HP ENVY 4 Ultrabook Review

Hi Folks,

Roughly 2 weeks ago, the good PR folks from Edelman sent me a review unit of the HP ENVY 4 Ultrabook.

This post is a review of that unit after 2 weeks of real world usage … yes, no synthetic benchmarks from me.

Here are my findings after playing with the HP ENVY 4 Ultrabook.

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook - Singapore Local Red/Black Set

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook – Singapore Local Red/Black Set

 

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook Specifications And Features

There are actually 2 versions of the HP Envy 4 available locally – The Ultrabook (HP Envy 4 1035TX) and The Sleekbook (HP Envy 4 1026TX)

Externally, they look the same but for S$200 more, you get your:

  • Graphics upgraded from Intel® HD Graphics to the AMD Radeon™ HD 7670M Graphics with 2GB DDR3 VRAM
  • Storage upgraded with an additional 32GB mSATA module
  • Additional 4GB of Memory

So if you asked me, I say just grab the Ultrabook if you have that extra S$200 … it’s worth it.

HP ENVY4-1035TX (Ultrabook)

HP ENVY4-1026TU (Sleekbook)

Price

From S$1,299

From S$1,099

Colours available

Midnight Black / Metal

Midnight Black/ Metal

Processor

3rd generation Intel® Core™ i5-3317U Processor
(1.7 GHz, 3MB L3 Cache)

3rd generation Intel® Core™ i5-3317U Processor
(1.7 GHz, 3MB L3 Cache)

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bits)

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bits)

Graphics

AMD Radeon™ HD 7670M Graphics with 2GB DDR3 VRAM

Intel® HD Graphics

Display/ Resolution

14.0-inch diagonal HD BrightView LED-backlit Display (1366 x 768)

14.0-inch diagonal HD BrightView LED-backlit Display (1366 x 768)

Memory (std/max)

8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2 DIMM) – Max supported 16GB

4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM (1 DIMM) – Max supported 16GB

Hard Disk Drive

500GB HDD, 32GB mSATA module

500GB HDD

Ports

2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, HDMI, RJ-45, Headphones out, Microphone in

2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, HDMI, RJ-45, Headphones out, Microphone in

Webcam

HP TrueVision HD Webcam with integrated dual array digital microphone

HP TrueVision HD Webcam with integrated dual array digital microphone

Audio

Beats Audio™, HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer

Beats Audio™, HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer

Keyboard / Touchpad

Full-size island-style keyboard, HP Imagepad supporting Multi-Touch gestures with On/Off button

Full-size island-style keyboard, HP Imagepad supporting Multi-Touch gestures with On/Off button

Approximate Weight

From 1.799 kg with 4-cell

From 1.799 kg with 4-cell

Dimension

34.0 cm(W)x 23.58cm(D)x 1.98cm (max H)

34.0 cm(W)x 23.58cm(D)x 1.98cm (max H)

Both models come with the 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i5-3317U Processor and Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bits).

It handles typical task like working on your office documents, spreadsheets, emailing without missing a beat.

The version I had for review, HP ENVY4-1035TX (Ultrabook), could boot into Windows Desktop in roughly 22 seconds, recover from Hibernate in about 20 seconds and wakes from sleep in 7 seconds. Oh and it shuts down in about 7 seconds too.

Thanks to the additional 32GB mSATA module used in conjunction with Intel® Rapid Start and Intel® Smart Response Technology that accelerates the system response experience by putting frequently-used blocks of disk data on a solid-state drive (SSD).

This solution is not as fast as a pure SSD solution but it’s fast enough that you WILL notice it (in terms of boot up time, application launch time and response time) while keeping it affordable.

On the bright side, you will have ample storage space with the 500GB harddisk … something any solely SSD equipped Ultrabook can only dream about.

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook 1035TX Main Features - Intel Core i5 & AMD Radeon Graphics

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook 1035TX Main Features – Intel Core i5 & AMD Radeon Graphics

Of course being a HP Ultrabook … the HP Envy 4 comes with Beats Audio™, Dual Speakers and HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer as a feature.

To be honest, the music coming out from the speaker is decent and does sound better than the average notebook.

But HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer? Really? I couldn’t tell that there was a subwoofer inside … period. Or maybe I wasn’t doing something right?

However, plugging your headphone/earphone into the headphone jack and you start to understand what Beats Audio™ is all about.

I normally use a dedicated headphone amp with my Image S4 and what I heard from the Envy 4 headphone jack powering the same Image S4 comes pretty close to what I am used too.

The sound is a little bright but there is ample bass thumping in my cranium.

So my advise is … to really enjoy the music from this baby … use the headphone jack instead of the speakers.

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook 1035TX Main Features - Beats Audio

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook 1035TX Main Features – Beats Audio

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook Design

In the department of looks … the HP Envy 4 Ultrabook is a stunner … I love Black/Red combinations and this Ultrabook is really beautiful.

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Design Midnight Black

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Design Midnight Black With Curves

There are ample of curves making it a little sexy.

The Midnight Black Metallic Top Cover adds a little class to it.

The Vented Plastic Red Underside is RED HOT SEXY … erm, ok … don’t get carried away … I’m referring to a notebook.

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Design Matt Metallic Top

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Design Matt Metallic Top

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Design - Matellic Midnight Black On Top and Plastic Red On The Bottom

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Design – Matellic Midnight Black On Top and Plastic Red On The Bottom

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook - Red Plastic Bottom With Plenty Of Air Vents

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook – Red Plastic Bottom With Plenty Of Air Vents

What about fingerprints?

The matt metallic top does not attract as much fingerprints but it’s there … just not as much. The good thing is that it’s pretty easy to clean off and you won’t have to worry about scratches … since it’s already matt, metallic and midnight black.

Unfortunately, the glossy screen is still a fingerprint magnet.

 

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook Ports

The HP Envy 4 Ultrabook comes with 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, HDMI, RJ-45, Headphones out, Microphone in and a Digital media card reader.

There is a HDMI port but no VGA port, so you better make sure the projector has a HDMI port if you plan to do any presentation using the HP Envy 4 Ultrabook.

To keep the slim profile of an Ultrabook, the RJ-45 features a drop-down design … i.e. you will have to pull the latch down before inserting the lan jack.

Oh and there is no integrated CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drives … if you need one, you will have to buy it separately.

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Right Side Ports

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Right Side Ports

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Left Side Ports

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Left Side Ports

HP Envy 4 Ultrabook Size And Weight

The HP Envy 4 Ultrabook weighs in from 1.799 kg with 4-cell and is as thin as 19.8 mm.

Yeah, I know it’s just some numbers … so here are some photos of the 14 Inch HP Envy 4 Ultrabook place side by side with my 13 Inch Macbook Air for comparison.

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Thickness Vs Macbook Air - Side By Side

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Thickness Vs Macbook Air – Side By Side

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Thickness Vs Macbook Air Side View

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Thickness Vs Macbook Air Side View

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Thickness Vs Mackbook Air Front View

HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook Thickness Vs Mackbook Air Front View

1.799 kg may sound a little heavy (as compared to 1.35kg of the Macbook Air) but when you actually hold it in your hands … it feels … natural … as in the weight is just nice … not too heavy and not too light.

Thickness wise is also just nice, it looks thick only in comparison to the legendarily thin Macbook Air.

I believe the slight thickness is necessary to accommodate the cooling measures to tame the heat from both the processor and the discrete graphics.

Which brings me to the next point … the HP Envy 4 1035TX Ultrabook doesn’t get overly hot and does not emit loud fan blowing sounds when you push it’s performance to the limit.

Or maybe the sound was just covered up when I push it playing Diablo 3.

 

Gaming On The HP Envy 4 1035TX Ultrabook

Yeah, you read it right … I played Diablo 3 on the HP Envy 4 1035TX Ultrabook.

I had to try it since it’s equipped with the AMD Radeon™ HD 7670M Graphics with 2GB DDR3 VRAM … yet another something many other Ultrabooks can only dream about.

Playing Diablo 3 On HP Envy 4 Ultrabook

Playing Diablo 3 On HP Envy 4 Ultrabook

In Full Screen mode, Diablo 3 was running at 1366×768 with a foreground fps limit of 150 and background fps limit at 8.

Texture Quality and Physics was set to “High” while Shadow Quality and Clutter Density was set to “Medium”.

Anti-Aliasing was disabled and Low FX was selected (I can’t tell the difference with or without Low FX on the 14 inch screen I enabled it to push a couple more fps).

Diablo 3 FPS on HP Envy 4 Ultrabook

Diablo 3 FPS on HP Envy 4 Ultrabook

This above is a screen shot of the average fps while standing alone in the Sundered Canyon (Act II) … getting 58 fps is very playable.

In more crowded places, the fps drops to between 30 and 40 which is still playable with acceptable graphics quality.

So if any of you are wondering if the HP Envy 4 Ultrabook can handle graphics intensive games … the answer is yes, it does :)

But there is one weak point that you need to know of … the viewable angle of the 14.0-inch diagonal HD BrightView LED-backlit Display is not that great.

I find myself adjusting the screen angle from time to time or bobbing my head around trying to figure out where the monsters are as I can’t see them clearly near the edges of the screen when it’s tilted at an angle away from me.

 

Battery Life Of The HP Envy 4 1035TX Ultrabook

HP says the HP Envy 4 can last up to 8 hours and 15 mins … but I could never get it to last 4 hours in my 2 weeks of testing … unless you count leaving the ultrabook alone, doing nothing.

It lasted between 3 to 4 hours when I surf the web, socialising on facebook and watching youtube.

If I play Diablo 3, the battery life plummet to just 2 hours only.

So do note that Battery Life isn’t the Envy 4′s strength.

 

James’ Verdict On The HP Envy 4 1035TX Ultrabook

I think overall the HP ENVY 4 1035TX Ultrabook is a very attractive notebook … it’s light, fast, responsive and can even play games decently.

I was told the official pricing is from S$1299, which is very affordable.

If I had only that amount of budget (say S$1300) and want to get a do it all notebook that is very portable … this will be among my top choice.

 

Pros

  • Responsive Storage Subsystem
  • Discrete Graphics Solution
  • Well Built
  • Beats Is In The Headphone

 

Cons

  • Short Battery Life
  • Still Lacking In Bass
  • Limited Screen Viewing Angle

 

Cheers,
James

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