HP Envy Leap Motion review

Should this laptop leave the others green?

HP Envy Leap Motion

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The HP Envy Leap Motion is kind of odd – you'd think the main selling point is right there, in the name. The Leap Motion controller appears built into a laptop for the first time ever here, and is clearly important to the machine.

Except that, well, no it isn't. Not really. Leap Motion's control technology has yet to break out of the 'sometimes fun gimmick' category, making its inclusion here as much of a distraction as anything.

Think of this as a laptop with a cool new control method and you'll be torn astray, really. Much better to think of it as simply a powerful laptop, even with some solid gaming chops. Ignore the Leap, and focus on the smaller steps: quad-core CPU, strong GPU and bags of RAM in reasonably attractive bundle.

There's space for a machine like the HP Envy Leap Motion – for example, you still get people who'd say they want a 17-inch MacBook Pro, when the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display offers a lot of power and desktop resolution. This is an option for them, and a smart price.

Well, the price is largely good, but we still find ourselves drawn to HP's own TouchSmart 15 laptop. It has a slightly stronger processor, a weaker graphics card, but more RAM – but it's £400 less. Perhaps the key thing, though, is the Envy Leap Motion's screen – it's a lot higher-quality than the TouchSmart 15's, even though it's the same resolution.

If you are looking for a creative pro laptop for a reasonable price, this one lacks portability, but offers power and the kind of display you want, even if it isn't market-leading.

We liked

The HP Envy Leap Motion offers a good amount of power in a decently-sized chassis. It's fairly smart-looking, and with a quad-core Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM and Nvidia 750M graphics card, it's a good media-creation machine.

The screen is very good too, and with the Blu-ray drive, it also makes a fair media-consumption laptop. The Beats Audio speakers and large hard drive also help here.

We disliked

Sadly, the Leap Motion controller doesn't do enough to prove a useful addition, and it makes us wonder if this couldn't have been a better value machine without it. Yes it would have lost its unique selling point, but we think being a smart, powerful 17-inch laptop isn't bad on its own.

As it stands, the price is awfully close to some gaming laptops that can be a little chunkier, but that feature even more powerful graphics cards.

The battery life is also very poor indeed, and the total lack of SSD is a shame – ultimately, it will affect boot and wake times over the life of the machine.

Final verdict

HP's Envy line has had recent ups and downs, but it seems to have found its feet recently. Being (and looking like) a lower-cost alternative to a MacBook Pro-like machine is no bad thing – especially for people who want that kind of power without the cost.

While the Leap Motion controller doesn't add much to the package, it's still not a bad machine overall anyway, especially in the oft-neglected 17-inch category. However, it's well worth looking at the HP Envy TouchSmart 15 if you are considering this laptop, because it's a lot cheaper for almost as much power.