The full HD display on the Envy 17 3D is definitely one of the highlights of the machine. The ultra bright panel and wide viewing angles make for glorious movie watching, and while you will notice some reflections on the glossy panel, with the lights off or the 3D glasses on, they all but disappear.
3D is provided via AMD Radeon’s preferred third party software DDD (Dynamic Digital Depth) TriDef 3D. We saw this technology previously in our Samsung 700G7A review and were impressed by the depth of the stereoscopic effect and the crisp image quality. The Envy 17 3D was no different, with our test movie, a 3D Blu-ray Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, providing an excellent visual experience with no ghosting issues or video lag.
HP supplies their own 3D Active Shutter glasses with the Envy 17 3D. A soft, suede, carrying pouch is also included. The glasses themselves felt a bit bulky, and reminded us of the protective lab goggles we wore in chemistry classes in our school days but, having said that, they do sit comfortably, and seemed especially well fitted for those wearing glasses. One thing you may or may not like is that the glasses are powered by a small watch battery, without any option for USB recharging. On the one hand, this means they last longer and you won’t need to recharge them after every movie; but on the other hand, be prepared to keep some spare batteries around when they inevitably run out of juice halfway through your movie.
To complement the visual experience, HP has loaded the Envy 17 3D with two front facing speakers and a Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer for some booming audio. Bass lovers will definitely appreciate the sound here; the low frequencies were well reproduced, and this is certainly one of the better notebook subwoofers we've heard.
If you're somewhere where you can't crank up the volume, plug in some good quality headphones and make the most of HP’s collaboration with Beats. According to HP, “the audio driver has been tuned to get better sound reproduction out of the audio jack and is shielded to reduce interference.” Now, we’re normally skeptical of 'waffly' marketing gimmicks like this, but honestly, using our Audio-Technica ES-7 headphones (which aren’t even audiophile quality), we did notice some improvements compared against other audio players. Again, low-end frequencies seemed particularly crisp.