Keyboard and TouchPad
The HP Envy TouchSmart 4 comes with HP's standard island-style keyboard. This is good news for most as I find HP's standard keyboard to be quite comfortable and capable. I find myself to be partial to the keyboard equipped on HP systems.
The keyboard is, of course, recessed into the system to prevent the keys from connecting with the screen and causing damage. The recess is a bit larger than other Ultrabooks and allows the keys to be higher than other systems.
Because the keys are higher, they have more travel. This vastly helps the typing experience and I'd be willing to sacrifice some thinness any day for the vastly improved typing experience. However, the keyboard does feature quite a bit of flex, something I found both distracting and annoying. It certainly affected my typing ability and detracted from an otherwise awesome keyboard implementation.
Key travel is smooth, though not quite as stiff as I would like to see. The keys bottom out solidly and aren't too loud. The sound that is present aids the typing experience for those of us who like the click of a keyboard.
The keys have a matte texture on the surface and appear to be perfectly flat. The surfaces of the keys are black, which sets them off from the rest of the silver palm rest. They have a good tactile feel that I could type on for hours.
The Envy TouchSmart 4's keyboard comes with a backlight, a feature that I love on any system. HP's implementation doesn't give any choice as to the brightness and it can be a bit bright when in a really dark room.
The touchpad is made from a single piece of material, with all sections touch sensitive and able to be pushed down for a left click. There is no visible delineation for left or right click, meaning you have to take a guess as to where left click ends and right click begins.
The touchpad area is recessed down into the palm rest of the machine. The touchpad itself is then raised above the recessed area. The touchpad surface has circle grooves and results in an interesting feeling that is hard to describe. I can say that I am not a fan of the touchpad on this system.
The HP Envy TouchSmart 4, as the name implies, is equipped with a touchscreen. The 14-inch screen pushes out a resolution of 1366x768 and is covered in edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass. This means both glare and fingerprints could be a problem, though a problem that is present on really any touch-enabled system.
Color reproduction on the Envy TouchSmart 4 isn't as good as an IPS display. It appears to make use of a TN panel and color is quickly distorted when adjusting the viewing angle in the vertical direction. It's not as bad in the horizontal direction, though it's still noticeable.
An interesting note: When looking at an off angle, the screen has weird visible lines. They appear to be on the glass and could be the result of manufacturing. It's not clear what put them there, but they are distracting when looking at the screen from an off angle.
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