I recently tested out the new HP Envy Laptop with a Beats sound system. As a long time Apple user, I was a little worried that my opinion would be skewed. But, as soon as I started messing around with the HP MediaSmart webcam software, I forgot all about the ease of OS X and concentrated on acting like a total idiot:
Aside from goofing off with the webcam, I did play some music through the thing to hear what this Beats sound system sounded like. To my ears it just sounded like a laptop. It sounded like an MP3 player. It sounded normal. It didn’t sound bad, but it certainly wasn’t special.
If you’ve been wondering what the “Beats Sound System designed by Dr. Dre” thing is all about, I’ll tell you right now: it’s pure marketing drivel.
I’m using harsh words because this computer is tirelessly hyped as having “studio sound with clarity and deep bass,” when really, all it’s doing is not sounding bad. That may not come off as much of a compliment, but really, not sounding bad is a major victory for an off-the-shelf Windows PC laptop.
The computer I have at work is exactly what the HP Envy is priding itself on not being. My work PC doesn’t just sound terrible, it crashes every time I plug headphones into the thing. I’m not kidding.
So yes, I know very well what a bad PC sounds like. I can say with confidence that the HP Envy sounds decent, and it doesn’t crash when you plug headphones into it. Well, not yet anyhow. My work computer didn’t used to do that. It slowly built up the ability over the years. It’s a Zen master at it now.
If you’ve read this far, I applaud you, because now I’m going to take the gloves off and talk a little bit about Windows 7. I’m not going to say much, but what I have to say isn’t very nice.
I wanted to take a screen shot of the Beats software so I could post it. However, the “Print Screen” button failed to work. I asked three different IT guys why it wasn’t working, and they all said it was because the computer wasn’t hooked up to a printer.
I admit, the IT people I spoke to probably could have offered better advice, but the deeper issue is that I needed to consult IT people in the first place. I was surprised and disappointed that this issue popped up on a brand new top-of-the-line HP notebook.
While I was working with this computer, uninvited applications would constantly launch themselves, open a dialog box and interrupt me. If you watch the silly video I made with the webcam, you’ll notice that I get interrupted when I’m trying to get the ZZZ sleeping animation to play.
Every time this happened the information I was presented with was either completely useless, or it was trying to sell me something. You’ve heard people singing from the hilltops about how great Windows 7 is, now I’ll give you my take on it. Everything I ever hated about the Windows operating system is still present. Its weaknesses are in your face, and you can’t make them go away.
I kind of felt like I was missing the boat with the whole Beats sound thing, so I called HP and spoke to a sales person. I wanted to know exactly what “Beats” was. The salesperson told me that there was no special soundcard in the computer, and that Beats was software that controlled the premium HP speaker system.
HP calls the built-in speakers “Triple Reflex Subwoofers.” The fancy name failed to defy the ears on my head. The speakers sound just marginally better than low-quality iPod dock. Plugging a good set of headphones or nice powered speakers into the HP Envy is a must.
If Windows PC’s are your thing, I’m 100% okay with that. The most important thing about a computer is that you’re able to create stuff with it. However, I’m 100% happy with my MacBook Pro. I just wish it had HP MediaSmart software on it so I could turn myself back into a dog.