CNET First Look
HP Envy 17 3DHP's upscale-feeling Envy 17 offers great hardware at a decent price, but its 3D implementation isn't as good as that of laptops with Nvidia's 3D Vision.
I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here taking a look at the HP Envy 17 3D edition. Now, if this thing looks familiar, that is because it is basically the HP Envy 17 which is one of our favorite desktop replacement laptops. It packs a lot of really cool hardware into a reasonably priced, it's, you know, under $1500 shell. This new version adds 3D capabilities. It's got a 3D mirror built in. It's got a 3D-compatible display and it comes with a pair of active shutter 3D glasses. Now, unlike a lot of other 3D laptops that we've seen, I mean there are a handful, maybe not a lot of other ones, this one does not use Nvidia's 3D Vision platform which is a package of hardware and software Nvidia puts together, that's their glasses, their software, and they put it all kind of in one sort of ecosystem for you. This system uses glasses from Xpand which is a maker of active shutter 3D glasses and software from a company called TriDef. We've seen this TriDef software before on laptops that used passive glasses for their 3D. Those have not been very impressive so far. In this 3D version of the HP Envy 17, you know, the 3D glasses actually work fine. The concept behind it is sound but that TriDef software still not really ready for prime time especially if you're paying $1599 for the 3D version of this laptop, that's about $300 more than the non-3D version. For example, if you wanna play a game on here, well, you can't just launch the game and play it in 3D like you can with an Nvidia 3D Vision system. You have to launch this TriDef wrapper app and that will actually scan your hard drive for game files and include them in the wrapper. Usually it doesn't see them. You usually have to find them manually and then install them and then you can run the game through there. It's a cumbersome process and when you actually play the game, in 3D mode, it cuts the frame rates about in half compared to what you get just playing it in regular 2D mode. We actually couldn't get this system to play 3D Blu-rays out of the gate, using either the TriDef software or HP's built-in media player software. We tried some basic troubleshooting, maybe if we tinkered around more, we can figure it out but we just downloaded CyberLink PowerDVD and that worked fine but, again, it was another extra step to go through and, of course, the actual TriDef hub over here, not the most awe inspiring software opening we've ever seen. As far as consumer software goes, that is just plain ugly. So if you love the HP 17, which we kinda do, and you just absolutely need to have 3D with it, well, then, this is pretty much your only option here. If you love the HP 17 and can live without the 3D, then I would recommend saving $300 and getting the regular non-3D version. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the HP Envy 17 3D.