One of the few new premium laptop brands we've seen recently is HP's Envy line, launched late last year with the HP Envy 13 and HP Envy 15. We liked both for their snappy designs, high-powered components, and big touch pads--but at $1,500-$2,000, depending on configuration, they were ridiculously expensive.
The second generation of Envy laptops is here, and the two new models are the Envy 14 and Envy 17. The new machines have some subtle tweaks, but the most important one is the new starting prices. The 14-inch model starts at $999, and the 17-inch model starts at $1,399. Breaking the $1,000 barrier is a big deal, at least psychologically, and makes these seem like a good choice in the premium-but-affordable department.
The Envy 14 is 1.1 inches thick, weighs 5.25 pounds, and offers Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors. The 14.5-inch 16:9 display runs at 1,600x900 pixels, and the system supports switchable graphics, pairing integrated Intel graphics with an ATI Mobility Radeon 5650. The Envy 14 also adds a backlit keyboard, one of the key upscale features missing from the more-expensive Envy 13. At $999, the magnesium/aluminum alloy Envy compares very favorably with the current $999 MacBook, which has a polycarbonate body and an older Core 2 Duo CPU.
The Envy 17 is about 1.5 inches thick and weighs 7.5 pounds--making it thin but heavy for a desktop replacement. In it, you've got a choice of Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, along with ATI Mobility Radeon 5850 graphics. Two 17.3-inch 16:9 display options are available: basic 1,600x900-pixel resolution (but for a 17-inch laptop that costs more than $1,000, why bother?) and full HD 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. Like the 14-inch model, it also includes a backlit keyboard, and both have Beats-Audio-branded audio subsystems.
The HP Envy 17 will be available starting May 19, and the HP Envy 14 will be available starting June 27. Check out some more shots of the Envy 14 and Envy 17 in the gallery after the jump. … Read more