5 Tips and Tricks to get the most out of your HP Envy 15


by Omar Dec 16, 2009 fileunderFound in HP Envy 15 (2009)


The Envy from HP is now considered to be one of the first laptops to truly rival Apple's Macbook Pros, and in many ways surpasses them. After owning mine for a few weeks I've discovered a few settings to change that aren't difficult but make the laptop function substantially better.

1. Advanced Touchpad Features

While the default touchpad has a few gestures such as two-finger swiping, pinching and rotating, through some simple setting changes the touchpad is capable of much more.

To change: Control Panel->Mouse->Device Settings tab

In this area you'll find many different customization options, there are plenty to play around with and personalize to suit your needs. Personally, I love the One-Finger Scrolling using "ChiralMotion". It essentially lets you turn the touchpad into a scroll-wheel a la original iPods which makes navigating long documents a snap. I also made some modifications to the sensitivity and PalmCheck settings to reduce the number of false positives (I have big hands).

2. Sound Enhancements

By default the speakers can sound pretty weak, considering great audio is one of the main feature selling points of the laptop it was pretty disappointing. Until I found the "Enhancements" setting which increased audio to very respectable levels.

To Change: Control Panel->Sounds->Enhancements | Activate "Loudness Equalization"

You can play with the other enhancements, but I found the Loudness Equalization to make the biggest difference in volume.

3. Disable Adaptive Brightness

I think it's a selling point of the laptop, but I personally hate it, is the adaptive brightness of the monitor. What you see is when there is bright content on the screen the backlight lights up more, while darker content sees the overall screen dim. In reality the screen just brightens and darkens with no real rhyme or reason, and the actually light level changing can take a while. Needless to say this "feature" is extremely distracting, so here's how to disable it.

To Change: Click on the battery icon->Adjust Power Settings->Change Plan Settings->Change advanced power settings

In this area there are a ton of options for maximizing battery life or power. Again, play with the settings that seem to fit your needs. To disable the adaptive brightness go to the "Display" tree item, and under that you'll see the "Enable Adaptive Brightness" section. I turned it to "off" for both.

4. Reduce Fan Noise

One of the things I disliked about the Envy initially was the pretty constant and sometimes loud fan levels. Compared to my friend's Macbook Pro it sounded pretty bad and quite distracting. There are two ways to modify when the fans kick in.

1) To change: In the same advanced power settings area as the Adaptive Brightness, expand the "Processor power management" section. In this area I modified the Minimum processor state to 5%, and the Maximum processor state to 20% for battery, and 100% for Plugged in. In the "System cooling policy" I set it to Passive for both. Don't worry, if/when the laptop heats up the fans will still kick in. They just aren't on ALL the time like in Active mode. This has the added benefit of increasing battery life.

2) To change (FOR ADVANCED USERS): Enter the system BIOS and in the system settings area there's an option that says "Always have fans on" just change it from "yes/enable" to "no/disable". Again, the fans still kick in when the laptop is hot, but they'll shut down when the fans aren't needed.

5. Uninstall Stardock

In an effort to look cool and unique HP uses Stardock's Windowsblinds software with a custom skin. However this has the very unfortunate side effect of disabling a lot of Windows 7's cool visual effects and styles also known as "Aero". There may be a way to get Aero to work nicely with Windowsblinds, but I'm lazy, and in general want to get rid of bloatware I just uninstalled and things look/work great now.

To change: Control Panel->Programs->Stardock Uninstall

Conclusion

The Envy itself is an incredible machine. One of the most powerful laptops you can buy while maintaining a light and stylish form factor, and absolutely killing the Macbook Pro from a price/performance ratio. There are some quirks with the machine but with these quick and easy alterations it will make you a lot happier, and probably make your Apple fanboy friends that much more jealous.

 

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