Review Price £1,099.97
For those occasions where you don't want to use the Envy 14-1195ea's included Monster Beats Solo headphones, this Envy's speakers have also been given the Dr Dre treatment – though we suspect this is just some additional processing thrown in with the same speakers as the regular edition Envy.
As expected, the audio these stereo efforts provide is good, but it's not great. They manage to pump out plenty of volume without distorting, and produce a high and mid-range with good clarity and detail. Surprisingly though – especially given the Beats Solo bass prejudice – they're not great on the low end. In fact, they sound a tad tinny, robbing explosive entertainment of much of its impact. This is only partially compensated by the Beats processing, and even an aurally inferior laptop like the Dell XPS 15 isn't far behind in terms of audio performance.
Thankfully the 14-1195ea's 14.5in screen isn't as ambiguous, though some might think its 1,366 x 768 resolution a bit low for a premium machine - at least compared to the Apple Macbook Pro's 1,440 x 900 and especially the XPS 15's (optional) 1,920 x 1,080.
However, aside from the poor vertical viewing angles that are almost inevitable with a TN-based screen (the Samsung Series 9's awesome display being a notable exception), we have few complaints. Horizontal viewing angles, for example, display very little contrast or colour shift. Of course the glossy screen finish causes distracting reflections with any kind of ambient light present, but it also lends a little extra brightness to already punchy colours.
This is helped by excellent contrast at the dark end of the scale, allowing you to see every last detail in gloomy games and movies. Nor is there any clouding or backlight bleed to mar its performance. Finally, sharpness is excellent with little sign of banding or other artefacts.
Unsurprisingly, considering its powerful components and lack of graphics switching, battery life is not great. Its rather stingy 3,760mAh battery only managed to power the 14in laptop for three hours and 40 minutes in our semi-intensive Productivity test. It did far less well in MobileMark's DVD test with screen brightness at 100 percent, dying at just short of two hours.
However, it's on value that the 14-1195ea really falls down. At £1,100, there really is no compelling argument for this machine. Quite simply, it's terrible value, even if you think the headphones are worth around £150. Compared, for example, to a Dell XPS 15 for that kind of money, it would give you a faster and more efficient Sandy Bridge CPU, better graphics, an SSD, more memory, an HD webcam and superior connectivity.
Though it's undeniably a stylish and attractive machine which has plenty of power even for a fairly intense workload, the HP Envy 14 14-1195ea Beats Edition doesn't excel enough in any area to justify its ridiculously high price, and the inclusion of the sub-par Beats Solo headphones doesn't help.
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