Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE Review - Keyboard, Trackpad, Specification Options and Verdict Review

Sections

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.

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.

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.

Read that? Now read this: our latest high-end laptop reviews or 2014’s best Apple and Windows notebooks

Unlike other sites, we test every laptop we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main laptop for the review period

Tested for at least a week

Used consistent benchmarks for fair comparisons with other laptops

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world use

Trusted Score

rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star rating-star

Score in detail

  • Performance 7
  • Keyboard 7
  • Design 7
  • Screen Quality 7
  • Build Quality 8
  • Value 6
  • Touchpad 6
  • Heat & Noise 2
  • Battery Life 5

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.