HP upgrades Envy 17 TouchSmart with Leap Motion, not much else (hands-on)

HP's new Leap Motion laptop has a built-in motion and fingerprint sensors.

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The HP Envy 17 gets Leap Motion and not much else
Watch this: The HP Envy 17 gets Leap Motion and not much else

The HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Special Edition TouchSmart is the exact same laptop as the as the Envy 17 TouchSmart, except now with a built-in Leap Motion sensor.

This HP laptop has a built-in Leap Motion sensor (pictures)

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The sensor attempts to bring true 3D motion control to your computer, allowing for some hands-free control. Although including it is a thoughtful idea in theory, we were definitely disappointed that HP didn't take the concept and run with it. There was plenty of potential here to improve on the whole Leap concept, but HP decided to simply stop at getting that back of the box check mark. It seems HP simply wanted to be first to build the promising technology into a device.

It gets that wish granted, but at the expense of something truly useful and innovative. In fact, you may be better off just buying the Leap Motion sensor. At least then you could use it on whichever computer you choose, instead of being stuck on a single device.

Where the magic happens. Josh Miller/CNET

Thankfully Leap Motion's online store, AirSpace, is included. Also included is a sharp 1,920x1,080-pixel IPS screen, HDMI, dual USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, and a full-size SD card slot.

HP was mum on what the base configuration will be, but said that buyers will have the option of including up to a 2TB hard drive, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to a Core-i7 processor. There'll also be both touch-screen and non-touch versions.

HP told us that the laptop would likely have to be plugged in at all times. This is probably thanks to the huge draw the sensor has on the battery because it's constantly checking the space above it for movement.

The built-in optical drive. Exciting, I know. Josh Miller/CNET

In our brief demo time with the device, we had to restart Leap a few times to get it to recognize our hands. Not something we've experienced with the standalone sensor. However, once working it was accurate when playing compatible games like Fruit Ninja, but still gives us a case of gorilla arms after a few minutes of use.

Look for the first laptop with embedded Leap Motion technology on October 16, starting at $1,049.

Sharon Vaknin contributed to this First Take.