people who will use this notebook to replace a family desktop PC. If you're in the market for a 17-inch family laptop with great performance and fantastic entertainment features then the ENVY 17 is the perfect choice.
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