One of the few new premium laptop brands we've seen recently is HP's Envy line, launched late last year with the HP Envy 13 and HP Envy 15. We liked both for their snappy designs, high-powered components, and big touch pads--but at $1,500-$2,000, depending on configuration, they were ridiculously expensive.
The second generation of Envy laptops is here, and the two new models are the Envy 14 and Envy 17. The new machines have some subtle tweaks, but the most important one is the new starting prices. The 14-inch model starts at $999, and the 17-inch model starts at $1,399. Breaking the $1,000 barrier is a big deal, at least psychologically, and makes these seem like a good choice in the premium-but-affordable department.
The Envy 14 is 1.1 inches thick, weighs 5.25 pounds, and offers Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors. The 14.5-inch 16:9 display runs at 1,600x900 pixels, and the system supports switchable graphics, pairing integrated Intel graphics with an ATI Mobility Radeon 5650. The Envy 14 also adds a backlit keyboard, one of the key upscale features missing from the more-expensive Envy 13. At $999, the magnesium/aluminum alloy Envy compares very favorably with the current $999 MacBook, which has a polycarbonate body and an older Core 2 Duo CPU.
The Envy 17 is about 1.5 inches thick and weighs 7.5 pounds--making it thin but heavy for a desktop replacement. In it, you've got a choice of Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, along with ATI Mobility Radeon 5850 graphics. Two 17.3-inch 16:9 display options are available: basic 1,600x900-pixel resolution (but for a 17-inch laptop that costs more than $1,000, why bother?) and full HD 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. Like the 14-inch model, it also includes a backlit keyboard, and both have Beats-Audio-branded audio subsystems.
The HP Envy 17 will be available starting May 19, and the HP Envy 14 will be available starting June 27. Check out some more shots of the Envy 14 and Envy 17 in the gallery after the jump.
See our coverage of HP's other new laptop announcements, including the new Pavilion models.
HP is also updating its ProBook line of business laptops. Clearly not as interesting for mainstream consumer types as the Envy and Pavilion models, they nevertheless deserve a mention for adding a variety of AMD processor options and dropping starting prices as low as $549.
HP ProBook 6445b/6555b
These are 14 and 15.6-inch versions of the same laptop, offering AMD's Vision Pro platform, and CPUs from the Phenom II, Turion II, or Athlon II series. These are available in June, starting at $779
HP ProBook 6450b/65550b
Intel versions of the above, with Core i3, i5, and i7 processors and optional ATI Radeon 540v graphics. Also available in June, there's no official prices yet, but we expect they'll cost a bit more than the AMD versions.
HP ProBook 4325s/4425s/4525s
Upscale-looking business laptops with brushed aluminum cases, available in Caviar or Bordeaux (black or red, to the rest of us). These 13, 14, and 15-inch systems also feature AMD's Phenom II, Turion II, or Athlon II CPUs and optional ATI Radeon HD 530v graphics. These will be available later in May, starting at $619.
While part of HP's business line, these entry level systems don't earn the official "ProBook" badge. The HP 425 is a 14-inch model, while the 625 has a 15.6-inch display (yes, the "6" in the name seems be for the first decimal place in the screen size). These offer older AMD processors and should be available sometime in May, starting at $549.