At CES HP revealed the Envy 14, a full size laptop that takes on advanced style changes far beyond what we’ve seen for laptops in the past, while including all of the hardware that laptop users today want. At first glance the Envy 14 is stunning, a stark contrast from anything with an HP logo on it.

The first thing users will notice is the complete glass cover. It looks great, but it’s also a fingerprint magnet. The HP representatives were constantly running between the laptops and wiping them down with cleaning cloth, especially for photography. Germophobes need not apply. A light-up HP logo sits on the top and is similar to the Apple logo on MacBooks, but because of the glass and glossy surface, it looks very crisp and clear. There may be no greater advertisement for HP than Joe consumer sitting in a coffee shop just using the Envy 14. It looks simply stunning.

If you’re afraid of breaking the glass, chances are that you’ll dislodge some of the connectors far before the glass even cracks. The Envy comes with a giant pane of Gorilla Glass, which as you’ll recall is really hard to break. That same glass isn’t only protecting the backside of the screen, it’s built into the palm rest to ensure there’s no wear, like what’s found on the traditional plastic. I asked about that, and was told that indeed after a few years the plastic starts conforming to the palms of users, and that the glass won’t. We’ll have to wait and see if that holds true, but it’s an interesting idea nonetheless.

Along with the everyday components, HP includes the Beats Audio equalizer. This will allow users to get the same audio quality from, say, the HTC Rezound as they do from the laptop. I asked HP representatives whether, like the Rezound, Beats audio only functions in specific applications, and they assured me that it works across the entire OS, acting more as a true equalizer rather than an app-based audio enhancer.

I’m very impressed with the Envy 14, both because it shows that the industry is finally starting to compete in the laptop space on a higher level in both design and functionality. HP is clearly going in the right direction, at least from a design standpoint, an the major departure from the prototypical laptop configuration is a huge step forward. I look forward to seeing how it performs in real life, as well as the public reaction to such a machine. I regularly take my products out for field testing, and often get comments and questions about them. The Envy 14 would be a good one to experiment with.

James Pikover

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.