HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE: Keyboard & Trackpad
HP has used the hefty dimensions of the Envy 17 to add a numberpad alongside the keyboard, and there are no layout issues elsewhere.
The size of this machine also means keys have more travel than the Ultrabooks and lightweight laptops that dominate the market, and HP has made the typing action consistent, too, so we quickly hit our stride without any hiccups.
It’s not a clean bill of health. The keys are a tad too light to match the more satisfying typing surfaces on the best notebooks, and the left-hand side of the keyboard has a base that’s wobbly enough to prove distracting.
The trackpad is wide, smooth and responsive, but we’re no fans of its two buttons: they’re built into the surface, there’s no indication about their location, and they’re not light or fast enough to click for our liking.
Other things to consider
The Envy 17 we’ve reviewed is the most expensive model thanks to its Leap Motion controller, high-end components and two-year warranty, but thankfully it’s possible to cut down the specification to save money.
One model retains the Leap Motion controller, the Core i7 processor and the Nvidia GPU, but it has 8GB of RAM, no touchscreen and just one year of warranty – but at £999 it’s much cheaper than the machine we’ve reviewed. If you’d like that model, search for 17-j170ea.
Even more cash can be saved with the 17-j101ea. This version of the Envy 17 drops Leap Motion, steps down to a Core i5 processor and has no touchscreen, but it still has the same discrete Nvidia graphics and costs £799.
Should I Buy the HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE?
We can understand the excitement behind gesture control, but the inclusion of Leap Motion in this system is misguided. It lacks the accuracy and consistency to work well with games, it’s largely redundant in more mundane apps because of this machine’s touchscreen, and the app selection is limited.
In other areas, too, the Envy 17 fell below our expectations. The reasonable levels of processing and games performance are bettered by other machines at similar prices, and the HP’s internals proved loud and extremely hot in our tests.
The poor Leap Motion technology is a shame because, in other departments, the Envy impresses. Other systems may be faster, but the Core i7 processor, discrete graphics, 12GB of RAM and 1TB hard disk make this an extremely well-rounded specification. The keyboard is good, the speakers are punchy, and the screen is bright and has a sensible resolution.
The addition of Leap Motion means this system is just too expensive, though, and the presence of faster rivals mean we’d look towards those machines if you have a specific task in mind: gamers will be better served by the MSI GT70, and the Toshiba Satellite P50t is faster in applications.
If you need a jack-of-all-trades desktop replacement, the Envy remains tempting – although we’d advise dropping the Leap Motion and buying the cheaper model instead.
Leap Motion’s gesture control technology sounds impressive but doesn’t deliver thanks to a lack of consistency and accuracy. Elsewhere, it’s a mixed bag: fast but hampered by high heat and noise levels, with middling battery life, a good keyboard, and a decent screen. Cheaper models without Leap Motion are good all-round desktop replacements, but specialised rivals are better suited to specific tasks.
Score in detail
Screen Quality 7
Build Quality 8
Heat & Noise 2
Battery Life 5