The Battery Life of a Small Business Notebook
How long will you continue to get that hot performance when youre running the Envy 14 on battery power?
HP says the standard-issue 8-cell Lithium Ion battery will last up to three hours and 45 minutes. In our testing, it lasted 2 hours and 25 minutes while playing continuous, mostly full-screen video at the brightest screen setting. That's not a great showing.
Small Business Notebook Ergonomics
Envy is unquestionably a winner on looks and performance. If it falls down anywhere its on ergonomics, which is, in our view, an important aspect of a laptop. It must be comfortable. But comfort, again, is subjective.
The Envy's full-size keyboard floats under the hinge, with four inches below it for resting wrists, and an extra-large touchpad. The Chiclet-style keys have a fairly positive feel but not as much travel -- they dont press down far enough -- as we would like.
The fact that we received a unit with a multilingual keyboard with a slightly different layout than standard U.S. keyboards may have slightly skewed our perceptions of the keyboard -- it was annoying to type on.
When the Envy 14 is on your lap, slanting slightly downward -- usually the case when youre sitting in a chair -- hand position on the keyboard with its wide wrist rest is very comfortable. We were also pleased that the notebook PC doesnt overheat like some laptops weve tried, even over long sessions.
But the experience using the Envy 14 on a standard-height table isnt quite so good. The front edge dug uncomfortably into our wrists.
We're also not wild about the touchpad. The jumbo size is good in some respects, and scrolling by sliding your finger across it works well. But the larger size also increases chances of fingers straying and making the cursor jump on the screen. You can train yourself to minimize this problem, and its not as bad as with some touchpads weve tried, but its still there.
We also found the touchpad somewhat unresponsive at times. This was true both when pressing the buttons -- which are hidden under the pliable surface of the pad rather than being separate keys, and require a fair amount of pressure -- and tapping on the pad to click. Its likely these problems would go away as you grew more accustomed to the feel of the machine. But then again, maybe not.
Small Business Notebook Connections
The Envy 14 has almost all the connectivity and networking you could want, including three USB 2.0 ports (one of them doubling as an eSATA port), HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface -- for connecting to an HDTV), RJ45 Ethernet, 2-in-1 memory card reader and combination Wi-Fi 11n and Bluetooth wireless network adapter.
It even has a mini Display Port, the Apple video connection used in Macs. The only thing missing, and perhaps its forgivable in this day and age, is a standard VGA port for connecting to an analog external monitor.
If youre looking for a showy, high-performance small business notebook to reward either yourself or maybe a highly valued employee, the Envy 14 fits the bill. Its not perfect, but it does deliver distinctive good looks, a superb screen (if youre willing to pay for the upgrade) and knock-out performance.
And even though theyre not exactly business applications, it cant hurt that the Envy 14 does a superb job on video streaming and music play-back with HPs Beats audio technology.
Gerry Blackwell is a freelance technology writer based in London, Canada. Read his blog, AfterByte
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