HP's Envy 4 is an Ultrabook with a 14in screen. The design is sleek, comprising of a brushed black aluminium lid and keyboard surround, with an eye-catching red plastic underside, just like the larger Envy 6. It looks great but the finish shows every fingerprints. See also Group test: what's the best ultrabook laptop?

The Envy 4 is quite thin at 19.8mm but not as light as we'd hoped from an Ultrabook this size. Still, 1.7kg is light by most laptops' standards. See all ultraportable laptop reviews.

Build quality is very good this extends to a very usable keyboard and multi-touch trackpad which are both recessed into the chassis so the tops of the keys are level with the surround. Take a look at our Dell Inspiron 15R 7520 'Special Edition' review too.

The trackpad is a good size and responsive to the touch, although we're not fans of the integrated mouse buttons. The natural typing position places your right hand over the trackpad but you can disable it easily.

Muscle is provided by the least powerful Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor, the dual-core 3317U clocked at 1.7GHz. There's 6GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

With no SDD and the (relatively) slow Ivy Bridge chip, the Envy 4 didn't break any speed records in our WorldBench 6 test, scoring 116. There's no separate graphics chip so the Envy 4 uses the built-in Intel HD 4000 GPU. We recorded 27fps in our FEAR benchmark so you'll be restricted to low detail gaming.

The 14in screen has a typical 1366 x 768 resolution. The display has good colours and contrast but quite narrow vertical viewing angles. The other problem is the glossy, mirror-like finish which can be annoying.

There's a good range of ports available, located on either side of the laptop. They include HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports and full-size ethernet. Other features include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a built-in webcam.

The Envy 4 is aimed at multimedia users with its 16:9 widescreen display and Beats Audio branding although you won't be able to watch any of your DVDs since there's no optical drive. The Beats Audio speakers aren't much to write home about - the 'subwoofer' is essentially a third tweeter and doesn't help much with bass.

HP quotes a battery life of up to eight hours so we were impressed when the Envy 4 raced past this milestone and lasted an extra 36 minutes in our MobileMark test.

HP Envy 4-1020ea: Specs

  • 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U (2.6GHz Turbo), dual-core
  • 14in (1366 x 768) glossy LCD
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 6GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM
  • Intel HD 4000 graphics
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • HDMI output
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • HD webcam Stereo speakers and subwoofer
  • Built-in mic, 3.5mm line-in
  • 3.5mm line-out
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • Kensington lock slot SDHC reader
  • 100 x 63mm, integrated two button, multi-touch touchpad
  • 65W adaptor
  • 41Wh lithium-ion, non-removable battery 340 x 236 x 19.8mm
  • 1.7kg
  • 1 year return to base warranty
  • 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U (2.6GHz Turbo), dual-core
  • 14in (1366 x 768) glossy LCD
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 6GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM
  • Intel HD 4000 graphics
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • HDMI output
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • HD webcam Stereo speakers and subwoofer
  • Built-in mic, 3.5mm line-in
  • 3.5mm line-out
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • Kensington lock slot SDHC reader
  • 100 x 63mm, integrated two button, multi-touch touchpad
  • 65W adaptor
  • 41Wh lithium-ion, non-removable battery 340 x 236 x 19.8mm
  • 1.7kg
  • 1 year return to base warranty

OUR VERDICT

The Envy 4 is a good looking and well-made laptop for the price. It's not as attractive at Lenovo's U410, though, and battery life is the only real standout feature. We prefer the U410's extra gaming power, but the Envy 4 remains a sensible choice if you need to work away from the mains.

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