Updated: August 13, 2021 10:46:22 am
Some people argue that tech companies have started overusing the word “Pro” in their products in recent years, especially with computing devices. The “pro” is being heavily marketed for its superiority over affordable options. For me, the “pro” has always been shorthand for “creative professionals.” It may be a niche product segment, but it is increasingly becoming important for brands, given creative professionals spare no expenses in shelling out more for the top-end hardware. Although HP’s new Envy 14 is primarily targeted at creators, its starting price of Rs 1,04,999 ensures the widening of this segment that was once considered exclusive to legacy customers. Here is my review of the HP Envy 14 after using it for a week.
HP Envy 14 (2021) price in India: Rs 124,999 (as reviewed)
HP Envy 14 (2021) review: Design and aesthetics
Featuring a unibody silver metal chassis with clean lines, the Envy 14 is a lot different from HP’s ‘Spectre’ lineup of notebooks that sometimes feel a bit over the top for my taste. I found the Envy 14 more tasteful the way it has been designed, without compromising on the build quality and aesthetics. Although not an ultra-thin notebook, I can easily toss this device into a bag without concern. The notebook weighs 1.49 kg, and considering the Envy 14 is a high-performance machine, it’s quite slim and light. Connectivity ports are solid for a notebook that will be used by videographers, photographers, and graphics designers. Each side of the Envy 14 features a USB-A Gen 3.1 port. The device also has a full HDMI, a microSD card reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and one Type-C with a full Thunderbolt 4. On the inside, connectivity is handled by WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
HP Envy 14 (2021) review: Display and speakers
You won’t find a 4K resolution here, but the 14-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200p), IPS, anti-glare display feels spacious and bright. Productivity users will also appreciate the laptop’s 16:10 display compared to the more media-focused 16:9 aspect ratio. Thanks to HP Display Control, users can choose calibrated presets when they are doing creative work, like editing a video or photo.
Brightness peaks around 400-nits, which is acceptable for indoor and outdoor use. The display also covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut, which means colours have incredible punch. I am not an expert in display tech, but I found Envy’s non-touchscreen more than acceptable for basic photo editing, office work, or watching videos. Above the display is a 720p webcam, which is surprisingly good. The clever part is the HP Enhanced Lighting feature which uses the display as a ring light to artificially brighten your face during video calls.
The speakers in the Envy 14 are amazing. The Bang & Olufsen-branded speakers are loud and clear, and I experienced it firsthand while playing Dirt 5 on this notebook. They lack bass, however. I have attended two Zoom calls throughout the week, and audio quality was fine on calls.
HP Envy 14 (2021) review: Keyboard and trackpad
Typing on the keyboard feels great. The keyboard is crisp and bouncy. Keys are well-spaced and aren’t cramped and they have a good amount of travel. The two-level backlighting is bright and looks great in low-light. I also liked dedicated buttons on the keyboard to enable physical shutter to the webcam and mute the microphone. There is also a dedicated button for HP Command Center, which lets you optimise system performance. There is also an integrated fingerprint reader on the keyboard, which I found to be accurate. The precision trackpad is responsive, although large but not big enough.
HP Envy 14 (2021) review: Performance and battery
The Envy 14 is a workhorse that can handle almost anything that you can throw at it. It’s noticeably faster in day-to-day use and feels like a great upgrade for someone who wants an entry-level “pro-level” workstation-equivalent laptop to meet the productivity needs, in this case, creative professionals. My review unit not only features an 11th gen i7-1165G processor from Intel, but it also has 16GB of RAM, 1 TB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti (mostly found in lower-tier but premium gaming laptops). During testing, the Envy 14 handled multitasking across a range of applications and with plenty of tabs open in the background. Although not particularly designed to be a gaming laptop, since it includes the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti (Max-Q) graphics card, I was able to run Dirt 5 at 40 frames per second. That said, the laptop gets warm after an intense gaming session.
The Envy 14 achieved close to 8 hours of battery on my web browsing test, and that’s a strong score, considering it is powered by a Core i7 processor. This should be able to get through most of a workday as long as you are not video editing, or playing games.
HP Envy 14 (2021) review: Should you buy it?
The HP Envy 14 is a purposefully designed laptop that caters to someone who’s into graphic design, editing photos and videos. I am not the target user of the Envy 14, because I only need a low-end machine that can run a web browser and Google Docs. HP gets a lot of things right with the Envy 14 to make a “pro” notebook more accessible. The fact that HP managed to pack a lot of premium features in a more compact 14-inch chassis is impressive. However, it is still an entry-level “pro” notebook and the competition in this space is getting stiff