HP Envy AIO 34" view from the front.
HP Inc. is a company whose name has been synonymous with personal computing for decades, all the way back to the Compaq days in the 80’s. Many questioned what would happen to HP Inc. once they separated from the “mother ship” Hewlett-Packard and few would have guessed they would quickly become the #1 unit market leader in personal computers. Four years ago, I was critical of HP Inc. for focusing too much on volume, less on the premium segment where experience, design and performance matter a lot and price means less.
HP Inc.’s success in the premium space is no fluke, and I have seen enough dots connected over three generations to confidently say the company has a solid place in premium PCs as long as they keep innovating. It goes without saying that for a company to remain relevant for so long, it must continuously adapt and improve its product line. I am always interested in seeing HP’s latest efforts—I have come to expect a lot from the company, and I am not often disappointed. HP recently loaned me its new Envy All-In-One 34” PC for review. After using it as my secondary device for a month, I wanted to offer up my preliminary analysis.
What I liked
To put it very bluntly, this HP ENVY 34” AIO has a sexy design. It is curved, innovative, and intriguing, with a large display that is great for multitasking. The bezels are small (if you read my reviews regularly, you probably know how much I appreciate this) The base is a nice combination of metal and fabric-covered speakers. It even looks great from the back. It is a beautiful, industrial design, and it immediately pulled me in.
HP Envy AIO 34" rear view.
The 34” ultra-wide display is great, with a 21:9 aspect ratio, curved display, and 3440x1440 resolution. Many action movies are made at this resolution, but I used it primarily to get a ton
of work done. I felt like the size of the display greatly increased my productivity—I was able to work, run 2 Google Chrome browser tabs, Word, and YouTube all at the same time. It is great being able to put multiple pages side-by-side. The Envy even has a certified “Technicolor mode,” which means that colors will look amazing—especially with movies. You can toggle the display mode with the “HP Display Control” app (though I wish this feature were in the Windows Quick Settings “drawer”).
The ENVY features state-of-the-art, mid-range, 35 watt, 7thGen Intel Core i7 CPU performance. This is higher performance than your typical notebook, but less than a high-end desktop. It worked well for what I needed out of the device, but it may not work for heavy editing. It excelled with college applications (interns used Globalcyceum, D2L, Brightspace), as well as with Microsoft Office 365 applications. While I was running multiple browser tabs, Microsoft Word, and YouTube, all at the same time, the processor kept up with all my demands with ease. I will say that with 16GB of RAM, there are a few programs that you will not be able to run. Envy’s discrete AMD Radeon RX 460 graphics is one notch below Oculus and HTC Vive VR spec, but it is very close—you will definitely have the horsepower to run many, but all high-quality, modern games.
I enjoyed the premium wireless keyboard and mouse—in keeping with the rest of the device, they are very sleek and modern looking. It took me a bit of time to get used to the combination, but once I got some time on it, I liked it. The keys are deep and punchy and worked well while I was doing market research and typing in Microsoft Word. I would not personally like to write all
of my research papers on it, but overall I enjoyed the experience. The keyboard and mouse do not show up as Bluetooth devices, so they must be RF—a good thing, in my book since Bluetooth mice and keyboards are historically very unreliable.
The 720P camera pops out of the display and normally remains hidden. I think this is a great feature—it helps prevent the lenses from being scratched, and also contributes to the sleekness of the design. It is also a good security feature, especially if you are worried about someone watching you through your camera—no more taping over the camera. Windows Hello can log you in with face recognition, which I find more quick and convenient than fingerprint scanning systems. The 720P resolution is right on par with most AIOs on the market today, thought it looked great with Skype video calls, but would prefer 1080P.
The device has 4 USB ports, HDMI output and input, Ethernet jack, headphone jack, an SD card reader, and a Thunderbolt-3 over USB-C port for future add-ons. You can also use the ThunderBolt-3 port for an external display if the 34” somehow isn’t good enough for you. The side SD-card is nice, as well as the easy access to the 4 USB ports on the rear of the system—for the sake of beauty, lots of times AIO ports are very, very hard to access for the sake of “beauty.” It also comes with a Wireless Qi phone charging stand on the left side of the base. It was a bit fickle at times and had to be perfectly aligned, but it charged up my Samsung Galaxy S8+ once I got it into the right place.
The ENVY features nice Bang & Olufsen quad speakers. The sound quality is good—loud and clear—and you can control the speakers not only from the keyboard and display but from a stylish touch control on the base of the device as well. The volume control wheel is interesting—you can move your hand in a circular motion on the stand and adjust the volume accordingly. Very premium.
While the ENVY is expensive for an AIO (retailing at $1829.99), it is still competitive with other AIOs in the market. The Microsoft Surface Studio and Apple iMac 27” are both more expensive. I think it is a good value for what you are getting in the device.
Room for improvement
As I say with all my reviews, there is always room for improvement as there are no perfect products. It is as important to recognize that there are trade-offs in any product’s design. There are really only a few areas I would like to see HP improve on with the ENVY. The display does not twist to the right or left, and it is limited on how far back and forward it will twist. It also doesn’t adjust up and down, and my neck cramped on occasion while using it. It would be nice to have more flexibility, but I also recognize that it might get in the way of the beauty of the device. Also, while the ENVY has a plethora of ports, they are not all placed conveniently on the device.
I would like for the keyboard to be a bigger. I found myself fairly frequently hitting the wrong keys and accidentally throwing caps lock on. I would also like to see HP find a way to make the power supply box smaller. I realize that with a larger device comes a larger power supply, but this one is huge, as big as an Xbox One. Lastly, the Envy could use setup instructions. Granted, I do not normally need one—but I had trouble figuring out how to turn the Envy on.
I was immediately a fan of the beautiful, industrial design—it gives off a definite “premium” vibe. The large display looks great and enables high productivity. The Intel Core i7 processor is more than adequate for browsing, streaming video content, and working with Office 365 applications and even more hardcore apps. The speakers and pop-up camera were of high quality, and it had all the ports I could ask for (convenient access set aside). The wireless keyboard and mouse were overall pleasant to use. There’s no such thing as a perfect device, but this one hits most of the right notes for me—I would be happy to recommend the new HP ENVY AIO as a primary device.