HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4

With an ultra-long name, HP's newest ultrabook brings touch into play.

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Laptops with touchscreens aren't new territory for HP. Windows 8 and its touch-friendly interface, however, gives consumers more of a reason to have one, even on traditional laptop designs like the new HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4.

It looks like a pretty standard laptop, albeit a nice-looking one, with brushed black metal on the outside and nothing but a simple HP logo decorating the lid. There's silver trim around the outside, giving you a hint about the brushed silver metal inside, surrounding the keyboard.

The ultrabook branding may make you think that the Envy is especially thin and light; it is not. However, at just less than 25mm and weighing 2.13kg, it's certainly not huge and heavy.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Open it up, and you'll see that there's barely a bezel around the 14-inch touchscreen, so you can more easily take advantage of Windows 8's active edges for opening the Charms bar, closing apps or flipping through your open windows.

For those expecting a 1920x1080-pixel resolution display, you'll have to spend more money for the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart; the Envy's resolution is 1366x768 pixels, which is what we're seeing on many of the cheaper ultrabooks.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

The keyboard is shallow, so there's not much key travel. But that can be said of many ultrabooks with island-style keyboards; it's something that gets sacrificed with slimmer bodies. It's otherwise a nice keyboard, with big, square, well-spaced keys.

The touch pad is big, but it lacks discrete mouse buttons. Instead, you'll just see a line sectioning off the bottom of the pad for left and right clicks. The touch pad is a bit too sensitive to brushes from your palm when typing at the default settings, but it can be adjusted somewhat with its software.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

You can also turn on and off multi-touch gestures for pinch to zoom, rotate and two-finger scrolling. And for those times when you don't feel like getting fingerprints on your screen, you can use the touch pad for the active edge functions of Windows 8, such as bringing up the Charms bar.

The speakers are under a grille above the keyboard, and are fine for casual listening. They're capable of pushing out decent audio, but, regardless of their Beats Audio processing, you won't mistake them for a good set of external speakers.

Above the screen is an HP TrueVision HD webcam. It works well with the bundled CyberLink YouCam software, but you'll still want good lighting to avoid noise and off colours.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Though you won't find the Thunderbolt port that's on the Spectre XT TouchSmart, you do get a good assortment of connections. On the left, you'll find Ethernet, HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports and a memory card reader. The right side has the power jack, a USB 2.0 port and headphone and mic jacks.

Pricing for the Envy TouchSmart in the US starts at US$799, but we're still waiting for Australian details.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Via CNET.com

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