HP has been building some very slick-looking laptops over the last year, from the HP mini 2133's silver sleekness through to the new-look piano-black monolith Probooks.
The Envy range however, as the name implies, goes above and beyond. It's clear that HP is aiming directly at the likes of the Adamo with its investment in design.
The Envy 15's all-aluminium body oozes desirability, and rivals even Apple's Macbook Pro range. It's sleek and minimalistic, but that doesn't detract from its beauty.
The lid features a wonderfully etched surface showing an almost floral set of swirls that you can see only at angles. Open her up and the etching continues on the wrist pad, providing a comfortable texture to rest your arms on.
An emphasis on design is obvious even in the recess by the keyboard, because on most laptops everything is flat and level.
But here on the Envy15, there's a little recess from the wrist pad to the keyboard that makes this look more elegant and simple. Outside of this, the keyboard uses a Scrabble-style keyboard that feels better than the MacBook Pro in lengthy stretches of typing.
The touchpad has evolved, with the entire large rectangle supporting multi-touch gestures as well as having the buttons seamlessly found at the bottom of the surface. The surface is smooth as glass and is easy to grip, with no need for netting or textures to make you realise the mouse is there. It's easily one of the nicest touchpadswe've used.
Using the computer is much like what you'd expect a laptop of such calibre to be. Performance is strong, given that the system runs on an Intel Core i7 720 1.6GHz processor, and packs heat with 4GB DDR3, a 500GB 7200 RPM hard drive, and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4830 with 1GB GDDR3.
Proving just how much this laptop pumps, Crysis pulled above 25 frames per second average on every test but the highest, where it managed 18.
That means that on very playable settings, the HP Envy15 was scoring an impressive 40fps without batting an eyelid. And if you need better performance, HP also makes the Envy 15 with a 320GB SSD, with support for up to 16GB of RAM.
In fact, the HP is strong on quality. Aside from the grunt under the hood, you'll find some extras that make the computer shine.
Speakers from Beats (hence the little "b" on the side), a magnesium frame, a webcam capable of what HP describes as "nightvision" (using infrared LEDs), an instant-on operating system that is as elegant as the installation of Windows 7 Home Premium, and the somewhat surprising inclusion of a manual shipping on a 2GB SD card.
Even though we all love us some envy, some of what HP has done with this Envy is positively sinful. The 15.6in widescreen display can only run at a paltry 1366 x 768.
Such weak resolution on a high end computer is incredibly disappointing. To get a Full HD 1920x1080 screen, you'll have to top for the Envy 15-1021TX, which also has 8Gb RAM and a faster processor, for $3299.
Equally frustrating is the lack of inputs. Despite marketing it in at least one country as a "Professional audio laptop", users are left with only 2 USB ports, an SD slot, combined headphone and microphone port, and lone HDMI, Ethernet, and eSATA ports.
Anyone wanting to plug their own extra device in by way of ExpressCard, Firewire, or even just a typical headset with separate headphone & microphone connectors, is out of luck here.
We expected heavy use to be a drag on the battery and we got that, with only an hour and twelve minutes (1:12) on our heavy-use benchmark, when performance was needed.
But when you're not doing a whole lot? Well for our light-use battery life test we got just twice the amount. At 2:32, our Envy15 shut off and decided to go home.
That sort of life is seriously weak for a computer that exudes this much quality elsewhere. It's desirable in many ways, but the poor battery life is a disappointing letdown in what is otherwise a fantastic system.