updated 12:00 am EDT, Wed May 5, 2010
HP Envy 14 and 17 add optical drives, Eyefinity
HP tonight doubled the size of its Envy line with two new notebooks. Together, the Envy 14 and Envy 17 gun after the MacBook Pro in design but address a common criticism of the 13 and 15: both have slot-loading optical drives and can be used as full desktop replacements for more users. HP told Electronista that optical drives are considered less important but that buyers had been pressing to have DVD and Blu-ray back in the line.
As the new flagship, the Envy 17 has not only the largest display of the mix but a few novelties for the entire industry: it carries the first Mobility Radeon HD 5000 series chip to support Eyefinity and can drive multiple external displays on its own. It carries upgraded Beats audio processing but adds a subwoofer, and the larger chassis allows room for up to two hard drives and 2TB of internal space. Many of the options and stock features on the 7.5-pound portable are the same as on the Envy 15, such as a maximum quad Core i7 and USB 3.0 ports.
The smaller Envy 14 is unique in the industry in having a 14.5-inch display; apart from producing a smaller design, it should be about 75 percent brighter than other 14-inch displays. It appears to target the 13-inch MacBook Pro and, while thicker (1.1 inches) and heavier (5.25 pounds), is faster with options for dual Core i5 and i7 processors and an option for 3G.
HP ships the Envy 17 first, putting it on the market May 19th for a starting price of $1,400. The Envy 14's focus is clearer as it will cost $1,000, although it will only ship June 27th.