HP Envy Curved 34, review: an impressive team with a price that scares
Ultra-wide monitors have been surprising us for some time by format and performance, and now there is a manufacturer that has taken advantage of the concept to offer an All-in-One that also stands out for its curved screen design.
The HP Envy Curved 34 is a team that surprises from the first moment for these dimensions and that design, and we have had the opportunity to study it in detail. Does ultra-wide All-in-One make sense? This is what we reveal in our analysis.
A stunning design
It's hard not to be drawn to the ultra-wide, curved design of the HP display: Outwardly the finish is spectacular, with two large bands of speakers flanking the display - making it even longer - and a contrasting black front frame. with the back in which pearl white dominates.
It is not an ultrathin monitor, but of course, it is not just a monitor: the HP All-in-One integrates various components inside that make its thickness, especially in the central part of that curve, remarkable, But those lines make the team look impressive even with that handicap.
There are a few highlights of that design, such as the ability to tilt the screen slightly to adjust the viewing angle. This balances the fact that the screen, at least in our first impressions, is located at a somewhat low height.
That forces us to look down on some occasions, something that would be solved with a height regulation that unfortunately we do not have. The solution, of course, is to place this screen on an additional support on the table to be able to adjust the height at which we "face" the screen.
The design also offers some contentious decisions: Placing the headphone port at the bottom of the screen is probably a wise move, but doing the same with the card reader or two additional USB 3.0 ports is more contentious. In fact we would have wanted these ports to be located on one of the sides, but at HP they have preferred to take advantage of that lower edge -where we will also find the monitor controls- and of course the back of the screen.
It is there that we will find the Gigabit Ethernet port flanked by USB ports (2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0), and a pleasant surprise: the fact that in addition to the HDMI output port - in case we wanted to connect an external monitor - we also have a HDMI input port to take advantage of the screen to connect other video sources.
That function is very interesting, although we would also like to have a DisplayPort port as well, an increasingly accepted standard in the industry and that would have been the perfect complement to make this double function of the equipment fully effective as a monitor for any of our devices.
HP Envy Curved 34 Specifications
The offer of HP of course stands out for that curved screen with that diagonal, but in the bet of this manufacturer it is necessary to take into account the set of a solution that must perform adequately. What kind of components are we in a team with these characteristics? This is what we wanted to detail below with the help of this table:
NVIDIA GTX 960A (2GB DDR5)
Intel RealSense 3D Camera
The outstanding feature of this equipment is without a doubt its 34-inch IPS screen with that resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels and that ultra-panoramic 21: 9 format. Those responsible for HP indicate that this screen -care, it is not touch, that would be noteworthy- offers 99% of the sRGB color gamut and also has Technicolor certification, which theoretically guarantees that you will see the colors in the same way in which they were originally conceived for the content displayed on the screen.
Those dimensions allow us to have space to integrate components with some freedom, but like any other All-in-One worth its salt, we find ourselves before a laptop enclosed in a monitor. That begins by noticing in the processor, an Intel Core i7-6700T with a TDP of 35W that clearly guides it to this type of machine, but there are many more indications that make us assume that we are not facing a desktop computer in use, but more well before a powerful laptop.
The most relevant is probably the one that affects graphic capacity. That screen resolution is governed by two chips: the first, the GPU that integrates the Intel SoC. That is: an Intel HD Graphics 530 that is certainly valid for working and enjoying multimedia content, but that will fall short in demanding games. Precisely at your aid comes the option integrated by HP in the equipment we have tested: an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960A, a special version of that model for this particular OEM that allowed us to enjoy decent performance although not suitable for demanding gamers.
The storage section is solved correctly thanks to the inclusion of a 128 GB SSD that allows the system and applications to launch and run smoothly and smoothly. In case we need more space, HP also integrates a 1 TB hard drive that surprised us for not being as oriented to the laptop sector as we thought (7,200 RPM stands out in this 2.5-inch unit with SATA600 interface). The SSD (a Samsung MZHPV128HDGM PCIe in M.2 format) saves the papers if we need brutal transfer speeds, while if we need capacity there we have the HGST drive, a subsidiary of Western Digital.
Two downsides here: the first, that HP has decided not to make it easy for users to "touch" the computer on their own and make their own modifications, so any component update is complex unless you have experience and the right tools . The second, that contrary to what happens with its curved monitor -HP Envy 34c, which is only a screen- we will not be able to access a PiP (Picture-in-Picture) mode with which to be able to display two video inputs simultaneously on split screen.
Work at 34 inches: little windows to me
The fundamental advantage of having a team with this working resolution is that we will have a really wide area in which we can distribute our windows. The combinations here are numerous, and the split screen mode almost falls short with that screen diagonal.
In fact we prefer to use the screen to thirds or sixths: it is a pity that HP does not provide a specific utility to take full advantage of that orientation. The team screams for some kind of tiling window manager, very typical in Linux distributions, but here we have comfortable solutions at our fingertips.
This is the case of WinSplit Revolution, which allows you to easily locate screens in different proportions and locations, and thus make the most of that workspace.Those 3,440 x 1,440 pixels go a long way, and it is a pleasure to be able to place windows to thirds for different contents or even divide some of those fractions in half to have a configuration with several windows in which we can enjoy their content at all times. No problem.
Enjoying and playing in 21: 9 is another dimension
What is a reality for all kinds of applications is not so much for video: today there are few contents that take advantage of 21: 9 content natively. On YouTube, for example, it is possible to find trailers and some videos in this format, but they are the least.
Here it is evident that the norm is the "conventional" panoramic format with a 16: 9 that causes at least black bands to appear on the sides of the reproduced content, something that blurs that reproduction a bit. Although there are browser extensions that resize those videos and adjust the aspect ratios (Netflix Ultrawide Display Support and Black Bars Begone are two examples for Chrome), this operation is usually done at the cost of cutting the resolution of the video or some of the areas in which content is displayed.
For content that comes from other sources this problem can also occur, although there are players that scale and adjust these videos appropriately. The abandoned ArcSoft Total Media Theater is one of the most popular among users of monitors of this format due to its good adjustment of content to the 21: 9 format, although some people go to other players.
A good example is VLC with which you can try to force the aspect ratio or end up cropping (and not zooming) the image to avoid annoying black bars. The tips when trying to get the most out of these video contents are varied, so here it is about finding the combination that each user likes the most. For example, we tested with the options of the Open Source MPC-HC player and managed to adjust those contents without too many problems, achieving a fantastic result.
Is HP not including any option to facilitate this task? Yes, it does: the team comes with an evaluation version of Cyberlink PowerDirector, with which we can, for example, zoom in on the video - losing information, logically - in order to reproduce those contents without black bands. Even the native Windows player may help in that task.
In this video reproduction, it is true that we have the help of that powerful system of 6 front speakers (4 in the case of the 23.8 and 27-inch models) developed by Bang & Olufsen and which sound very decent in various situations. In our tests with different video and audio contents, we were able to enjoy a remarkable sound quality that benefits once again from the dimensions of this equipment and above all from the aforementioned sidebands exclusively dedicated to this facet.
The presence of black bands not only occurs in video content, but also in games, although fortunately in a much less pronounced way. In relatively recent titles these 21: 9 modes are likely to be natively supported, but for those who give the odd problem there are potential solutions.
As explained in PCMonitors, many modern games take advantage of the so-called Hor +, a mode that allows you to scale the field of view (Field of View or FOV) to adapt it to those ultra-panoramic resolutions and thus enjoy these titles as they should be: more information is displayed horizontally, and the same information vertically.
In others it is the developers who can support these resolutions through patches that correct these errors, but even in the absence of patches we can always try solutions such as those mentioned in PC Gamer: systems such as Flawless Widescreen or Windows Borderless Gaming allow precisely taking advantage of those games to full screen without loss of resolution or quality, simply taking advantage of that extra area that, yes, will impose an additional load on the equipment.
What is evident is that the result is worth it, with a more immersive experience that gains even more integers thanks to the curvature of this screen. There is a reference forum on this topic, WideScreen Gaming Forum, which can answer your questions in this regard.
The graphic power of the equipment is remarkable but not exceptional for these cases, so enjoying a high level of detail with these resolutions in demanding games will be rather difficult. We tried a couple of titles -'Dirt Rally 'and' Crysis'- and checked how to enjoy these games with good quality -but not at the highest level of detail- on this screen it was a real joy.
No surprises in performance
When trying to evaluate the performance of this equipment, we faced, as usual, the doubts of whether to take desktop or desktop computers as a reference.
In reality, the All-in-Ones are, as we said, closer to being portable than to desktop because of the narrowness to which they are subjected, so we have tried to put that performance in a situation comparing it with some models that could establish a good framework of reference.
Here the results have been very decent although expected for a team that despite being able to be considered a laptop due to the choice of components, is one of the highest flights. That processor and that dedicated graphics help a lot except in one of the tests, 3DMark Ice Storm, which inexplicably gave a value below what was expected.
These synthetic tests were joined by the ones we carried out on the storage units. Here was the difference between the SSD, which according to CrystalDiskMark achieved 1,986 and 436.4 MB / s in sequential reading and writing respectively, and the 1 TB hard drive, with which we obtained 144.3 and 137.7 MB / s respectively in the same tests. The difference is clear, especially in readings.
Here it is necessary to mention a section that is also important for many users: the noise level generated by the HP Envy Curved 34 is normally very low, but things change if we enjoy a game or take advantage of working with a demanding application. In these cases the ventilation of the equipment comes into action in a sensitive way and a buzz appears that without being unbearable, it can be somewhat annoying.
Peripherals and software
On the front of the screen we find the Intel RealSense3D camera with a 2-Pixel sensor that the manufacturer says is capable of recording videos at 1080p. This camera is the one that makes identification possible through Windows Hello, the biometric authentication system that allows authenticating the session through facial recognition, without the need for passwords. This type of system makes a lot of sense in this equipment that we always use with that camera "looking at our faces", and it saves us the traditional method of authentication based on username and password.
It is also necessary to mention the presence of a wireless keyboard and mouse that are included along with the small USB key that serves as a wireless receiver for these devices.
The mouse is acceptable, but the keyboard somewhat detracts from the whole. Here HP has wanted to offer an arrangement too compact and without spaces to save size, when it is assumed that this is a desktop computer that certainly does not skimp on its screen diagonal. If you already had a mouse and keyboard of your liking, it is likely that you prefer to keep using it before using the ones provided by HP.
This team is governed by the 64-bit edition of Windows 10 Home, and although we will not be able to use the touch support of this operating system -as we said the screen is prodigious, but it does not go so far- we have been able to verify how the support The team's work resolution is perfect.
In that software offer there are some HP's own utilities. One of the most outstanding is HP My Display, which allows you to configure basic monitor parameters such as the working mode -default, 'technicolor', text and games-, brightness, contrast and volume or set the white point (sRGB, Hot and fresh).
It is a basic utility and with a somewhat rough interface that nevertheless allows easy access to these default modes. We are missing, of course, some way to save custom settings and access finer control of monitor options, but it is certainly useful for those basic parameters.
Beyond that we have HP Lounge, the manufacturer's own alternative to Spotify, or HP Recovery Manager, with which we can install drivers, reset the system or create recovery media, among other things.
Unfortunately we also found some bloatware, for example present through the TripAdvisor application, games like Candy Crush Soda Saga or links with advertising tiles in the start menu (Booking.com).
We also have the evaluation version of the McAfee LifeSafe antivirus suite, a classic among many manufacturers that continue to reach agreements with this and other developers of security solutions that users simply do not ask for. Nothing particularly serious, but confirming that this trend continues to be one of the ills of the industry.
HP Envy Curved 34, the opinion and note of Xataka
What is one looking for on an ultra-wide screen? Typically, you want to take advantage of that resolution and those dimensions both when working and when enjoying content and, of course, playing.
The HP Envy Curved 34 exceeds in two of those three scenarios. The work area gives a huge margin to (try) to be more productive, and of course that format helps video content - especially those with native 21: 9 format, which are not many - shine in their own light.
Things get more complicated in the field of games. Dedicated graphics helps, but not in demanding titles that will test the GPU at these resolutions. At this point it is difficult to recommend this equipment, and in our opinion it is more advisable to buy an ultra-wide screen that is only a screen (or bet on a multi-monitor configuration) and connect it to a PC prepared for those scenarios.
In the rest of the scenarios we will have a valuable ally in all kinds of tasks, although the HP Envy Curved 34 is conditioned by one factor: its high price. The buts to the team are the usual ones of this format, which ends up offering us the power of a portable team and a single clear advantage: saving space.
Some users may have this as an absolute priority, but in our opinion, the fundamental benefit of this type of equipment also becomes their burden. That spectacularity that he presumes must have had a price, but in our opinion this is too high in the final equation.
The computer has been released for testing by HP. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises