ATi 3D technology
Strong graphics card
Beats sound technology
3D tech not as good as Nvidia's - yet
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HP has updated its Envy 17 laptop to include ATi's latest 3D technology, a direct competitor to Nvidia's 3D Vision, and the result is a desirable media machine that is perfect for keeping the family fully entertained.
ATi has used the same stereoscopic system as Nvidia's 3D Vision, with glasses that use active shutters to produce the 3D image. There's no external dongle to clutter your USB ports, as the 3D technology is built into the chassis.
ATi's technology is currently not as widely supported as Nvidia's, with just over a dozen games currently compatible, including major titles such as Modern Warfare 2 and World of Warcraft. We suffered no discomfort wearing the glasses for extended periods, although they're not flattering.
However, we were highly impressed watching 3D video as the picture is a lot brighter than with Nvidia's technology, as well as pleasingly crisp.
Credit for the great picture goes to the 17.3-inch widescreen display which, along with the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G, features a Full HD resolution.
The Envy's speakers feature HP's Beats technology and they also impress.
The Intel Core i5 580M processor may not be quite as powerful as the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G and Samsung RF710-S03UK's Core i7 CPUs, but is still capable of multi-tasking with resource-heavy software.
The dedicated ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5850 graphics card produced good graphical performance and is ideal for intensive photo and video editing software, and HP has even bundled a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements to start you off.
The Envy has a firm and highly usable isolation-style keyboard, but we found ourselves frustrated by the touchpad with its integrated mouse buttons. Pushing the corners of the pad to simulate left and right mouse button clicks is a stiff and irritating experience.
The HP's minimalist, all-metallic chassis is solid, although, at 3.7kg, it's not one to carry on a long journey. The 123-minute battery life narrowly beats the Asus N73J, but falls behind some other big-screen laptops.
A whopping 1.5TB of storage beats most other media centre laptops and should keep you going for the life of the laptop, while the Blu-ray drive can be used to watch films.
Plenty of ports are available, including a DisplayPort in addition to VGA and HDMI connections. Four USB ports, including a speedy USB 3.0 option, can be used to connect peripherals.
The Envy 17 is a fantastic 3D-ready media machine with incredible graphics and display. 3D compatibility may not match Nvidia's 3D Vision at present, but we expect the gap to quickly narrow.