HP’s new Envy Curved 34-inch all-in-one (AIO) computer looks like a curved monitor with an extra-wide and thick base.
It is elegant and minimalist, though its black and matte plastic chassis does not quite have the premium feel of an aluminium body. Embedded in its base is a computer, as well as speakers that turn it into a soundbar for the AIO.
The Envy has a few clever tricks up its sleeves. The left side of the base has a hidden wireless charging dock that can power mobile devices using the Qi wireless standard.
But it can be finicky to align the device properly to charge.
At the other end of the base is an audio dial that is my favourite feature on this computer. Instead of a knob, it has a touch-sensitive circular groove – move your finger along it to adjust the volume of the Envy’s front-firing speakers.
Its audio quality is better than the average PC speaker, thanks to its Bang & Olufsen quad speakers and dual passive radiators. It is impressively loud, too, though the bass is still not punchy enough for me.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700T (2.9GHz)
GRAPHICS: AMD Radeon RX 460 4GB GDDR5
RAM: 16GB DDR4
SCREEN: 34 inches, 3,440 x 1,440 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 4 x USB 3.0, HDMI-in, HDMI-out, Gigabit Ethernet, SD card reader, headphone jack
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
Concealed at the top of the Envy is an infrared camera that pops out from the frame when depressed. This design helps to safeguard your privacy even if hackers have hijacked your camera. It can also be used to log into Windows 10 via facial recognition.
The Envy’s 34-inch curved display is certified by Technicolor for colour accuracy. This IPS screen looks good out of the box without calibration, with lively colours and excellent viewing angles.
The screen is ultra-wide with a 21:9 aspect ratio. Hence, videos formatted for standard 16:9 displays will have black bars at the sides and the top. I feel as if I was watching a video on a 27-inch display rather than a 34-inch screen.
The Envy has an HDMI input port, which lets it connect to another device and function as a standalone monitor.
But the Envy lacks physical buttons to control its monitor on-screen display (OSD). To adjust the OSD settings, you have to use a keyboard, with specific configured keys to navigate the OSD. This unusual arrangement is more inconvenient than buttons.
Video games are your best bet for content optimised for the Envy’s 21:9 screen. Unfortunately, it is suitable only for casual games, especially at its native 3,440 x 1,440 pixels resolution.
Despite its dedicated graphics card, the Envy managed only 30 frames per second (fps) in Doom at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and at the Ultra setting. In comparison, the Asus Zen AiO Pro produced 52 fps in Doom at these settings.
•Verdict: Good-looking mainstream computer with above-average audio and an excellent curved display. Its ultra-wide display is held back by its middling graphics.
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