Pros: Wicked fast! Great HD screen. Backlit keyboard
Poor battery life.
My wife needed to get a laptop for her school and we ended up getting her a MacBookPro, she needed the ease of use and frankly the Macs and built great. I was also in the market for a new laptop but I like to tinker and work with things, and that isn't the Mac strongpoint. After a lot of research I decided on a desktop replacement since we really don't travel too much and I love having power at my fingertips.
The HP Envy 17 is part of the HP premium line meant to compete directly with the MacBookPro's. It has a metalized exterior that give it a tough look. It has a backlit keyboard with chicklet style keys (which are very close to the MacBookPro). I went for the Intel i7 processor which is a true quad core processor with hyperthreading (that makes it look like 8 cores to software). The display is 17 inches diagonally with 1920x1080 resolution, which is true HD. It supports up to 8GB of RAM and has two hard drive bays along with a slot loading optical drive which can be configured for standard DVD or Blue Ray. There are many varieties that can be ordered; from the i5 processor and a lower resolution screen to the i7 beast with Blue Ray and two hard drives. Of course this changes your price, but even decked out you can still get out less than $2,000. I went for the HD display, i7 processor, single 640GB HD, standard DVD.
The build quality is very good but not quite the level of the MacBookPro. One thing to keep in mind though is that the MacBookPro with the same hardware will run almost $1,000 more, so there is a bit of unfair comparison. Kind of like complaining that your Mustang doesn't have the same build quality of your Porsche. But since the Envy is up in the "premium" segment, that is the competition.
First things first; this thing is wicked fast. Especially if you strip off all the bloatware that HP includes with this machine (which is typical of all the main manufacturers). I installed a 60GB Solid State hard drive as my primary drive and did a clean Win7 install. This system boots up in less than 10 seconds! I ran some gaming benchmarks and the scores beat my Dell XPS quad core desktop system. The display is gorgeous and the keyboard feels great, I love the backlight (I think all laptops should have this as an option). It also has a built in webcam and SD card reader. One nice thing is that is has a USB 3.0 port; this is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 but has the ability to go much faster once the USB 3.0 accessories start to get rolled out.
The build quality is very good and the whole system feels very solid. The whole thing feels very Mac-like, which is a good thing.
Some items of concern; heat has to be my biggest complaint. The left palmrest gets over 100 degrees during gaming. This doesn't sound that hot, but actually it is very distracting. I don't think I'll burn myself on it but I do notice that I can't rest my palm on the area that I'm supposed to rest my palm on. If this hot area was in a different location I probably wouldn't notice it but every time I use this machine it bugs me. It seems that the graphics card heat sink is right under that area. I am actually thinking of putting some thin sticky foam on that side to see if it helps. I know this system has some major hardware that generates a lot of heat; but there needs to be more internal/external insulation for the user, or a second fan. I can definitely hear the main fan spool up when I am gaming but I almost expect that.
The second complaint is on battery life. Even with the extended battery the system barely gets 2 hours of runtime. I know our MacBookPro has an integrated graphics chip that is used when you are just surfing the web or doing other non-graphic intense stuff, this is to extend the battery life. I think the other Envy models have this secondary graphics system; I'm not sure why the 17 doesn't.
I ordered this system from HP.com and was able to use my work employee purchase program so I got a few hundred off. Unfortunately after I got the system I found my system with the Blue Ray drive for the same price on Amazon. Arrggghh. Oh well, I guess you can't win them all.
Overall I am happy but I would do some more checking before buying it again.
I'll write more as I use the system more.
After using the system for a bit I am liking it more.
The palm rest doesn't seem to be getting quite as hot, maybe the system has settled down (or my hand has gotten tougher).
It is still wicked fast and I really like the backlit keyboard.
Battery life is still not very good but I have learned to work around it.
I can use my home "N" wireless network and it says it is connecting at 300 Mbs. Doing network speed tests I can't tell any diference from my wired desktop so I am happy.
The HP support assistant has done a good job of updating the software on the machine and everything is running well.
So far, so good.