updated 12:00 am EST, Wed November 16, 2011
HP overhauls Envy 15, 17, and 17 3D for audio
HP in one of its more surprising unveilings Wednesday night completely remade its Envy 15 and 17 notebooks. The new versions take more of their visual cues from the MacBook Pro, adopting its silver-colored metal, but put an even heavier emphasis on Beats audio processing than they did in the past. Each has six speakers and a subwoofer, even going so far as to have an oversized thumb dial for volume that both gives it finer volume control and a more iconic look.
Either system marks a revisit of HP's optional Radiance displays, which improve the color accuracy to a 72 percent gamut and resolution; the Envy 17 is also purportedly 50 percent brighter than stock. In a unique trick, they use a proximity sensor for the keyboard and will shut off the backlight if the user walks away but switch back on when near.
Both systems have relatively long claimed nine (Envy 15) and 9.5 (Envy 17) battery lives, although HP noted these were "ideal conditions" and most likely would be significantly lower in the real world. Expansion includes both DisplayPort and HDMI video out that can hook up as many as three external displays.
The Envy 15 starts the line at $1,100 with a 2.4GHz Core i5, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB, 7,200RPM hard drive, a slot-loading DVD burner, dedicated AMD Radeon mobile graphics of an unknown model, and an eight-cell, 1,000-cycle battery that shouldn't wear down quickly. Stepping to the $1,250 Envy 17 gets both the expected larger, 1080p Radiance screen as well as a bigger 750GB hard drive. An Envy 17 3D at $1,600 brings the expected 120Hz 3D Radiance display, a pair of active shutter 3D glasses, 8GB of RAM, and a Blu-ray drive. Buyers can pick as much as a quad Core i7, and the Envy 17 has the option of a 128GB SSD boot drive on top of as many as two 1TB rotating drives.
Like the Folio 13, the new Envy notebooks will be ready to order on December 7.