Let's get down to the nuts and bolts. We've seen the hard numbers and the subjective feelings towards this computer, so just where does it stack up? Taking the price into consideration, it does pretty well. The system is currently available directly from HP for $749.99 at the time of writing and can be customized with an upgraded processor and 8GB of RAM.
I'm not a huge fan of the styling that HP employed for the Envy TouchSmart 4; I feel the Folio 13 is a much better look. However, it does feel to be a quality system being clad in aluminum and all. The keyboard is one of the best I've used on a notebook system, though I find myself quite partial to HP keyboards, as I stated before. There is, of course, some left to be desired from the keyboard, such as less flex and a slightly dimmer backlight.
Battery life is also impressive, providing some of the longest battery life we've seen from any of the notebooks we've tested. This extra battery life comes at the cost of a slightly thicker system and slightly increased weight, but that will always exist as a tradeoff.
One major issue with the Envy TouchSmart 4 is that of its gaming performance. It falls quite far behind other Ultrabooks we've tested and I can't advise you to purchase this system if you're planning on doing any sort of gaming at all.
For a college student who doesn't game, the TouchSmart 4 could be the perfect mix of performance, portability and battery life. While an SSD would be preferred, the 500GB hard drive could come in handy for students who need to take lots of data with them, and it doesn't cost a fortune to buy. Worth noting is the inclusion of Beats audio. HP assures me that they've done more than just stick a Beats logo onto the chassis. According to HP, they've reworked the audio system with the help of Beats to achieve the best sound performance possible. It appears to have worked as the sound is loud and high-quality.
I still dislike 1366x768 screens, but on a 14-inch machine, it's not quite as bad. It's still one of the worst resolutions in existence in my opinion, but I can at least deal with it on a machine of this size.
I do have a few concerns regarding quality. I've purchased my fair share of HP systems. As of late, I've had several systems come from the factory with defects; either scratches or a malfunctioning part. This makes it quite a bit harder to recommend. However, HP's online store has a great return policy, which helps to mitigate this concern.
In the end, the Envy TouchSmart 4 would be a good choice for a college student, if they don't plan on gaming.
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