Design and build
The Envy is available in two sizes – 14in and 15.6in. Underneath, it's finished in a rather fetching red, while on top both versions sport a brushed-aluminium lid, which looks particularly good on the black model seen here. That finish continues onto the keyboard surround, framing the chiclet keyboard (which features optional backlighting) and a multitouch trackpad.
That trackpad features a spun finish that proved nearly impossible to capture on camera, but looks pretty cool in the flesh. We got our hands on the larger 15.6in Envy, which, at a quoted 1.81kg, is a little heftier than the 14in Envy's starting weight of 1.7kg. At 19.8mm thick, it's still reasonably svelte.
Like the HP Spectre XT, the Envy sports that tell-tale little red logo that means you're getting a bass-heavy dose of Beats Audio. In the Envy's case, that means dual speakers and a subwoofer for some extra grunt. A brief clip of some audio sounded pretty good for a laptop, though it's hard to judge accurately in the noisy environs of a conference centre.
Variety is the spice of life – and the Envy is very spicy indeed, coming in Intel ultrabook and AMD Sleekbook flavours. The 15.6in Sleekbook model we saw packed in AMD's second generation Mainstream APU - and while the exact specs are under wraps for the time being, we'll be giving it a full review in due course to see how it stacks up against its Intel rival. HP claims a battery life of nine hours for the AMD model versus eight hours for the Intel ultrabook version.
It comes with 4GB RAM as standard, though the model we handled packed in a whopping 8GB. It was also spinning a 500GB HDD, though the Envy Sleekbook is available in different configurations starting at 320GB.
Round the side, the Envy Sleekbook sports two USB 3.0 ports, along with a single USB 2.0 port, a gigabit ethernet port and SD card slot and HDMI port – all fairly standard stuff.
Like the Spectre XT, the Envy Sleekbook's screen clocks in at a resolution of 1366x768, though it comes in 14in and 15in flavours. Sitting pretty above it is a TrueVision HD webcam, to ensure that your every wrinkle and blemish is rendered in high definition on Skype.