Monday, August 26, 2013

HP Envy 17t j000 quad core laptop (Q3 3013) review and notes

For the first time in my 13+ years of computing, I purchased a new laptop. All my previous ones had been end of life company laptops for little cost or hand me downs. Often I would then hand those down to family as I upgraded to the newer one I acquired. My last laptop was a Latitude D630 which I was using casually for capturing audio/video for my drumming practice. The problem was that a Core2Duo just didn't have the juice to record 720p footage without dropped frames. Of course real time CPU compression wasn't possible so there was a significant time allotted to rendering post capture.  Not knowing at the time that a C2D wasn't strong enough and not having the exposure to newer processors like the Core series I thought I could get away with upgrading the CPU and adding a faster 7200RPM drive. Yes, that's right- I actually purchased a used mobile CPU and took the laptop apart to get another 200mhz or something silly. But I like doing that stuff. Then there was the $50 for the hard drive...which made my technical brain happy for the accomplishment but had little impact on the video editing.

Earlier this year my Grandparent's laptop crashed (one I handed down from years ago) and they were out of commission for a few weeks. Realizing how much they relied on it got them even thinking about buying a new one which was a big step for the non-computer generation. After increasing complaints about not being able to check e-mail I gave them my precious D630, with an extra 200mhz boost for checking Hotmail. At that point I had been tired of lugging the laptop back and forth to the studio and trying all these editing tricks without luck anyway so I went without.

Fast forward 6 months and I moved out of my apartment and don't have space for my desktop PC in the current location. Like my grandparents having gone without my own computer for several weeks and being tolerant but anxious, I decided to look for a laptop. It would become my primary computer that I could use at home and at the studio etc. So much for being tired of lugging stuff around-more like being tired of nothing!

The search for the perfect laptop went on for weeks. Eventually I arrived at the conclusion that there are many models out right now which share the same "frames" so to speak and have very little performance gains over each other but have significantly varying price points. I won't go into much detail but you could spend $1,900 for an Alienware with a i7-4800MQ or $1,100 for an HP Envy (like mine) for around $1,100. You can't just compare CPU models and brag about the price difference though, there are a few other things like the option (on only a select few manufacturers) for the top tier mobile video cards. Mine came with a NVIDIA 740M while I believe the top at the moment is a GTX780M (single.) Other options like SSD drives have a very significant change on performance. I'm not here to compare brands and say one is better than the other. I did a lot of research in one case I was turned off by one manufacturer because a user on YT said the laptop had great performance but the had the worst screen with terrible backlight bleed. Sorry- I'm out! My point in the rambling is that if you're even slightly technically minded and are looking for something, please do your homework. Spread it out over multiple days to soak things in, take notes, look at YT and forum posts on individual components like an upgraded CPU option etc. And don't forget to look for discount codes. I saved over $180 by waiting a week and looking for new codes. I had started to build the laptop out with one code, got distracted, came back a few days later an found a new code that was just posted for a larger discount!

And now onto the review...

...which I haven't written yet. However-I will say that the 17" 1080p display on the Envy 17t needs some tweaking with the Intel display color options. The reds are lacking and off balance. The viewing angles are just OK and colors don't have much pop. Fortunately with some tweaking we can trick our eyes into seeing the screen as if it had been sourced with better components.

My best results were as follows :
All colors option Brightness -4, contrast 50, gamma 0.9.
Red channel same as above.
Advanced : saturation 3
Play with the settings for your personal taste.

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