Measuring 0.78 by 9.28 by 13.38 inches (HWD), the Envy 4-1043cl is about the same size as the Dell XPS 14 (Summer 2012) ($1,499 direct, 3.5 stars). At 3.86 pounds, it's a little heavier than other 14-inch ultrabooks, like the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 (3.75 pounds), and noticeably heavier than 13-inch competitors, like the 2.85 pound Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2012) ($1,199 direct, 4 stars).
The red and black color scheme stands out in a category that is still heavily influenced by the bare aluminum look of the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch, and HP adds additional texture with a woodgrain-like brushed pattern running vertically along both the black metal lid and palmrest. The underside of the Envy 4-1043cl has a soft-touch finish and is a deep metallic red.
The full-size keyboard will be familiar to anyone who has looked at HP's current laptops, using the same square tile keys, albeit with the shallow typing action seen on most every ultrabook. The only quirks regarding the keyboard are two half-sized up and down arrow keys and an extra long shift key on the right-hand side of the keyboard. The clickpad is covered with a subtle radial spin finish, which adds a bit of texture to the surface. It's obviously not as smooth as the glass-topped trackpads seen on the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 ($799 direct, 4 stars), or the Apple Air 13-inch (Mid 2012) $1,139.00 at B&H Photo-Video, but its accuracy and responsiveness only took moments to grow accustomed to.
The 14-inch display offers 1,366-by-768 resolution, which is high enough to let you enjoy 720p video and use multiple windows tiled side-by-side. Seeing as this is part of HP's Envy line, we were hoping to see a slightly better display, something like the 1,600-by-900 resolution display seen on the Dell XPS 14 ($1,499 direct, 3.5 stars), so a boilerplate display is a bit of a letdown.
The accompanying Beats Audio, however, does live up to expectations. When tested with streaming audio (selections from Pedro the Lion), the stereo speakers and integrated subwoofer produced crisp, clear sound, with enough bass to keep plenty of movie-watchers and music-lovers satisfied. While the quality of sound was impressive, this is one area where HP faces stiff competition—we've heard equally impressive sound from the Asus Zenbook UX31-RSL8 ($1,049 list, 4 stars), whose Bang & Olufsen speakers easily filling a room with sound.
The HP Envy 4-1043cl is equipped with a full size HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port with power for charging your various gadgets, a built-in card reader (SD/MMC), and an Ethernet port that folds into the chassis when not in use. Inside the chassis, the Envy 4-1043cl is outfitted 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0. You also get Intel's Wireless Display technology (WiDi 2.0), which lets you stream HD video to any TV through an adapter, like the Netgear Push2TV ($99 list).
To provide both storage capacity along with expected fast boot-time and snappy performance, the HP Envy 4-1043cl is equipped with both a 500GB 5400rpm hard drive and a 32GB flash cache. The mechanical hard drive offers significantly more capacity than, say, the 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) seen in the HP Envy 14 Spectre $1,249.00 at BUYDIG.com.
Unfortunately, HP includes a fair amount of bloatware on most of its systems, and the Envy 4-1043cl is no exception. On the desktop you'll find links to eBay and rara Music, a paid music service. Dig in deeper and you'll find Microsoft Office Starter, HP Games, Skype, Evernote, SnapFish Picture Mover, Blio e-reader, and a generous 6-month trial of Norton Internet Security (most trials end after 30 days). You also get a handful of HP apps and utilities, like HP Launch Box, which groups a number of apps into a single taskbar icon, and HP Application Assistant, which is part App Manager, part App Store. HP also covers the Envy 4-1043cl with a 2-year warranty, or twice as long as you'll find from most manufacturers.
|Type Ultraportable, Ultrabook|
|Processor Name Intel Core i5-3317U|
|Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Processor Speed 1.7 GHz|
|RAM 6 GB|
|Weight 3.86 lb|
|Screen Size 14 inches|
|Screen Size Type Widescreen|
|Native Resolution 1366 x 768|
|Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested) 532 GB|
|Rotation Speed 5400 rpm, SSD|
|Networking Options 802.11n|
|Primary Optical Drive External|
|Wireless Display Capability (WiDi) Yes|
|Battery Type 52 Whr (Watt hours)|
|Tech Support 2 year warranty.|
|MobileMark 2007 – Standard Battery Productivity Load (hrs:min) 7:45|
|MobileMark 2007- Performance score 283|
|3-D BENCHMARK TESTS - 3DMark06 - 1,024 x 768 - Default 5942|
|3-D BENCHMARK TESTS - 3DMark06 - Native – 0X/4X 3299|
|Lost Planet 2 (DX9) - Middle quality - 1,024 x 768- AA/AF=Off/Off 21.7|
|Lost Planet 2 (DX9) - High quality - Native - AA/AF= 0X/4X 10.8|
|MULTIMEDIA TESTS - Handbrake 1:59 min:sec|
|MULTIMEDIA TESTS - PhotoShop CS5 0:04 min:sec|
|MULTIMEDIA TESTS - CineBench 11.5 2.38|