Screen & Audio Quality
The screen on HPís Envy 6 uses a standard TN panel with a highly reflective coating but despite this notebookís bargain price, the display is quite respectable. Colors arenít overly saturated (they actually move towards toneless in some cases), contrast is quite good and its response times in games results in virtually no ghosting and only minimal input lag. We did notice a slight blue shift but the only application this affected was Photoshop editing during the writing of this review. Panel uniformity was also top notch without any of the clouding and backlight bleed normally associated with edge lit LED screens on most low-end notebooks.
Unfortunately, HP finds their Sleekbook fighting an uphill battle on the resolution front. While corners had to be cut in order to allow the Envy 6 to meet a lower price point, they used a 1366 x 768 display thatís been spread over a 15.6Ē diagonal area. This results in a relatively poor dot pitch ratio when compared against the 1600x900 or higher displays many Ultrabooks are currently shipping with. We didnít notice a drastic drop in image quality when upscaling such a low resolution to a larger screen size but were some drastic clarity differences in movies and games when placed next to a Sony Vaio Sís 1080P screen.
Being a TN-based panel, miracles canít be expected and viewing angles do tend to suffer when the Envy 6 is seen from extremes on the vertical or horizontal planes. However, we didnít notice a significant drop in contrast and color reproduction until our eyes moved about 40 degrees off center. This is actually a respectable result considering most inexpensive notebooks face serious image quality degradation when viewed at anything but head on.
HP has moved towards upgrading their notebook sound system design with the integration of Beats audio processing and certified hardware. The Spectre Ultrabook used a potent one / two combination of a Beats software stack which included a full-band equalizer, a headphone amplifier and high performance down-firing speakers but the Envy 6ís goals are slightly more pedestrian. While it does use a straight forward-pointing speaker setup that blended seamlessly into the chassis and upgraded headphone processing, the Beats mixer software has been left out. Fortunately, the effect is still quite impressive for a budget-friendly mobile product.
While the Envyís speaker system doesnít push out rich highs and deep low tones, it is capable of filling a room with sound. We did notice some quality breakdown when higher octaves were reached but for the most part the sound quality was decent, albeit far below our experiences with HPís Spectre and the B&O system on ASUSí older Zenbook line.
The speaker quality may not be class-leading but some serious upgrades have been performed on the Envy 6ís headphone output. It has been grounded, thoroughly shielded from EM interference and runs in conjunction with a small dedicated hardware amplifier. Plugging in higher end headphones will allow for the crystal clear, distortion free sound normally associated with stand-alone audio amplifiers. We find this concentration on headphone capabilities more suitable for a highly portable mobile platform than speaker upgrades so HP receives our kudos here.
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