HP Envy 17 3D Review

By Michael A. Prospero
Tags:notebook computers,notebook computersHP Envy 17 3D Review notebook computers,HP Envy 17 3D Review notebook computersnotebook computers HP Envy 17 3D Review notebook computers
Go big or go home. That's the mantra of the HP Envy 17 3D. This large but stylish desktop replacement features an Intel Core i7 processor, powerful ATI graphics, a 3D-capable, full HD display, and a Blu-ray player. Starting at $1,599 ($1,649 as configured), the 3D version of the notebook costs the same as a similarly equipped non-3D version we reviewed just three months ago. Sounds like a sweet deal. But how does this machine stack up to laptops powered by Nvidia's 3D Vision technology? And is there enough 3D content to make donning those glasses worth the trouble? Our in-depth review reveals all.

The Envy 17 3D shares the same minimalist-chic design as the smaller Envy 14, including a rock-solid taupe chassis made of aluminum and magnesium. A few touches, such as a paisley-esque pattern of raised bumps on the lid and palm rest and HP's glowing logo on the lid, mark this as a premium laptop. Between the machine's durable feel and details such as quiet keys (more on that later), the Envy 17 3D feels like a luxury laptop.
At 7.5 pounds, the Envy 17 3D is a reasonable weight for a notebook this size, but you likely won't carry it often (and then, you'll need the AC adapter, as you'll see in the battery section). With a maximum height of 1.5 inches, the Envy 17 3D also feels thick, especially compared to Apple's 17-inch MacBook Pro, which is just 0.98 inches.
HP Envy 17 3D

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Envy 17 3D has a chiclet-style keyboard and number pad that stretch across the 16-inch chassis. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we typed at a fast rate of 94 words per minute, even with little practice on the keyboard. In addition to the keyboard's backlighting, we like that the keys have a soft finish and make little noise when you type. We also appreciate that you don't have to press the Fn key to access media controls in the function row of keys.
The Envy 17 3D has a large 4.2 x 2.5-inch touchpad which doubles as a clickable button. Although we've given HP's touchpads much flack in the past for being either jumpy or having too much friction, the Envy 17 3D's was easier to use. Occasionally, the cursor jumped slightly--it's worse for those who use two hands--but for the most part we had little problem moving the cursor to specific spots on the screen. The integrated touch buttons were always easy to press.
HP Envy 17 3D


While the Envy 17 we reviewed in September stayed relatively cool, we noticed much warmer temperatures on the Envy 17 3D. After playing a Hulu video at full screen for 15 minutes, the touchpad stayed a chilly 84 degrees Fahrenheit, but the space between the G and H keys was a very warm 105 degrees, and the middle of the underside was 100 degrees.
HP Envy 17 3D
The left side of the Envy 17 3D is the real trouble area. We can accept a fan that blows 120-degree air. But after we played Call of Duty for 10 minutes, the left Shift and Caps Lock keys were a blazing 125 degrees. That's disturbing.

Display and Sound

For the non-3D version of the Envy 17, HP offers a BrightView Infinity display, which has a 1600 x 900 resolution, standard viewing angles, and a 60-percent color gamut. However, the 3D comes with a higher-res Ultra BrightView Infinity display, which has 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution, wide viewing angles, a 72-percent color gamut, and a refresh rate of 120Hz. The notebook also packs ATI's Eyefinity multi-display technology, which lets users connect up to three external monitors, provided one is attached via mini DisplayPort.
When we watched Blu-rays on the Envy 17 3D, we were impressed by the level of detail. As promised, the display was bright, too, and the colors were true. We were also able to watch movies comfortably from the sides and even with the lid pushed far forward, but that required us to dim the lights; with the lights on, the display was too reflective to watch at wide angles. We also wish HP included skip buttons on the keyboard; if you want to skip chapters in a DVD or Blu-ray, you have to use the touchpad and touch buttons.
The Envy 17 3D's speakers, which are tucked discreetly onto the front lip of the notebook, are powered by Beats audio technology. When listening to music or playing games, we were impressed with the fidelity and power of the speakers. Not only were sounds crisp and bright, but there was plenty of low-end bass, too. We liked that you can also tweak equalizer settings using the Beats audio control panel.