- Great speakers
- Good backlit keyboard
- Lots of ports
- Fair price
- Glossy, reflective screen
- Weak screen lid
- Thin aluminum sides
- Loud fan while gaming
The ENVY 17 is a classy 17-inch multimedia notebook with great speakers, good performance and plenty of extras.
HP spent the last several years developing its ENVY line of notebook PCs into a lust-worthy series of premium laptops with sleek lines and cutting-edge performance. The 17-inch ENVY 17 is the largest in the ENVY line and as such has room for some of the best processors and graphics available at a starting price of around $1,200. We took a closer look at this notebook to see if it’s worth its weight in aluminum.
Build and Design
Like most of the “premium” notebooks available today the ENVY 17 features brushed aluminum construction combined with black-painted metal trim to give the laptop a clean yet durable appearance. Although this isn’t a “thin and light” laptop, the ENVY 17 is as thin as 1.28 inches and tips the scales at just over 7.3 pounds. What makes this all the more impressive is that HP still includes a considerable number of ports (more on that later) as well as a slot-loading optical drive.
The metal lid protecting the 17-inch screen is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that the matte-black finish looks nice and the metal provides reasonable durability while keeping the lid thin. Unfortunately, the metal is so thin that you can easily apply pressure to the back the screen (creating visible screen distortions or “ripples”) and risk damaging the actual display panel. This probably isn’t an issue for people using the ENVY 17 as a desktop replacement, but you should be aware of the potential for screen damage if you plan to travel with this notebook.
One minor complaint about the design of the ENVY 17 is that it looks a little too much like all of the other MacBook-inspired premium notebooks on the market. In fact, when I took the ENVY 17 into a Starbucks a stranger approached me and asked, “Is that one of the new MacBooks?” Sure, you can tell this is an HP if you look at the screen lid or get close enough to see the HP logo above the keyboard, but I don’t think the design of the ENVY 17 is doing anything to help the unique brand identity of HP.
Unlike the majority of premium notebooks with aluminum construction, the ENVY 17 is actually very easy to upgrade. Simply slide the battery release switch to one side and the bottom front half of the notebook slides away revealing the two SATA storage bays, wireless card and 6-cell battery. Remove a few more screws and you can remove the entire bottom of the ENVY 17 and access the RAM slots and optional mSATA storage.
Ports and Features
As mentioned previously, HP didn’t sacrifice ports in order to make this 17-inch notebook relatively thin and light. You get three USB 3.0 ports (thank you!) as well as a standard USB 2.0 port, but you also get dual DisplayPort jacks, HDMI, a media card reader, slot-loading optical drive, Gigabit Ethernet, microphone jack and dual headphone jacks and a physical volume dial! You typically won’t find all those ports on such a thin 17-inch notebook.
Front: Speaker grills
Back: Fan exhaust
Left: Optical drive, two USB 3.0 ports, microphone, two headphone jacks, Kensington lock slot
Right: Media card reader, HDMI, DisplayPort x 2, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, volume dial, Ethernet, AC power jack