Album Cover: Narrow Stairs

"As the flashbulbs burst, she holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child."
Death Cab For Cutie / Cath...

Posted on May 17, 2012 8:27 PM in Computers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

After almost ten years of working at the same place (the speech recognition company I joined shortly after graduating college), I finally decided to move on to a new adventure. That new adventure started this week, and part of making that switch involved buying a new laptop that I could use for work.

After doing a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that you can't really garner anything from laptop reviews online other than "nothing beats a MacBook Pro." Unfortunately for Apple, a personal motto of mine is "nothing beats saving some money." I've also never been and most likely never will be a Mac guy.

Though I came away with at least a rough idea of some of the laptops that had features I liked and still fit in my price range, I decided the best course of action was to head on over to Best Buy and get my hands on a few myself. I should have known they'd let me down, though, so I ended up having to head on over to the Microsoft Store in Bellevue to take a look at their selection. Despite the annoying 10:1 ratio of sales guys to potential customers, I was able to play around with an HP Envy 14 Spectre, which I was extremely impressed by, and an HP Envy 17, which had a gorgeous 1080p display.

As much as I liked the HP Envy 17, I had no intentions of lugging around a laptop of that size on a daily basis. I was used to a 14" laptop from my previous job, so I knew I wanted to either stick in that range or go for a 15" model. Though I was most impressed by the HP Envy 14 Spectre, it was very recently released, and therefore pretty expensive, and also a little smaller than what I was looking for. Given that, I decided to read up on the HP Envy 15, thinking, like Goldilocks, that it would be just right.

There were a few common themes among the reviews I read: the HP Envy 15 was a shameless rip-off of the MacBook Pro, which seemed to be more of a compliment than anything else; its trackpad left much to be desired; and its display and Beats Audio integration gave it a leg up in those departments. Based on those themes and the fact that I had really liked the trackpad on the HP Envy 14 Spectre, I decided to go ahead an buy an HP Envy 15 online from, saving quite a bit of money even while having it shipped to me two days later (that process in itself ended up being a hassle that probably merits its own blog post).

When I finally got my hands on the HP Envy 15 for the first time last night, I really liked what I saw. The HD screen is beautiful, the backlit keys are a nice aesthetic touch and just the overall feel of the laptop when you carry it around is pleasing. That being said, there are several issues that make me regret having purchased the laptop without ever having actually played around with it beforehand. First off, the trackpad is annoying as all get out. It's nothing like what I experienced on the HP Envy 14 Spectre. The left- and right-click buttons are kind of built in to the trackpad, but they require a bit of force to use, and they are spread so far apart that you have to actually maneuver your hand one direction or the other to click them with your thumb. Not only that, but in some scenarios the buttons actually act as part of the trackpad, so while you're trying to right-click you can actually be moving the mouse around at the same time (which, if you think about it, is a terrible thing).

Luckily for me, I've gotten better and better at using the keyboard to navigate and use the mouse a lot less than I used to. That brings me to another issue, though. Often times, while reading a web page, for instance, I will use the Page Up and Page Down keys off to the far right rather than scrolling. In doing so, my hand rests on the rightmost edge of the laptop and regularly inadvertently moves the integrated analog Beats Audio volume wheel up and down, resulting in a graphic popping up in the middle of the display to show me the current volume level.

The other main hardware issue I've found is that my optical drive doesn't want to eject CDs. When I try to eject them, it acts like it's going to, and then quickly pulls the CD back in before it can be pulled out. On a few occasions when I've been lucky enough to grab a hold of the disc, pulling it out has actually scratched the CD. I believe that's a defect that's covered by the one year warranty, but I don't really feel like shipping the laptop away when I just got it (and have already started using it for work).

To make things worse, my plan to dual boot Linux Mint alongside the pre-installed Windows 7 Home Premium went completely awry, but I'll be covering that in a different blog post.

All those issues aside, I'm still satisfied with the purchase so far. I'm a visual kind of guy, so nice looking aesthetics and an HD display go a long way with me. It's also got a nice i7 processor inside and 8 GB of RAM, so it isn't shy in terms of performance.

Sticking with my Star Wars theme, I've named my new laptop "Vader." I'm sure I'll be writing more about Vader here if my opinion changes or otherwise, but then again, I haven't been the best about blogging lately.


ilpndbvb on May 15, 2017 at 5:22 AM:

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