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HP Envy TouchSmart 4 preview: Ultrabook with touch

In Windows 8, the touch interface is one of the pivotal features, and an increasing number of touchscreen laptops are coming out, both entry-level and higher-end models. HP released the Envy TouchSmart 4, a sleek and energy-efficient Ultrabook that's positioned a bit higher.

(ed : You can get the non-touch version of the Envy 4 with a lesser spec for less than £500 (opens in new tab))

The 14-inch HP Envy TouchSmart 4-1102ed looks stunning, and the aluminium finish around the back-lit keyboard gives it a deluxe feel. It definitely doesn't look like an entry-level product. It's also not light for an Ultrabook, weighing in at 2.1 kg.

It runs on an energy-efficient Intel Core i5-3317U which is a popular Ultrabook processor. It's powerful enough for standard computer stuff, like MS Office, going online and playing less-demanding games.

The Core i5 is a dual-core chip that runs at 1.7 GHz with a turbo boost speed of 2.6 GHz and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 solution. The processor - which is based on Ivy Bridge - also has HyperThreading and 3MB of cache.

The HP Envy TouchSmart 4 we tested has a 500GB hard disk and a 32GB startup SSD. The 5400 rpm hard disk comes from Hitachi and the SSD is a Samsung PM830. The notebook has 4 GB DIMM RAM, and it's possible to instead put two 8 GB modules in there for a total of 16 GB. Like many other Ultrabooks, it doesn't have a DVD burner.

The HP Envy TouchSmart 4 has one USB 2.0 port on the right, and two USB 3.0 ports on the left. The other connectors consist of a gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI and a memory card reader. It has a single-band wireless card, the Intel Centrino 2230 which has two antennas for 300Mbit/s. That's better than most laptops in this segment. The wireless modules also provides Intel Wireless Display and Bluetooth 4.0.

The touchscreen is a TN panel, but at this price point we had expected an IPS screen, and we had hoped for a resolution that's higher than 1366x768. At least it features 10 touchpoints. For a computer monitor, it's important that the brightness is spread evenly in the greyscale from black to white, and that the primary colours are where they should be in terms of colour fidelity.

In the grey radient green, blue and red are too far from their ideal values. The gamma of 2.05 is lower than the ideal 2.2. That makes the screen lighter than it should be in relation to completely black and completely white. The color range is narrower than the sRGB spectrum. The individual brightness isn't great, with major peaks for blue and magenta. Only red was below 10 DeltaE94 points, the other colors are far above it. The lower the better, five is the upper acceptable limit, and three is good.

The colour temperature of 7299 Kelvin is higher than the ideal of 6500. The picture is bluer than it should be. The brightness of 153 cd/m² is low, and due to the high brightness of black the contrast isn't super-high at (233:1). A contrast of 500:1 and higher is standard.

You can read the rest of the review on the HP Envy TouchSmart 4 here (opens in new tab).