HP Envy 27 review

Pros

  • Good colour quality
  • Wide viewing angles
  • Stylish looking
  • Impressive audio output

Cons

  • No USB connectivity
  • Pricey

Let's face it: Most desktop speakers are so underpowered and tinny sounding that they are virtually unlistenable at high volumes. If you like your music loud but don't have a good set of external speakers handy, the HP Envy 27, a 27in LED backlit monitor, has you covered.

This beautifully crafted monitor uses Beats Audio technology and a carefully positioned built-in speaker bar to deliver loud, full-bodied audio. It's also equipped with a bright IPS panel that does a good job of displaying accurate colours, and it features both HDMI and DisplayPort inputs. It's relatively expensive for a monitor that lacks features such as USB connectivity and height adjustability, but if you're a music or movie aficionado, the Envy 27 is worth the extra cash.

Design and features

The Envy 27 is a gorgeous looking monitor. It uses a bezel-less design that makes the 1,920 x 1,080 panel appear larger than its 27in size. The glossy coating gives colours lots of pop but can be reflective when viewing a dark background. The matt black cabinet is only 35mm thick, and it is supported by a stand consisting of a silver metal base that is a little over 500mm wide and 100mm deep, with a silver hinge attachment on the right. The hinge allows you to tilt the screen forwards and backwards but it doesn’t support height, swivel, or rotation adjustments.

Positioned along the bottom edge of the cabinet is a panel containing four 3 Watt speakers (6 Watts per channel). The bar is tilted slightly upward for maximum projection and the speakers are nice and loud. However, once you press the small red button on the bottom edge of the bar, the Beats Audio technology kicks in. The difference is amazing; high and mid tones are much more pronounced and there's more bass response than I expected. The audio quality rivals that of some 2.1 speaker systems and saves a good deal of desktop real estate as well.

In addition to the Beats Audio button there are five touch sensitive function buttons and an ambient light sensor positioned along the lower edge of the speaker bar. The OSD (on-screen display) menus are easy to navigate and include brightness, contrast, gamma, colour temperature, sharpness, and dynamic contrast ratio settings. Management controls include audio settings, a sleep timer, and an ambient light sensor setting that adjusts screen brightness according to your current lighting conditions.

At the rear of the cabinet facing outward are VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort inputs. There's also an audio input, a subwoofer jack, and an SPDIF port. A headphone jack is conveniently mounted on the right side of the cabinet for easy access. The Envy 27 comes with all necessary cables with the exception of an SPDIF cable. HP covers the monitor with a one year parts and labour warranty.

Performance

The Envy 27's IPS panel performed admirably, delivering rich colours and inky blacks. Red and blue colour reproduction was very accurate but greens were slightly oversaturated. The green saturation level had no effect on overall colour quality, though, and did not result in tinting or cause a green cast.

The panel did a good job of displaying most of the swatches from the DisplayMate 64-Step Greyscale test but struggled at the dark end; the two darkest shades of grey appeared black. Light greyscale performance was much better, though. Viewing angles were wide; there was no colour shifting or loss of luminance when viewed from top, bottom, and side angles.

The 27in screen and Beats Audio combine to deliver an outstanding high definition movie experience. The movie 2012 looked great on Blu-ray; image detail was sharp and the picture was crystal clear. The enhanced audio was loud and distortion-free.

The Envy 27 used 30 Watts of power during testing, which is exactly the same result as the AOC i2757fh. While it isn’t what you would consider a power hog, it can't match the energy efficiency of the Dell S2740L (21 Watts).

Verdict

The HP Envy 27 may cost a bit more than most 27in IPS monitors but it offers something that the others don't; a Beats Audio-powered speaker system that does away with the need for desktop speakers. The panel delivers a bright, highly detailed picture and the Envy 27's sleek lines are aesthetically pleasing.

However, a few USB ports and a more flexible stand would be welcome. If powerful audio output is not a priority you can save around £100 by plumping for the 27in AOC i2757fh instead.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

HP Envy 27

Native Resolution

1920 x 1080

PC Interfaces

VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort

Video Inputs

HDMI

Diagonal Screen Size

27in

Widescreen

Yes

Aspect Ratio

16:9