HP Envy AIO 27 review

A stylish AIO with a few design snags

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Our Verdict

The HP Envy AIO 27 delivers superb entertainment and performance in a relatively compact package, but some be turned off by its ergonomics.

For

  • Beautiful design
  • Strong hardware performance
  • Quality sound bar

Against

  • Very reflective touchscreen
  • Awkward peripherals included
  • Weak bass

Beauty and function come together nicely with the HP Envy AIO 27, a desktop PC that has everything you need to make it the center of your digital entertainment world. Unlike many all-in-one systems, the Envy has all its primary components packed into the base, enabling the 27-inch QHD (2,560 x 1,440 resolution) touch screen to remain light with a thin bezel.

That’s not all, the HP Envy AIO 27 is basically the Go Go Gadget of desktop PCs.

The base also features a 19-inch long Bang & Olufsen sound bar that naturally blends in with the rest of the base while offering quality sound for music, videos, and games. Meanwhile, the screen has a built-in pop-up webcam, which can be pushed down into the screen for added privacy and security. Ports, which include a SD card reader, HDMI In and Out, and USB 3.1 Type C, can be found on the right side and back of the base.

When you add internal features such as a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics and both a 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive, you have a system that goes beyond mere looks.

The bottom line is that the HP Envy AIO 27 stands out as a beautiful centerpiece for any desk or entertainment center.

Spec sheet

CPU: 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-6700T (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 3.6GHz with Turbo)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530; Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M (4GB GDDR5 VRAM)
RAM: 16GB DDR4 Dual Channel SDRAM (2,133 MHz)
Screen: 27-inch, QHD (2,560 x 1,440) touchscreen
Storage: 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD; 1TB 7200 RPM SATA; 3-in-1 media card reader
Ports: 1 USB 3.1 Type C; 4 x USB 3.0; 1 HDMI In; 1 HDMI Out; 1 Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet port; 1 headphone/microphone jack
Connectivity:  802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (1x1); Bluetooth 4.2
Camera: 720p HP Truevision IR camera
Weight: 24.25 pounds (11kg)
Size: 24.21 x 7.48 x 17.98 inches (42.3 x 32.2 x 4.5cm; W x D x H)

Pricing and availability

This setup will set you back $1,399 or (£1,799) (about AU$1,960), but there are lower configurations that start at $1,299 or £1,499.99 (about AU$1,700). 

The Envy AIO 27 is competitively priced with systems such as the Dell XPS 27 All-In-One, which starts at $1,399 (about £1,120, AU$1,830). The price ramps up quite a bit when you add features, but even the top-of-the-line Envy look like a total bargain when compared to the 27-inch Apple iMac, with its $2,299 (£1,849, AUS$3,599) price tag. 

The Envy can’t match the iMac’s 5K screen, so the question is whether the extra screen resolution is worth the money, because the iMac’s other hardware features – which include a 3.2GHz Core i5 CPU, 8GB of memory, and AMD Radeon R9 M380 – don’t quite measure up in comparison. Dell offers XPS AIO 27 models with 4K UHD displays, but those are also significantly more expensive than the HP Envy.

Design

With its large screen and built-in sound bar, the Envy AIO 27 is designed to deliver engaging cinematic, computing, and gaming experiences. The computer is a PC that can serve as the center of your digital entertainment world. It features a bright 27-inch QHD touchscreen (non-touch models are available) and built-in Bang & Olufsen sound bar that sports manual volume controls. 

Since the computing components are packed into the base, screen can have a relatively thin bezel, making the Envy a near perfect display for watching video or enjoying other media. (There’s even a HDMI-in port, allowing you to use it as a makeshift TV for other devices.)

Well, almost. 

The touchscreen has its fair share of glare, and although it produces wonderful color and brightness, its reflectiveness can be quite distracting. At the same time, a 27-inch touchscreen can be handy and fun for drawing apps or playing Fallout Shelter, but it’s not really a must-have feature.

The discrete Nvidia GeForce 950M can adequately handle games such as Battlefield 1 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, but don’t expect crank the settings all the way up. Fan noise becomes noticeable during video game sessions, but it never gets too loud.

Meanwhile, the sound bar produces loud and clear sound with decent stereo separation, but the bass does come off as a bit weak. Although it’s probably better than what a lot of other AIO systems have to offer, it’s too bad HP couldn’t fit a mini-subwoofer into the Envy to give movie and game explosions some extra oomf.

Sacrifices in the Name of Fashion

Usability hits a major snag once the movie is over and you want to do actual computing tasks, like writing emails and touching up photos. 

Design oversights include the positioning of its ports. The headphone/mic jack, USB-C, and memory card reader are conveniently located on the right side of the base, but the same can’t be said for the four USB 3.0 ports, which are lined up across the back of the unit. It was annoying to have to reach around the system to plug in memory sticks and other devices, even after I got used to their positioning. 

It would have been far more convenient to have a couple of USB ports on the side or top of the base, or even on the screen itself, but I suppose these kinds of sacrifices were made in the name of style.

Additionally, the pop-up webcam initially seems like a great idea. Being able to push the camera down, protecting both it and your privacy, is very useful. However, one small oversight is in how you have to tilt the entire screen in order to properly line up the image for video calls. Furthermore, the noise-cancelling microphone isn’t very good for groups, as it has trouble picking up voices that aren’t positioned directly in front of the computer.

The Envy makes quite a few compromises to usability, which include the packed-in wireless mouse and keyboard. Although the keyboard is made from polished aluminum and feels sturdy with good weight, it is ridiculously cramped.

The keys are tightly packed together, even more so than on a 13.3-inch HP Spectre x360 notebook (probably because the Envy has a numeric keypad), which makes typing for any prolonged period a literal typo-riddled pain. 

Furthermore, it lacks backlighting, so turning down the lights to compensate for the screen glare makes it difficult search for the next movie or show. So, perhaps the touchscreen is more useful than I gave it credit for

Fortunately, the included mouse is well-sized, but it’s made from light and cheap plastic. When taken together, you can pretty much forget about playing mouse and keyboard PC games comfortably. It doesn’t make much sense for a pricey desktop system to include such awkward peripherals, and they can get in the way of fully enjoying what the Envy AIO 27 has to offer. 

Benchmarks

3DMark: Cloud Gate: 15,001; Fire Strike: 3,431; Sky Diver: 10,583
Cinebench CPU: 662 cb; Graphics: 95.12 fps
Geekbench 3: Single-Core Score: 3,718; Multi-Core Score: 14,220
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,310 points 

Performance

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M provides a nice boost to 3D graphics, but the Envy probably won’t win any awards for performance. Nevertheless, the computer is perfectly up to the task of playing current games at medium to high settings. The Envy is geared for all-around entertainment, especially when it comes to watching movies and shows.

As expected, the Envy had a noticeably better CPU score in Cinebench when compared to the 27-inch iMac (596 cb) while the graphical performance is about the same (94.47 fps). However, it should be noted that the iMac does cost far more than the Envy, making HP the obvious pick for users who would rather save a few hundred dollars than have a 5K screen.

Final verdict

The HP Envy AIO 27 is an ideal desktop computer for home entertainment. It has a beautiful look, which is complemented by an impressive set of hardware features and mid-range sound bar packed into solid base. Booting from SSD and loading games from its spinning drive was a breeze, and it’s easy to sit in front of bright 27-inch screen and binge shows from Netflix. 

The system’s flaws start to show once the movie credits roll. The Envy might have fancy looks, but they come at the cost of usability. The densely-packed keyboard, which is almost dwarfed by the included mouse, makes everyday tasks like web browsing and email a real pain. This could be solved by buying some new peripherals and maybe some extension cords, but that somehow seems wrong after dropping over a grand on a desktop. 

Additionally, appreciation for the screen’s picture quality is diminished by its distracting glare. This is an issue that is compounded by how the keyboard doesn’t have backlighting, making it difficult to use in darkened rooms and the fact that you have to reach around the computer to reach the USB 3.0 ports.

Given its hardware specs, performance, and competitive price, the HP Envy AIO 27 makes a lot of sense for anyone considering an all-in-one desktop system. This could be the ideal computer for cord cutters who want everything in one convenient package. The HP Envy is well worth a second or third look.