Archive: PC and Mac Laptop Reviews 2008-2011

REVIEW / Test: Envy 14-1114ef Beats

14 inch

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Alexandre Botella Published on March 11, 2011
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SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU Intel Core i7-720QM
  • Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD5650
  • RAM 4 GB
  • Screen 14.5 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
  • Storage space 6.4E-7 GB
  • Optical drive DVD rewriter
HP is presenting the Envy 1114ef, a joint effort from HP and the Dr Dre audio brand. It aims to respond to the needs of music makers and more generally anyone else disappointed by integrated chipsets, without sacrificing performance or battery life. Will the Envy succeed in making us want it?

Design and build: impeccable finish

The Envy-1114ef is a nice object, no doubt about it. Its finish is simply impeccable. No matter where you press on the chassis, it won't give at all. Note that the outside of the screen is glossy, which makes it a magnet to finger marks.

Envy-14-1114ef_clavier

The keyboard with separated keys has backlighting that can be deactivated to preserve battery life. The palm-rest has a soft coating, which makes it a real pleasure to use. The keys are well proportioned and well positioned. Keying is supple, agreeable and quiet. Great for word processing.
 
The multitouch touchpad is precise, sufficiently wide, and you can perform a right click anywhere on it. Some members of the editorial team here don't like the fact that you can right click the touchpad itself however as this can cause a problem when you're used to putting more than one finger on the buttons. More unanimously, the coating is a problem. While the palm-rest is soft, the touchpad is slightly sticky and holds up the end of your finger. This can get annoying.

Compaq Mini 311cThe webcam gives a good quality picture. Exposure is good, as is the level of detail in black tones and the restitution of movements. Perfectly okay for daily use.

The connectivity is pretty standard. On the left, there's a slot-in optical drive, two USB 2.0 ports, a combo headphones out/mic in socket and a second headphones out. On the right, you'll find the RJ45 port, the mini-DisplayPort and HDMI outs and an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo. Lastly, the SD card reader is on the front.

The fan is quiet at start-up but noise levels increase rapidly as soon as you ask a bit more of the laptop. Even against background noise, it is pretty audible. Temperature levels are however kept under control. The Envy 14-1114 Beat Edition doesn't exceed 40°C, even during heavy gaming.

Envy 14 1114 temperature
Fluke ti25 distrame%281%29

Envy 14-1114 Beat Edition temperature readings when you push the components hard
Readings taken using a Fluke Ti25 (Distrame) camera

Envy-14-1114ef_dessous
Underneath, with the panel off
 
Envy-14-1114ef_capot Hood
 

Envy-14-1114ef_gauche
  DVD rewriter, USB 2.0 (x2), headphones/mic out combo, headphones out
Envy-14-1114ef_droite
Combo USB 2.0/eSATA port, mini-DiplayPort, HDMI, RJ45 and power supply socket


Processor power: excellent performance

The least you can say is that HP and Dre haven't neglected to match the innards to the finish. Thanks to a Core i7-720QM, this 14.5 inch will handle even the most demanding processing. In comparison with our reference machine, the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650, with an index of 100, the Envy 14-1114ef Beats scores 140. This is quite simply excellent and you can feel the rapidity in your everyday tasks. A very responsive machine. It is even capable of satisfying users who do a lot of photo retouching or HD video encoding.
The turbo mode - automatic - integrated in Core i7s is of course everything to do with this excellent showing as the processor can adapt its clock (up to 2.8 GHz) according to the application being used. For some pieces of software (video encoding for example), the Core i7 720QM will use all four cores (x2 thanks to hyperthreading), while for others (the majority of games) only two cores will be used with a higher clock. This is a very effective system in practice. You can sometimes double the performance levels you get on a dual core model.

HD 1080p video playback (Blu-ray equivalent) is a walk in the park for such a machine. Although the processor can easily handle this task itself, it is preferable to let the graphics card do it. That way, the CPU is freed up and energy consumption falls to keep battery life to a max.

Windows 7 Family Edition 64-bit takes 50 seconds to boot and you'll need to wait another 10 to 20 seconds for the various background applications to start running (antivirus off). It turns off in twelve seconds.

Gaming: good capacity


With its ATI Mobility Radeon HD5650, the Envy 14-1114ef Beats allows you to do pretty much all your gaming at native res (1366 x 768 pixels). Older or less demanding titles, such as Half Life, Left 4 Dead or Starcraft 2 (single player) can run at max or high settings. On more demanding titles such as the latest Call of Duty, you'll need to lower settings a bit to retain optimal fluidity.

Audio: big headphones and little speakers

HP talk up the audio technology on their Beats range. Unfortunately, apart from the costly - but not exceptional - headphones that come with the laptop, you're left wanting more.

Sure, the dedicated headphones out is impressively clean and loud enough for the demanding headphones but what to say about the weak speakers that crackle and are hidden under the keyboard? Can do better!

Battery life: don't stray too far from the power socket

While a 14.5 inch isn't really an ultra, the Envy 14-1114 is sufficiently compact to be slipped into your rucksack. At two kilos, it sits better on your knees than under your arm, but in a rucksack, it can be carried around without too much trouble.

Unfortunately however, battery life is under 2h for video playback (wi-fi deactivated, headphones plugged in, brightness at 100 cd/m²). This is a shame for a product of this size, but not very surprising given the performance of the graphics card.
A poor screen
[note(1,,right)]


The screen used for the Envy 14-1114ef Beats is unfortunately glossy. When using it outside, sun rays will pose a definite problem.

Its 14.5-inch screen has a 1366 x 768p resolution, Although a higher resolution wouldn't have been amiss, the characters are a good size and cause no excessive visual fatigue.

TN technology is used here, with ghosting equivalent to 5 ms models. Viewing angles from above and below are therefore narrow, alongside responsiveness that's sufficient for working on office documents and viewing films. For gaming - something the Envy 14 should be equipped for - we would have rather had something closer to a 2 ms.

Although this model is well finished and has effective components, the colours leave something to be desired. From a manufacturer that also sells screens, we would have preferred to see more of an effort on what is a high-end product after all.

Default colours are poor, with a Delta E of 11.8 and a very marked colorimetric shift towards blues. The contrast is also poor - as with most current laptops - with a ratio of 222:1. We measured black levels at 0.90 Cd/m², for whites at 201 Cd/m².

To correct the colours you can download a calibration profile from our profiles page, though we can't help you with the contrast.

PROS

  • Finish
  • Very strong CPU performance
  • Good quality webcam
  • Good gaming performance

CONS

  • Panel with very low contrast (222:1) and inaccurate colours
  • Poor quality speakers
  • Touchpad coating disagreeable after some time
  • Poor battery life

CONCLUSION 4/5

A high-performance, well-finished laptop, but a bit low on battery life all the same. The poor screen also lets it down somewhat overall.
4 HP Envy 14-1114ef Beats DigitalVersus 2011-03-11 00:00:00
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