Ultrabooks are being sold across the board at different price ranges, and it seems like pricing of products is slowly coming down. They were first launched at price tags crossing Rs. 70,000, but with prices dropping, adoption rates are likely to rise. HP has quite a few models being launched and its Envy line-up received the Spectre XT Ultrabook a while back. For the more mainstream masses, now there’s the new Envy 4 1104TU, a larger Ultrabook from HP with a more ‘fuller’ keyboard.
Design and build
The Envy 4 has the same feel and look as the Spectre XT in many ways. In fact, it looks like a larger version of the Spectre XT. It’s got a larger form factor due to the larger 14-inch screen, but it’s also thicker at the same time. The top of the cover has the usual metal finished HP logo on it—this against a black brushed metal finished top on this particular model. From the outsides, the Envy 4 1104TU is quite the looker.
HDMI, USB and foldable Ethernet ports on the left side
Open the cover and you find some resemblance to the Spectre XT. There’s a silverish brushed metal finish around the keyboard and the trackpad. Above the keyboard is the speaker bar that has a Beats audio logo embedded on it. This also matches the layout of the Spectre XT as well, with a similar styled power button on the left.
For cooling the notebook, there’s a long panel of vents at the rear. The side panels are made of plastic and feature the connectivity ports. All in all though, the notebook is quite sturdy. There’s very little flex and the hinge on the screen is decent. It’s pretty thin and gives the notebook a good look. However, there’s some display issue noticed when tilting the screen, which is due to the pressure on the screen.
Separate audio connectors on the right
The keyboard is well-spaced and the keys look larger and are easier to type on than some of the smaller Ultrabooks. The keys are soft and light, somewhat like the MacBooks. The keys aren’t backlit though. The up and down direction keys are small and placed on top of each other, making them a tiny bit annoying to use. The keyboard for the most part is well laid out though, except for the missing Pause key. There are no physical hotkeys but only shortcut keys to adjust volume and perform multimedia functions. The trackpad is decent sized and the click buttons are the same as on the Spectre XT, without any clear separation. When it comes to weight, it’s 1.75 kg in weight, which is a bit heavy.
When it comes to hardware, there’s nothing spectacular as such. There’s an Intel Core i5 3317U processor under the hood that runs at a speed of 1.7GHz. It’s a dual-core processor with two threads each and 4GB of RAM onboard. That’s exactly the same as the Spectre XT as well. Most of the similarities end there though. For data, there’s a 500GB hard drive in place of the SSD that’s found on the Spectre XT. HP bundles Windows 8 on the HP Envy 4 1104TU.
There’s a 14-inch display on the 1104TU that runs a standard resolution of 1366 x 768. In terms of connectivity, there are three USB ports and two separate 3.5 ports—one for microphone and the other for headphones. HP continues to bundle the Beats audio speakers and system on its Ultrabooks.
Keyboard layout is neat but similar to most other Envy line of notebooks
There’s an HDMI port but no D-Sub port. To save space, there’s a foldable Ethernet port as well. The battery on the Envy 4 1104TU isn’t removable, which can be a little annoying if you want to upgrade.
The notebook we reviewed came bundled with Windows 8 and we used the same benchmarks that we’ve used with Windows 7. We had some issues running PCMark 7, but excluding that, all the other benchmarks ran just fine. 3D Mark Vantage throws out a score of 10617, which is similar to other notebooks but surprisingly faster than the Spectre XT. The same is the case with benchmarks such as Cinebench 11 and other real world tests such as file compression using 7-zip, which takes 34 seconds to compress a 100MB file. Video encoding to x264 codec takes marginally longer though.
The presence of a hard drive means that read and write speeds aren’t as impressive as that of an SSD. Read speeds on CrystalDiskMark barely cross 100MB/s while write speeds peak out at 96MB/s. The screen of the Envy 4 1104TU is pretty vibrant and detailed, but viewing angles make the display difficult to view from the sides or from any vertical angle. Audio is detailed but lacks bass. There are slightly better sound speakers that we've heard on laptops priced under this range.
The built-in battery will last an hour and 40 minutes, which is a bit low considering that the smaller Spectre XT covered well over two hours without much effort.
Nice black, brushed metal finish on the rear
The HP Envy 1104TU sells at a price of Rs. 52,990 here in India. For that price, you get most of what you get in the Spectre XT, but for a lot less. The Spectre XT was priced at Rs. 64,990. but the 1104TU is a good Rs. 12,000 less. In that price, you also get Windows 8 and a slightly more usable notebook thanks to its larger keyboard and screen. The only actual lacking feature is a built-in SSD.
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