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HP Envy 17 3D
The most stylish big-screen notebook has
entered a new dimension. HP’s Envy 17
3D features an Intel Core i7 processor,
powerful ATI graphics, a 3D-capable, full
HD display, and a Blu-ray player. Starting
at $1,599, the 3D version of the notebook
costs the same as a similarly equipped
non-3D version. But how does this machine
stack up to laptops powered by Nvidia’s
3D Vision technology?
The Envy 17 3D shares the same
minimalist-chic design as the smaller Envy
14, including a rock-solid taupe chassis
made of aluminum and magnesium. A few
touches, such as a paisley-esque pattern
of raised bumps on the lid and palm rest,
mark this as a premium laptop.
The Envy 17 3D has a chiclet-style,
backlit keyboard that stretches across
the 16-inch chassis. We like that the
keys have a soft finish and remain quiet
when you type.
We noticed warm temperatures on the
Envy 17 3D. The left side is the real trouble
area. We can accept a fan that blows 120-
degree air. But after we played Call of Duty
for 10 minutes, the left Shift and Caps Lock
keys were a blazing 125 degrees.
Blu-ray movies displayed an impressive
level of detail. The 1920 x 1080-pixel
display was bright, too, and the colors
were true. The speakers provided impres-
sive fidelity and power.
The HP Envy 17 3D uses ATI’s active-shutter
technology to display 3D content. It’s similar
to Nvidia’s technology, and far superior to
the passive display tech in systems such
as the Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d.
In order to enable 3D, you must open
apps using the TriDef Ignition program.
This is an extra step that’s somewhat an-
noying; on Nvidia-powered 3D notebooks,
programs that are 3D-compatible simply
show up in 3D. Another annoyance is
that, if you install games using Steam,
TriDef Ignition won’t recognize them
On the plus side, the TriDef sotware
converts 2D videos, photos, and DVD
into 3D. When we popped in a movie, the
software provided some extra depth and
even let us control the amount of 3D-ness
from within the player.
When coupled with an HDMI 1.4 port,
Nvidia’s newer graphics cards—as found
in the Dell XPS 15 and the Acer Aspire
5745DG—can output 3D content to
a 3D-ready TV or projector. Sadly, the
Envy 17 3D has an older HDMI 1.3 port,
so this isn’t possible.
Thanks to a 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon
HD 5850 GPU, the Envy 17 3D has
plenty of graphics muscle. For starters,
its score on 3DMark06 is about 2,900
points above average, and its score of
6,538 in 3DMark Vantage is about 300
points above average.
In World of Warcraft, the Envy 17 3D
reached 47 fps at its native resolution. The
average desktop replacement gets 59 fps.
In Far Cry 2, a more graphically demand-
ing game, the Envy 17 3D peaked at 41
The dimpled palm rest and durable feel
lend a premium air to the Envy 17 3D.
fps at its native resolution; well above the
desktop replacement average of 30 fps.
Although the Envy 17 3D has good
gaming chops, it’s no match for the
ASUS G73Jw, which peaked at 130 fps
in WoW and managed 53 fps in Far Cry
2 at its native resolution.
This notebook lasted just 1 hour and 15
minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test; that’s
half the endurance a typical notebook of
this size offers. Desktop replacements
aren’t exactly known for longevity (2:45
average), but it would be nice to use the
Envy 17 3D unplugged for a longer period
of time. The 17-inch MacBook Pro, which
has switchable graphics, lasted 7 hours
and 54 minutes.
The Envy 17 3D is not cheap, but for
$1,649 you get a premium design, quad-
core power, solid gaming performance,
Blu-ray, and a bright 1080p display.
The 3D experience isn’t as robust or as
seamless as laptops powered by Nvidia’s
3D Vision technology, but we like that
the TriDef 3D software can convert 2D
content on the fly. The only things we’re
not enamored with are the Envy 17 3D’s
short battery life and heat issues. Overall,
though, the Envy 17 3D is a good-looking,
fast, and fun 3D notebook.
Bright, crisp screen
Good 3D performance
Comfortable, backlit keyboard
Strong graphics performance
Great sound quality
Very short battery life
Parts of notebook get quite hot
Too many steps to start 3D games
Can’t output 3D content to TVs
Laptop | March 2011
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