Apple's laptops have come of age with many of their laptop models reaching the top of the market share. They have excelled especially in terms of design with beautifully thin laptops that seem more of a lifestyle product than a technical one. As the one to beat in terms of design, it was only a matter of time before another laptop manufacturer would try to match Apple, which is what HP have done with their HP Envy line of laptops against Apple's MacBook Pro. For this match-up we'll take a look at the HP Envy 15 and 17 against the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch and 17-inch laptops for a head-to-head analysis of both contenders.
Apple is without a doubt the originator of the aluminum unibody chassis school of design. The advantages have been discussed by many as the better rigidity makes the Apple MacBook Pro laptops lighter, tougher and thinner than the usual plastic. In short, both the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch and 17-inch laptops look like high-end lifestyle pieces of art, rather than computers. However, after several generations of the same look, this can get rather dated and there are no other options asides from the usual silver or white lid. The black bezels do bring a bit more contrast but its nothing that hasn't been seen before.
HP's revamped Envy 15 and 17 laptops on the other hand take on exactly the same aluminum unibody chassis but now offer black and gray colored lids. Apart from this everything else looks to be almost a carbon copy of the Apple MacBook Pro. This includes the placement of the LED backlit keyboard and the trackpad to the chiclet style keys and the black bezels around the screen. The Envy 15 is a bit heavier at 5.7lbs compared to the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch's 5.5lbs.
Features and Specifications
The HP Envy 15 starts off with a dual-core Intel Core i5-2430M processor running at 2.4GHz while the base model for the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch has a quad-core Intel Core Core i7-2675QM processor running at 2.2GHz. Both feature a 500GB hard disk drive but the HP Envy 15's hard disk drive spins at a faster 7200RPM. The HP Envy 15 also packs in a 15.6-inch screen with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution against the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch's 15.4-inch screen and 1440 x 900 resolution. Both have slot loading super multi DVD drives for recording and playback.
However, going up the model scale the highest-end HP Envy 17 sports a full HD Radiance 3D display along with a Blu-ray drive and the ability to display stereoscopic 3D using active shutter glasses. Apple have made it clear that they will never put in a Blu-ray drive while the specifications for the Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch laptop are not that different from the higher-end Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch model.
The HP Envy 15 also puts in two speakers with a subwoofer along with integrated Beats audio compared to the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch's standard speakers. Connection-wise the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch still has an edge over the HP Envy 15 with its Thunderbolt port but the HP Envy 15 makes up for this with support for Intel's Wireless HDMI or WiDi along with HP Wireless Audio so you can connect up to compatible wireless audio speakers.
Starting out from the base models, the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch easily trounces the HP Envy 15 laptop but this is to be expected from the better Intel quad-core processor. On the higher-end models, the HP Envy 17 does a much better job compared to the 17-inch Apple MacBook Pro. However, the HP Envy 15 does offer smooth playback of full HD 1080p video something that the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop cannot do despite its more powerful hardware. The HP Envy 15 also sounds better, as the Beats audio and built-in subwoofer help to elevate the audio quality. While both trackpads look the same, the glass-covered trackpad on the Apple MacBook Pro is by far more comfortable and responsive. Battery life is also much better on the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop with a battery life on a single charge of more than 7 hours compared to the HP Envy 15 laptop which only gets about 4 hours or so.
Operating System and Software
Unlike the HP Envy laptops, the Apple MacBook laptops are all using the latest incarnation of Apple's operating system: OS X Lion, which offers new levels of intuitive computing, better support for the hardware and enhanced overall performance. It also comes with award winning software to help make movies, manipulate multimedia and do more with less. The HP Envy laptops on the other hand are using Windows 7 operating systems and are usually loaded to the brim with HP branded software that are more generally known as bloatware. There is also no guarantee that the HP Envy laptops will be able to run Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system that will debut with laptops designed to run the operating system at maximum efficiency.
While you can do more with an Apple MacBook Pro laptop out of the box, you have fewer choices in terms of software, especially in games. With the HP Envy 15 on the other hand you can get a copy of the latest game and run it with ease. You can run these games off the Apple MacBook Pro using a Windows emulator but you can also expect a drop in performance as well.
Apple's products are generally more expensive than the norm and this also applies to the Apple MacBook Pro laptops. Even the base model Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop retails at $1799.00 from the Apple Store while the HP Envy 15 can be had at $1249.99 or so (depending on where you buy it). This $500 price difference is nothing to sneeze at and can go quite a long way to making up for the lack of good software out of the box. On the other end of the spectrum, the highest-end HP Envy 17 3D retails for about $1599.00, which looks like chicken feed, compared to the Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch laptop's $2499.00 price tag.
All things considered, the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop is a much better buy compared to the HP Envy 15 as it provides a better deal in terms of performance, usability and battery life. Most users buying a laptop at this price point are looking more for the usability and ease of use than pure performance. However, gamers or those looking for more features and performance would do better with a higher-end HP Envy 17 laptop as compared to an Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch laptop as the capability to display smooth full HD 1080p makes more sense with a Blu-ray drive.
This article is brought to you by Ethan Simmons, a senior contributor at Honest-Laptop-Reviews.Com