HP Envy 17 3D Review - Connectivity and Usability Review

After wooing us with its sleek design and high specifications, HP doesn’t let up when it comes to connectivity. For storage and peripherals, we have two USB 2.0 ports, one combined eSATA/USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 socket (as with the Lenovo ThinkPad W701ds, distinguished only by the subtle super-speed logo rather than the more usual blue livery) and a memory card reader.

Audio is catered to with dual headphone sockets, one of which also carries digital audio and doubles as a microphone jack. On the video front, you’ll find a mini DisplayPort, HDMI v1.3 and good old VGA, while networking and wireless are handled by Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth. Aside from maybe an ExpressCard slot (and we don’t even see a particular need for one of those with everything on offer) this Envy really isn’t wanting for anything.

HP’s excellent reputation for keyboards is done proud by this full-size example. Though it’s isolation-style and feedback is consequently shallow, there’s a positive click to each well-spaced key. Combined with their soft finish and the textured palm-rests, the Envy 17 3D is a pleasure to type on. Furthermore, the keyboard is backlit in white for those late-night gaming (or typing) sessions.

Likewise, the multi-touch ClickPad (so called because it integrates its buttons into its active area, a la Apple’s MacBook range) is generally great to use. It’s responsive, large enough that gestures are effortless and sports a smooth surface, while its ‘buttons’ offer good feedback. However, to a lesser extent it does suffer from the same issues we experienced with the ClickPad on the HP tm2, where on rare occasions it would register a press on one of its ‘buttons’ as a touch and move the cursor.

We found the pad didn’t really interfere with typing, but HP’s solution for deactivating it is as convenient as it gets: simply double-tap on the pad’s top left corner, and an orange LED will indicate its inactive status.

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