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REVIEW / HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Special Edition

Not as impressive as it sounds

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Bénigne Millière Published on May 9, 2014
Updated on November 5, 2014
Translated by Hugh Ehreth


  • CPU Intel Core i5-4200M
  • Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 750M
  • RAM 8 GB
  • Screen 17 inches, 1600 x 900 pixels
  • Storage space 750 GB
  • Optical drive DVD drive


The HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Edition looks like any ordinary multimedia-oriented 17" laptop with an Intel Core Haswell processor and Nvidia graphics card, but what you can't see is that inside it hides a built-in Leap Motion Controller for Minority Report-like in-air gesture control. In other words, you simply move your hands in the air and the computer responds. Sounds cool, but to us it's more of a novelty feature than anything...


HP 17 Leap presentation

The lid and palm rest are in metallic, light grey aluminium and the lower part of the chassis is in a granular black plastic. The whole is sufficiently well assembled and has a certain elegance to it.

HP 17 Leap clavier(1)

The chiclet keyboard has nicely sized keys, but the stroke is too supple, not offering enough resistance to be perfectly comfortable. The keyboard doesn't feel like it's very solidly integrated into the palm rest, as any time you type with a bit of force, all of the keys push slightly into the chassis. It's backlit, which is nice, but you can't adjust the brightness, other turning it on or off. The touchpad is well sized and precise and recognises all of the standard Windows 8 touch gestures.
HP 17 Leap conn1
HP 17 Leap conn2

The connection possibilities are four USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI, an audio in/out combo jack, an SD card reader and a DVD drive. The wireless connectivity consists of Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi b/g/n, which we measured at -47 dBm from 5 to 10 metres away and -55 dBm from 20 metres away.

HP 17 Leap temp

During our stress test we found, quite naturally, that the highest temperatures were concentrated around the air vent; the rest of the chassis stayed perfectly cool. As a result, you'll want to constantly make sure nothing's blocking the vent. Fortunately, the fan stays quiet, as we never picked up any noises higher than 40 dB(A).


The Envy 17 has a glossy display with 1600 x 900 pixels and simply dreadful picture quality. The average contrast ratio is an unimaginably low 288:1 and the brightness is only marginally better at 294 cd/m².

Adora temperature couleurs(1)
Grey colour temperature
Msi Adora gamma
adora delta E
Delta E

Our other measurements don't help matters, either, quite the contrary. The colour (in)fidelity is off the charts with a Delta E of 12.7, whereas 3 and below denotes accurate tones, and the 9,228 K colour temperature is far off indeed from the ideal 6,500 K.


The sound quality through the line in/out is just about average for the laptops we've tested. It has good spatialisation, sufficient power and no interference.
HP 17 Leap audio

The speakers aren't as impressive, though. There's very little bass and highs saturate quickly. They're perfectly fine for video chats or the Windows system sounds, but not for music or films, for which you're better off using headphones.

Note: The model we were sent to review features an Intel Core i5-4200M processor, 4 GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics card and a 750 GB hard drive. The comments above refer to all versions of the HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Edition, whereas the sections below apply only to the model we tested (see inset below). Available configurations may also vary depending on the country/region in which you live.


This is the first time we've tested the Intel Core i5-4200M. It's based on the same hardware as the Core i5-4200U, with which we are quite familiar, but the clock rates are almost a gigahertz higher and the thermal envelope has been upped from 15 W to 37 W.

Performance Index

HP 17 Leap proc
Click for details

Even with its simple mechanical hard drive, the Envy 17 outperforms laptops equipped with a i5-4200U and a solid-state drive. It even follows close on the heels of laptops with a Core i7-4500U inside. It can handle complex tasks like photo and video editing with reasonable speeds.

But you do wish there were an SSD during startup and shutdown and while launching programmes, as they would all execute faster.


Like processor, like graphics card. The Nvidia GeForce GT 750M can handle many types of task and a good number of video games.

HP 17 Leap GPU

Only the most demanding games, like Crysis 3, will require you to lower the details and resolution to obtain quality gameplay.


The battery does a respectable job for a laptop like this. It lasts for 4½ hours of video playback (in airplane mode with the brightness at 100 cd/m² and headphones plugged in). This is perfectly fine for a laptop that, due to its size, is the type of computer users will typically use at home.
Leap Motion Controller & Models
We reviewed the Leap Motion Controller last summer, and here's what we concluded:

"We're giving the Leap Motion Controller two out of five stars. That might sound harsh, but we feel it accurately conveys the user experience as it stands today. Each app has its own set of gestures, so you end up constantly learning new movements, often for the same commands. There needs to be a common language uniting them all. Besides that, the body overheats, there's no single "wow" app and too much of the software is expensive and/or disappointing.

But the story isn't over. We'll be returning to the Leap Motion Controller once some significant updates have been made. After all, it can only go uphill from here..."

Now that we've tested it in the Envy 17, we can say that with the exception of the overheating, not much has improved: very, very little software has been developed for it and its location to the right of the touchpad doesn't provide the best ergonomics. Don't get us wrong, the system works right, but it's still something of a novelty item. It isn't something we ended up using for everyday tasks, and we usually just ended up switching to the good old mouse-and-keyboard technique. This is another missed opportunity for a device that seemed so promising at its inception.

Models, specs & options

We found two different configurations of the HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Edition available in the UK. Both have several different components than the model we were sent to review. Here they are:
  • HP ENVY 17-j170ea Leap Motion TS SE (£1,000): Intel Core i7-4702MQ, 8 GB of RAM, two 750 GB HDDs and a Full HD touchscreen.
  • HP ENVY 17-j171sa Leap Motion TS SE (£1,200): Intel Core i7-4702MQ, 12 GB of RAM, 1 TB of storage and a Full HD non-touch display.

One advantage with the Envy 17 is that you can easily access the insides to change the memory or storage manually.


  • Good performance
  • Quiet
  • Four USB 3.0 ports


  • We don't really see the point in having the Leap Motion Controller
  • Incredibly bad screen quality
  • Keyboard could use some work


The HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Edition satisfactorily fulfils its role as a multimedia laptop. It has enough computing power to handle everyday tasks and even run a few games, but the screen's picture quality is just incredibly poor and the Leap Motion Controller is basically a novelty item due to improvable ergonomics and virtually no dedicated software.
2 HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Special Edition DigitalVersus 2014-05-09 12:21:00
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