The original Envy 15 was an incredibly fast 15-inch laptop when it was launched in 2009. It borrowed the MacBook Pro design put replaced the hardware with a (then) vastly more powerful 1st-gen quad-core Core i7 CPU coupled with a high-end AMD Mobility Radeon HD 4830 (later HD 5830). On the downside it also received a fair amount of complaints for getting too hot and making the fans work overtime to compensate, which was hardly surprising with those specs. The first quad-core mobile CPUs from Intel were not nearly as efficient as the current generation and built with an older production process.It was later retired in favor of the smaller Envy 14, which was fitted with the current generation of Intel CPUs and a weaker (but still fast for a 14-inch laptop) AMD Radeon HD 5650M (now HD 6630M).
This brings us to today, when HP has decided to reintroduce the 15-inch Envy on the market, but in a new chassis and with brand new hardware. The same redesign will apply to the Envy 17 and Envy 17 3D Edition, and it’s unknown whether the current Envy 14 will receive the same treatment down the line or if it will simply be retired. The new Envy 15/17 design is not a dramatic update–the laptop still looks a lot like its Apple counterpart but has a recessed keyboard and a black lid. Additionally, HP has put even more focus on Beats Audio, which now has its own dedicated hardware button on the side of the machine that allows quick access to the Audio control center. It is not surprising that HP puts the sound system front and center, because it literally is; there are no less than six speakers as well as a subwoofer built into the new machines that should bring a whole new dimension to laptop sound.
The base hardware in both the new Envy 15 and Envy 17 includes a Core i5-2430M processor along with an AMD Radeon GPU with 1GB of video RAM. HP doesn’t go into more detail than that about the GPU, but considering that the current Envy 17 comes with a HD 6850M, gamers will hopefully not be disappointed. There are of course a wide range of hardware upgrades available, including quad-core Sandy Bridge CPUs and Full HD displays on both laptops (the entry-level Envy 15 has a 1366×768 panel and the Envy 17 1600×900). Moreover, these displays are of the “Radiance Infinity” variety with 350 nits brightness. The keyboards come with individually backlit keys, meaning that each of them has its own LED.
As for the pricing on the new models, the 15-inch Envy starts at $1,100 and the 17-inch at $1,250. The 3D version of the Envy 17 starts at $1,599.