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If you love music, then you will love the HP ENVY 14 with Beats Audio. Not only is it a heck of a good PC in terms of design and performance, but it delivers some of the best sound I’ve ever heard out of a laptop.
While I haven’t had a chance to put the ENVY 14 through my normal battery of performance, power and gaming tests, I can tell you just from the spec line (Core i3, 500GB 7200rpm drive, 4GB RAM and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 GPU) that it has more than enough horsepower to get you through a normal day’s worth of work and play most of today’s games, even intensive first-person shooters. The screen is beautiful – as it is with all HPs – and HP has done a nice job improving their clickpad. While 1st generations of the ENVY had a clickpad that was stiff to the point where you had to muscle the mouse around the screen, the new clickpad is responsive and smooth, and very intuitive for both regular mouse work and multi-touch gestures like two-finger scrolling. It’s a breeze to use.
Industrial design on the ENVY 14 is a refinement of earlier generations. The signature laser-etched aluminum is still prevalent on the lid and palm rest, but there’s a softness to the case lines that make the 14” chassis appear more diminutive than it actually is. HP also did a great job with the screen & lid; not only is the edge-to-edge glass rimmed entirely with a rubber bumper to avoid any “hotspots” when you close it, but they’ve done something that very few manufacturers are able to pull off – the ENVY is weighted & balanced so perfectly than when you lift the lid, the main PC body stays put on the table. Most PCs pull off the table when you open them, so you end up holding the PC down with one hand, and opening the lid with the other. The ENVY is true one-hand opening, and that shows an attention to detail that most PCs overlook. It’s a very thoughtful feature.
Where the ENVY really shines, of course, is when you play music. The ENVY line is powered by Beats Audio, which I discussed in last week’s post about the ENVY 14 Beats Edition PC. The short version about Beats Audio is that it was co-designed by HP’s sound engineers and Dr. Dre in response to Dre’s complaint that most laptops simply aren’t capable to reproducing studio-quality sound. I’ve been trying Beats Audio with a set of Beats by Dre Solo on-ear headphones. These headphones (and the entire Beats by Dre lineup) are the other half of the music equation – Beats Audio generates studio-quality sound from a laptop, and the headphones deliver the sound beautifully to your ears. By putting them together, I have never heard music out of a computer sound so good. I tried a number of album – “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse, “The Mirror Conspiracy” by Thievery Corporation, Green Day’s “American Idiot”, the Decemberist’s “Picaresque”, Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”, “100 Days, 100 Nights” by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and “Revolution” by Miranda Lambert, and all of them were brilliant. Beyond the richness of the sound, I was most impressed by the clarity. There’s no distortion in this combo, and every instrument is clear, precise, and true. You hear everything.
World famous KEXP DJ Darek Mazzone chilling in my office with the ENVY 14 and Beats by Dre Solo headphones
If you’re an audiophile like me, you can’t go wrong with the HP ENVY 14 – or any of HP’s Beats Audio laptops, for that matter. As an extra incentive to go get one, HP is offering $75 in free music to new Beats Audio laptop customers if you buy through 9/11/10. That’s a lot of dough to help you grow your music collection!
Have a question about this or any other PC? Post a comment, hit me on Twitter or Ask Ben Anything via email. Your question might appear in my monthly Ask Ben Anything Q&A column.
Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Solo are far from studio quality headphones. Even the Studio version the Beats are not meant for studios.
These headphones are for the mainstream consumers who want a quick solution to an upgrade from their terrible Skullcandy headphones.
Monster Beats by Dr. Dre are a joke to any real audiophile who has listened to headphones other than Apple earbuds and Skullcandy headphones.
@doradhorror yes you are right. I have beats tour headphones and they ARE good, but NOT worth the pricetag over Sennheiser. Now as for the HP Envy, I do have an HP Envy 15 and the sound is amazing. Beats did pretty good with the sound in the laptops, but I mean, most laptops have crappy speakers to begin with. No wonder Beats ran away with this.
We all appreciate the write ups you do. I read the one you did on the new HP Envy 14 Beats addition. I was wondering if during your testing if you had any heat issues with your HP Envy 14. I read that HP revamped not only the sound portion of the Envy 14 but also the internal cooling by adding an extra fan and allot of copper to help insulate and dissipate the heat. The previous versions HP Envy 17, 15, and 13 all had heat issues where it was even uncomfortable to have your hands on the keyboard while gaming with the Envy.
Do you know if the new HP Envy 14 and HP Envy 14 Beats Beats the heat problems? I would also like to know if you could find out if they fixed the 17" and 15" models that are on assembly now or if it is just the 14" that has the fix.
Thank you so much!
I would rather have HP giving these laptops really desktop grade high quality Beats Audio speakers. Headphones are not always an optimal solution. The speakers should have Beats Audio technology.
@dorad: Regardless, they sound great. Perhaps my ears aren't sophisticated enough. :)
@rbennett: My 1st gen Envy 15 got pretty hot, but the new 14 doesnt' seem to have that issue.
i just won this laptop in a contest and looking forward to confirming/validating some of the things written up about this device. In particular the improvement to the clickpad. i currently own the first generation envy 15 and hope the new 14 is better in usability.