Keyboard & Touchpad / Upgrade Options
Keyboard & Touchpad
The Envy 6 is a sub-$800 notebook which is incredibly thin so our expectations weren’t all that high for the keyboard’s overall quality. Surprisingly, this full-sized keyboard surpassed our wildest hopes by providing excellent tactile feedback, just the right amount of key travel and more than enough space between the individual key “islands” to make touch-typing become second nature. The large Enter and right Shift keys were particularly welcome since most smaller slim and light products compact these in order to upsize other areas.
Is this the perfect keyboard? Not quite since at times the keys feel a bit too “springy”, causing accuracy to suffer but the textured metallic finish of the palm rests ensure that touch typists will be pleased. We also loved the fact that HP has included fully backlit keys which is something of a rarity on budget friendly notebooks these days. They may only have two options –either Off or On- but the illumination is even and will certainly aide with typing in darkened quarters or on an overnight flight.
We should also mention that HP has carried over their function key design from the Spectre series. This allows for full system control over keyboard backlighting, media functions, screen brightness and a myriad of other items without pressing and holding the Fn key. If you use the standard function keys (F1 to F12) for program shortcuts in applications like AutoCAD or Photoshop, they can be easily remapped to their default inputs through HP’s control center.
With such a high quality keyboard, we were hoping HP had put some thought into their Synaptics ImagePad as well. Unfortunately, it is the one thing about HP’s Envy 6 which feels incomplete and unrefined. Granted, the single slab of polished aluminum may look great and it actually incorporates tiny ridges to give just the right amount of resistance but the actuation of each virtual button leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of a muted “click” every time the trackpad is pressed a muted “clunk” can be heard, sounding a lot like a piece of metal being thrown around in a plastic box.
From an input perspective, this is actually one of the better touchpad’s we’ve encountered since it responds quickly and the dual integrated buttons are blissfully responsive but the sound it makes is just embarrassing. The finish also gets blistering hot if the Envy 6 is being used outdoors in direct sunlight.
Due to the very nature of these Ultrabooks / Sleekbooks, HP has integrated the battery directly onto the motherboard so an end user won’t have access to it. Even memory upgrades are nearly impossible without giving the Envy 6 a warranty destroying frontal lobotomy since there aren’t any integrated panels that grant access to the innards. So the conclusion in this section is quite straightforward: try upgrading HP’s Envy 6 at your own risk.
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