It's been a long time since HP gave some tender loving care to its Envy line — new processors and trackpads don't count — but that all changes today. The new Envy 15 and 17 have been completely redesigned, and while they keep their stellar brushed aluminum core, the chassis now have black lids, silver palmrests, and more prevalent Beats branding with a logo on the new volume dial and red border around the backlit keyboard panel. Just as before, the line comes in 15.6- and 17.3-inch variants, but these aren't just normal LCD screens: the very bright Radiance Infinity displays are making a big comeback and are now standard across the lineup. Unfortunately, the base model is saddled with a 1366 x 768 resolution, but you can upgrade to a 1920 x 1080 panel. And even better the 17.3-inch model comes with that full HD display standard.
They're the most premium laptops HP offers in its consumer lineup, and that continues on with the internals. The base $1,100 Envy 15 has a Core i5-2430M processor (though there's a variety of CPU options, including a quad-core i7), 6GB of DDR3 RAM, a 500GB 7,200RPM drive, and AMD Radeon graphics with 1GB of VRAM. (Neither AMD nor HP are revealing the specific GPU at the moment.) It also has an onboard DVD drive (no Blu-ray option on the 15 sadly) and deeper Beats Audio integration with six speakers and a subwoofer. The base 17-inch version has the same specs, but starts at $1,250. Lastly, there's the Envy 17 3D, which at $1,599 buys you the same specs as the entry-level 17, but brings along a full HD Radiance 3D, 120Hz display, a pair of active shutter glasses, and a Blu-ray player. How about battery life? HP is promising nine hours with the 15 and 9.5 with the 17.
As I stated, it's one monster rig, and in my short time with it, I came away wholly impressed. The Envy 15 has been one of my favorite laptops since I reviewed it last year, but the new design is a welcome change, even if it does look quite a bit like Apple's laptop line. And I'm not sure I will ever be able to stop playing with the Beat-branded volume dial once I get one of these in for review. I didn't get to spend too much time with it at HP's press event, but I did think the improved single-button touchpad was much more responsive than the previous version. Naturally, the displays looks great, though quite glossy, and the build quality is incredibly solid. The new Envys ship on December 7th, but until then you've got a bunch of hands-on shots below and this handy chart of all the new Envys compared.