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HP and Beats by Dre laptops : Straight Outta Comp Sci

Celebrities endorse a lot of products, but so far computers have escaped such vicious marketing attempts. Maybe locking them up in Big Brother stopped their famous-paws from grasping at the computer market. As with the Channel 4 reality show, however, this is all about to end. HP have enlisted the help of Dr. Dre, the legendary artist and music producer. His mission? Turn HP’s ENVY laptop range into mini-boomboxes.

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The ENVY systems now boasts Beats Audio, a “unique, high-performance technology developed by HP and Beats by Dre to provide the optimal sound experience.” Which sounds good on paper, although the problem is that we’re not entirely sure what Beats Audio is.

It appears to be some kind of advanced driver design, which allows for precise audio clarity. The exact optimisations are unclear however, and a lot of reviewers haven’t heard a difference when listening to playback through the computer’s speakers. The subwoofer included in the ENVY17 model might help, but the ENVY14 lacks the bass booster and reported sounds are average.

The internal audio hardware, however, is top-notch – which means quality external speakers are what make the system an audio giant. The problem is, with average sound coming out of the box, who has a laptop that they frequently plug in to dedicated speakers?

The black and red aluminium’ stylings and slot-loading DVD drive, however, make the laptops a treat for the eyes, even if the ears are left wanting. And they come with a pair of Monster headphones (also with Beats by Dr. Dre technology). These have been famously well received in the past, so there is definitely a headphone incentive to pick one of these systems up.

While the jury is still out on whether HP are giving us powerful beats straight from the laptop, the ENVY range is definitely providing some powerful beasts. The Intel processor, an i5 or i7, coupled with an ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5650 graphics card (1GB dedicated memory) and the LED display make the ENVY14 a hot prospect.

The ENVY17 bumps this up to an ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5850 graphics card, with a ridiculous maximum hard drive size of two terabytes. It’s also got a 3D display, so when you don the 3D specs you’ll be ready for a new age of interactive video and gaming.

Battery-life should also roll in at about 6.5 hours, with that going up to 13 with the option extended battery-life battery.

The headphones are a definite improvement over any cheap ones you might get out of a Christmas cracker (or bundled with an iPod), but does that warrant a complete laptop rebrand? Users looking for brilliant sound straight out of the laptop may be disappointed.