HP ENVY TouchSmart 14: It's looking good

HP has been mentioning the fact that it is looking at a unified design theme across laptops to make the machines more recognisable in a crowd of laptops. And we have been seeing that of late, with the Pavilion TouchSmart 11 being the first. And now also with the bigger sized sibling, the ENVY TouchSmart 14 ultrabook. We would actually love to see that happen because a unique identity will go a long way in brand recollection, in a market crowded by many brands and many laptops.

The HP is nice to look at and solidly put together -- we believe these are some positives that will make up for the slightly heavy form otherwise. The ENVY TouchSmart 14 has a 14-inch screen with 1366 x 768 pixels resolution. For starters, this screen is fairly glossy and reflective. This is an issue that plagues almost all of HP’s non-business notebooks, in varying degrees. However, the saving grace is that this is natively quite a bright screen, and that sort of balances out the reflections at brightness levels above 50 per cent. However, this display does disappoint in terms of contrast and colour richness at brightness levels around 60 per cent and above. The blacks don’t look deep, and the colours have a cool tone, which makes them look washed out most of the time. For multimedia playback, this screen isn’t really the best.

The TouchSmart 14 has an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, from the Haswell family, and the same one we saw on the Sony Vaio Pro 13. This is paired with 4GB of RAM, and the Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. Unlike the Vaio Pro 13, which had a very fast SSD, the TouchSmart has a standard 1TB hard drive. This hardware means you can take liberties with the amount of multi-tasking load, and the TouchSmart 14 will handle it with the proverbial smile on its face. Graphics are powered by the Intel HD4400, which gives marginally better performance than the HD4000 (Ivy Bridge), at least as far as the frame-rates are concerned. All in all, while it is an improvement over the predecessor, this particular solution is a very minor improvement.

The HP ENVY TouchSmart 14 ultrabook will certainly appeal to someone who has been captivated by the term ultrabook, and only wants the very latest hardware while at it. On most fronts, this machine is a delight -- excellent build quality, keyboard is easy to get the hang of and the battery life makes it all worthwhile. But, for this price, the lack of dedicated graphics is rather perplexing. Impresses nonetheless.

Intel Core i5-4200U
Graphics: Intel HD 4400
DISPLAY: 14.0-inch (1366 x 768 pixels) with touch-screen
OS: Windows 8 (64-bit)
CONNECTIVITY: 3 x USB HDMI, memory card reader
Weight: 1.99kg
Price: Rs 64,990

>> Excellent battery life
>> Very good performance
>> Premium build and finish
>> Brilliant keyboard

>> No dedicated graphics at this price
>> Poor black levels at high brightness
>> Sharp edges around the keyboard  

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