No touching! We go hands-off with the HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Special Edition

With the Leap Motion controller embedded, is touch necessary, anymore? HP’s laptop with motion sensing works!

It’s been less than a decade since consumers started getting used to interacting with their computers and mobile devices with touch, yet now physical contact seems so old-fashioned. Now it’s all about touchless control and the ability to navigate your laptop with just your eyes or your hands. (Next up: mind control.) HP is eager to be on the forefront of this trend with the first consumer laptop to fully integrate Leap Motion’s gesture-based control: the HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE. Due out later this month, the new Envy will start at $1,050.

Earlier this summer we reviewed the standalone Leap Motion Controller that hooks up to any computer via USB. HP’s new laptop uses that same technology, sized to fit seamlessly into the chassis. The only outward indication that there’s something different going on with the Envy is the sensor strip to the right of the touchpad. Otherwise, it looks much like previous models. Though this is a larger Envy, HP keeps it looking slim with tapered edges. The controller does not appear to have added much, if any, bulk. Keep in mind that this is a metal laptop with a 17.3-inch display, so it’s not going to be light and ultraportable regardless. For the size, the Envy manages to be surprisingly balanced and not too heavy.

HP Envy 17 Leap Motion LE

Desktop replacements often end up hooked to extra monitors and a lot of peripherals, so controlling with gestures could enhance that experience. From our short time with the notebook, it looks like a few of the same issues we encountered with the Leap Motion controller’s precision remain, though they aren’t as prominent. The positioning issue we encountered is not as big a problem, since you can easily turn the sensor off when not needed. The new issue is that left-handed people won’t be able to comfortably use their dominant hand.

With an embedded sensor, it’s easier to see the possibilities for gesture-based control. Just lift up your hand to move the cursor or flick a webpage up or down, then go right back to typing.

Big, sweeping motion is the Leap controller’s forte. All of the apps we tried, from Fruit Ninja to Google Earth, responded really well to all five fingers and motions. But we only tried a few Leap-enabled apps, and none of them were designed to eliminate the need for a mouse or keyboard. But, so far, the signs are encouraging. Airspace, the Leap app store, comes bundled with the Envy along with HP’s usual software suite. Buyers will get five free apps to start.

HP Envy 17 Leap Motion LE

Per usual, HP will offer the Envy with a long list of options. A crucial one: touch or no touch? With the Leap Motion controller embedded, is touch necessary, anymore? Navigating Windows 8 without touch is doable, though many find it frustrating. For those touch-focused features like calling up charms or swiping between apps, will an air gesture satisfy? Without really good precision, gestures won’t help when trying to click tiny elements in Desktop mode. But aren’t people still using a mouse for that, anyway? It will be interesting to see if the inclusion of a touchless sensor makes touchscreens unnecessary.

Aside from the futuristic hand-waving control, the Envy 17 looks to be a pretty sweet laptop by itself. The keyboard is as comfortable as HP’s keyboards get with a decent feel and response to typing. The wide touchpad seemed responsive and we didn’t note any lag or jerkiness. As always, we appreciate having the speakers on the deck so the benefits of Beats Audio come though clearly. The metal chassis is sturdy and looks great, and since this is a 17.3-inch desktop replacement it is not wanting for ports.

HP Envy 17 Leap Motion LE

The laptop will be available with Intel Core i5 and Core i7 CPU options and Nvidia graphics. The base price will only get you a 1600 x 900 pixel resolution display. That’s too low for a screen that big. You should spend a little more for the full HD option, though we can’t tell you how much you should budget just yet. HP hasn’t released the full list of specs, options, or pricing beyond the base cost yet.

The HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE will be available for pre-order on October 16, starting at $1,050. We’ll keep you updated as the full specs emerge as well as a firm ship date.

Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

Here are 19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth…

The best iPhone deals for December 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for December 2018.

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?

With our Steam guide, you can give the gift of gaming this holiday season

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.

Forget painting-style transfers, this A.I. creates realistic portraits of fake people

Do these images look computer-generated? Nvidia researchers recently published a paper on a new variation on style transfer artificial intelligence that's able to generate entirely new portraits.

Leaked HP laptop listing reveals entry-level Nvidia MX250 GPU

Alongside powerful graphics cards, Nvidia may have more mobile GPUs to show off at next year's CES show in January. The MX250 has been spotted in a listing for an HP laptop, potentially replacing the entry-level MX150.

ZSpace’s laptop brings education to life with its own 3D technology

The ZSpace laptop wants to overhaul education and training by offering affordable access to 3D mixed reality through a bespoke screen and glasses technology that is already supported by a wide array of applications.

Former Microsoft intern claims Google may have sabotaged Edge browser

Google's Chrome web browser has been able to establish such dominance that Microsoft is abandoning its web rendering engine, switching Edge over to Chromium, but did Google play dirty in an attempt to force Microsoft to make the decision?

ViewSonic’s 1080p gaming monitor lets you experience the action in style

ViewSonic is catering to gamers with its latest monitor, the XG240R. Featuring a 1080p 144Hz panel, RGB lighting, and a fast 1ms response time, you can conquer your opponents and do it in style.

Here’s why you might still be using Wi-Fi after cellular 5G launches

Cellular 5G might be around the corner and promising to deliver lightning fast speeds, but the folks over at the Wi-Fi Alliance have a few reasons why they think you shouldn't dump Wi-Fi just yet.

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.

Detangle your desk with a mighty wireless mouse. Here are our six favorites

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. These six models have something for everyone, whether you're a hardcore gamer or simply looking to ward off carpal tunnel.

Canceling Amazon Prime is easy, and you might get a refund

Don't be intimidated. Learning how to cancel Amazon Prime is easier than you might think. You might even get a partial or full refund on the cost, depending on how much you've used it. Check out our quick-hit guide for doing so.