HP Envy Curved All-in-One 34 review

HP blends retro midcentury design with modern technology in this all-in-one PC

HP Envy Curved All-in-One 34

“HP has masterfully blended mid-century design and modern technology into its all-in-one desktop.”
  • Stunning mid-century inspired design
  • Gorgeous, ultrawide screen
  • Excellent audio tuning with integrated B&O soundbar
  • User upgradeable design provides access to memory and storage
  • Limited gaming performance
  • No Thunderbolt 3 support

Whereas most all-in-one desktops — like Dell’s XPS 27 and Inspiron 27 7000 All-in-One, HP’s $699 Pavilion All-in-One 24, Lenovo’s $999 IdeaCentre AIO 730S, and Acer’s $1.030 enterprise-focused Veriton Z — riff on Apple’s iconic all-in-one iMac by stuffing the PC parts behind a large screen to conserve desk space, HP literally ripped apart the mold and forged its own design destiny when it crafted its gorgeous 34-inch Envy Curve AIO 34. Borrowing liberally from American mid-century modern designers, like George Nelson of Herman Miller fame, HP masterfully created an entertainment center for your humble desk by separating the PC components into a base and suspending the immersive and dazzling 34-inch display in mid-air.

Standing in stark contrast to the iMac’s utilitarian and cold metal design, this year’s model comes with wood paneling details and gold-trimmed accents, thoughtful refinements that help the $1,699 Envy Curved AIO 34 pay closer homage to its mid-century aesthetics. Together, these details not only make for a luxurious desktop without having to resort to marketing terms — like machined unibody aluminum — but help HP transform the PC from a clunky tool for Office tasks into a statement piece that will invite conversation in your office.

An entertainment center for your desk

You’d be forgiven if you mistook the Envy Curved All-in-One 34 for a compact television designed by HP’s upmarket Scandinavian audio partner Bang & Olufsen, which coincidentally also provides the tuning for the excellent built-in speakers on this desktop. Even though it’s largely constructed from plastic — compared to the unibody aluminum shell on the iMac — the Envy Curved 34 still manages to look and feel premium, thanks to a sturdy base that’s cloaked in a faux woodgrain finish and metal accents. Given that the Envy 13 laptop is partially cloaked in real wood, it’d be interesting to see if HP can use more natural materials on a future version of its AIO desktop.

This year’s Envy Curved 34 shares in its immediate predecessor’s two-piece design, allowing HP to separate the PC component that’s traditionally hidden behind the display on most AIOs to an elongated rectangular base that’s almost as wide as the immersive 34-inch panel. The result is that the PC base resembles a media center, while the screen, attached to a metal arm, appears as though it’s suspended in the air like a modern flat-screen television.

Rather than shrink the PC base, like what Microsoft did with the Surface Studio 2, the large base is as much a design focal point as the gigantic screen, occupying a 7 7/8 x 23 5/8-inch footprint on your desk. Here, HP has masterfully blended mid-century design — complete with a dark woodgrain finish that can pass for exotic African Blackwood — and modern technology into its AIO, and this desktop will feel just as natural in a C-suite as it would on the desk of legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames from that era.

You’d be forgiven if you mistook the Envy Curved All-in-One 34 for a compact television designed by HP’s upmarket Scandinavian audio partner Bang & Olufsen.

In front, fabric covering the quad-speaker soundbar that spans the entire width of the PC’s base helps to give the Envy AIO warmth and makes this PC appear more inviting, especially when compared to the cold all-metal iMac design. Plastic plates, coated in a subtle hue of champagne gold with a satin finish complete the look and adds to the upmarket prestige of HP’s desktop design. The accents are also found on the display stand and on the included wireless keyboard and mouse, making the whole experience very cohesive.

Living up to its comparisons with a home media center, the Envy Curved 34 is flanked on the front by a massive quad-speaker soundbar that spans the entire width of the PC’s base, delivering an immersive and clear audio experience. The soundbar is covered in a speckled dark gray fabric. Combined with the wood finish, the choice of natural-looking materials makes the Envy Curved AIO feel warmer and inviting, making it a good fit for offices, homes, or reception areas.

To maintain its clean aesthetics, HP hid the webcam in a module that can pop out if you need to do a video call. By giving you the option to stow away the webcam when you’re not using it, the Envy AIO is able to keep its sleek look with very minimal side bezels while also providing you with more privacy.

Curve your enthusiasm

While the base gives this desktop its premium aesthetics, the star of the show is the gorgeous 34-inch ultra-wide and curved display. Not only is the massive screen a spectacular sight to behold, but the curvature helps to break up some of the harsher straight edges from the desktop’s overall design and makes the content on the display more immersive.

When tested with Datacolor’s Spyder5 Elite screen calibration tool, the panel was able to reproduce 100 percent of the sRGB and 78 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. Contrast and color gamut on the display are both excellent, and color accuracy is rated as very good when tested. Additionally, the ultra-wide panel makes it easy to have multiple windows opened in a side-by-side arrangement, so you don’t have to hunt for windows that may have been obscured as more applications get launched throughout the day.

The immediate downside is that despite its size, the Envy Curved AIO’s 34-inch screen is capped at a UWQHD resolution, supporting 3,400 x 1,400 pixels. We wish a 4K or better ultra-wide display option was available, but that would have added to the cost. Given the GPU configuration, you likely won’t be pushing the pixels here, and gaming likely should be limited to 1080p resolution for the best performance, so the scaled-down resolution is less problematic than it seems.

HP Envy Curved 34
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

If you’re picking up this system to watch videos, you’ll have to either zoom in or stretch the video to fill the display, which either results in loss of quality or distorted frames. A third option is to view images and videos in their native formats, but you’ll end up with letterboxing, with black boxes on both sides of the frame.

Sophisticated amenities

In terms of ergonomics, the IPS panel can be tilted upwards and downwards, but like most other AIOs, the screen cannot be raised or lowered, nor can it swivel for more comfortable viewing angles. These limitations will likely mean that the Envy AIO will need to be placed front and center on your desk, as you cannot place it off to the side and rotate the display as you would with a standalone monitor. However, given the Envy Curved AIO 34’s handsome aesthetics, it really does deserve its spot in the middle of your desk, however.

But the Envy AIO isn’t just about computing. Along with an HDMI output port on the rear to connect a second display for an even more immersive experience, there’s also an HDMI input port. The video input port will allow you to plug in a media streaming stick or a game console and utilize the 34-inch panel for non-computing tasks. You’ll have to hit a button the rear to switch to the video input feed, but this is a useful feature for cramped spaces, like dorm rooms, as you won’t need a separate HDTV to connect to a game console.

It should be noted that neither touch nor pen input is supported on the Envy Curved AIO 34’s display. If you need a touchscreen, you’ll want to step down to HP’s $1,199 Envy AIO 27, which shares the same design as the curved 34 model, but comes with a flat 27-inch QHD display that supports touch. Another upgrade that this variant provides is that it can be configured with a more modern Intel 9th-Gen Core i7-9700T processor for a premium.

Given that the latest crop of Apple’s iPhone and Android smartphones come with support for wireless charging, it is starting to feel archaic when you have to reach for a cable to top off during the middle of a workday. If you’re fortunate enough to own the Envy Curved AIO 34, this PC comes with a Qi wireless charging pad built into the left-hand side of the base. Not only does this free your desk from unsightly charging cables, but it also makes it more convenient to grab your phone and run to your next meeting without having to yank the power cord out.

On the right-hand side of the base opposite to the wireless charging pad is an iPod-inspired scroll wheel designed for volume control. Though you can adjust the volume in software on Windows 10 and by using the function buttons on the included keyboard, having the dedicated scroll wheel makes it quick and convenient. The feature also elevates this PC’s purpose as a tool for media consumption, a natural fit given how crisp audio sounds with a fair amount of left- and right-channel speaker isolation on the B&O-tuned soundbar.

Ports are aplenty on the Envy Curved AIO 34, so you should be able to readily plug in any peripherals or accessories you need. In addition to the pair of HDMI ports on the rear – one for video input and the second for video output — you’ll also find four USB-A ports, an Ethernet jack, and a locking port, should this desktop be used in an office or workroom. These ports are more suited for more permanent accessories, like external drives and printers, as the rear placement makes it awkward to try to reach given the larger overall stature of the Envy Curved AIO 34 and the fact that the display doesn’t swivel. If you’re trying to plug in a flash drive quickly into the rear, you’re really doing it blindly just by feel.

Fortunately, on this latest generation, the power button has been relocated from the rear of the prior model to the right champagne gold-toned side panel towards the rear. Though the placement makes the power button easier to reach, the skinny shape and the way it sits flush with the side panel still makes it harder to locate by feel alone. On the side, accompanying the power button, is a USB-C port, another USB-A port, memory card slot, and combo audio jack. If you rely on swapping multiple flash drives, external drives, or connecting other accessories, you may want to invest in a USB-C hub to make port accessibility easier and not because you’re short on ports.

Under the hood

This year, the Envy Curved AIO 34 is powered by Intel’s 8th-gen processors. The entry-level Envy Curved AIO 34 features a Core i5-8400T processor, while our upgraded $1,699 review unit ships with a better Core i7-8700T silicon featuring six cores clocked at 2.4 GHz. This should provide plenty of power for common computing tasks, including web browsing with multiple tabs opened, handling moderate photo editing, and multitasking with Microsoft Office apps.

This desktop will feel just as natural in a C-suite as it would on the desk of a legendary designer.

Though the Envy Curved AIO 34 shares a similar 8th-gen processor to HP’s Omen Obelisk, the AIO uses a lower 35-watt Intel silicon compared to the 65-watt supported by the gaming system, and this shows in the performance. The Envy AIO’s single-core and multi-core results, when benchmarked with the Geekbench 4 tool, was slightly less than that of the Omen Obelisk, and both PCs trailed behind high-end systems with newer 9th-gen Intel processors. The stronger multi-core score on the Origin PC Neuron, which ships with the 9th-gen Core i9-9900K CPU suggests that the newer processors will be better suited for multi-threaded workflows and handling larger graphics and rendering files.

Still, don’t let the weaker scores suggest that the Envy AIO is a slouch. On the contrary, most users won’t notice any slowdowns. Apps quickly launched and our Office files opened without any hesitation. Where the performance difference shows is with media rendering, and the 8th-gen silicon was slower in our Handbrake 4K video encoding test than its newer counterpart, requiring 127 seconds compared to the 82 seconds required by the Origin PC Chronos, which comes equipped with an Intel Core i9-9900K. For most office or home computing tasks, the Envy AIO was more than able to keep up.

Our upgraded review unit features 16GB of RAM and a speedy Samsung 256GB NVMe M.2 format solid-state drive as well as a secondary 2TB hard drive for additional storage.

While the SSD was speedy, we wished HP offered a 512GB option, as the companion SATA hard drive tops out at 5,400 RPM, making data access a bit slow compared faster 7,200 RPM drives. Fortunately, though, you can upgrade the memory and storage rather easily. HP provides some instructional videos on removing the bottom plate on the base of the Envy Curved AIO 34, which will give you access to the two M.2 slots, allowing users to either add a second SSD or replace the existing drive in the event of a malfunction.

Not a gaming machine

Gamers may be drawn to the Envy Curved AIO 34 due to its massive and integrated display, but this PC isn’t designed for heavy gaming. Despite the screen being the star of the show on the Envy AIO, the limited performance of the supplied graphics will hold back this desktop from appealing to a wider audience — including creatives and enthusiasts. Though this year’s model benefits from a more capable discrete GPU — moving from a GTX 950M from its predecessor to more powerful GTX 1050 graphics — it is still no match for more capable gaming desktops equipped with Nvidia’s high-end RTX 2080 graphics card. However, the inclusion of discrete GTX 1050 graphics here helps to ensure that the Envy AIO can be used for casual 1080p and light creative work, and the supplied GPU helps the Envy AIO match the performance on competing systems, like Dell’s Inspiron 27 7000 AIO and beat the integrated UHD Graphics 620 on Lenovo’s AIO 730S.

Using Underwriter Laboratories’ 3D Mark Time Spy graphics test, the GTX 1050 card clocked in at 2,955 points. This performance places it behind the GTX 1070 card on Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2, which scored 5,215 points. Compared to the RTX 2080’s 9,240 points, the Envy AIO’s graphic performance is about one-third of the HP Omen Obelisk.

The synthetic benchmark results illustrate a good picture of what gamers can expect with the GTX 1050 graphics on modern titles. Games with lighter graphics demand, like Fortnite, won’t have any problems, with frame rates consistently well above 60 FPS, even under “Epic” game settings and at higher 2K resolutions. Though the Envy AIO’s 68 FPS when played in 1440p resolution and with Epic mode enabled is just shy of half the 131 FPS performance of the RTX 2080 graphics on the Origin PC Neuron, the game performed well, and we didn’t notice any stuttering or choppiness.

Games with more demanding graphics, like Battlefield V, Civilization VI, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey performed fine at lower 1080p resolutions but dropped frames became very noticeable in 1440p, especially at higher game settings. Likely, you’ll want to either tune down the game details or use a lower resolution to get more reliable performance on the GTX 1050.

HP Envy Curved 34
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Battlefield V and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, two of the most GPU taxing titles that we test, performed at under the desired 60 FPS even at 1080p resolution. While the Envy AIO’s 55 FPS performance at 1080p under medium settings was very playable in Battlefield V, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was less forgiving, and there was a considerable amount of lag despite the 49 FPS performance at 1080p resolution under high settings.

With higher game settings and higher resolutions, performance quickly dropped off, and Assassin’s Creed played at just 33 FPS on 1440p with ultra settings. With Nvidia’s flagship RTX 2080 Ti graphics, the Origin Neuron delivered roughly double the performance with the same settings at 77 FPS.

The performance margin between the RTX 2080 Ti and the GTX 1050 becomes more apparent when playing Civilization VI. Though the title’s less demanding graphics requirement makes it playable through the highest setting we tested, which is ultra at 1440p, the frame rate performance of the GTX card is roughly just one-third that of the RTX 2080 Ti on the Neuron.

Whereas the Neuron performed at 142 FPS, the Envy AIO only delivered 44 FPS here. Despite the lower performance in frame rate, the game was playable with only occasional choppiness. At 1080p with medium details, the Envy AIO had no problem keeping up, delivering 56 FPS, and the performance suggests that casual gamers will be able to play most titles without any noticeable performance hits at 1080p resolution.

Creatives working with larger media files will want to look at systems with stronger graphics potential, like Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2, which can be configured with better GTX 1070 graphics and come with a touchscreen that supports digital inking.

Warranty

For consumer PCs, HP offers a standard one-year limited hardware policy, and this applies the Envy Curved AIO 34. HP also offers 90 days of phone support and complimentary chat support during the warranty period should any issues occur. As with all PCs HP sells, you can also upgrade to an extended warranty with the purchase of the Envy AIO. An extended two-year warranty that includes accidental damage protection adds $399 to the cost of your purchase.

HP also offers a three-year extended warranty for the same price, though this option doesn’t include coverage for accidental damage. If you’re not too clumsy, the three-year plan without accidental protection is a great deal, considering HP offers a 100% money-back rebate if you don’t make any repair claims during the coverage period.

Though HP’s extended coverage is similar to the optional policies that some of its largest rivals in the PC industry offer, the plans are on the pricier side. Lenovo offers its three-year extended warranty coverage with on-site support if issues can’t be resolved over the phone for just $63 if you purchase the IdeaCentre AIO 730S, making the extended coverage more affordable. Rival Dell offers an even longer four-year warranty option that covers hardware and software support as well as accidental damage coverage. If you’re not too savvy with your PC, Dell also offers an optional home PC setup option to help you get started.

Our Take

There are plenty of space-saving all-in-one desktops to choose from — and many match the performance of this $1,699 desktop — but none come with a brilliantly large ultra-wide curved display that will — for better or worse — immerse you into your spreadsheets, PDFs, and Office documents at work.

Given that most solid ultra-wide curved monitors in the same screen size retail for around $700 — like Samsung’s $750 CF791 or Alienware’s comparably sized gaming screen retails for $850 — breaking down the HP Envy Curved AIO from its 34-inch panel means that the PC costs only $1,000. This is an apt analogy, given that you can use the HDMI input port to connect an Xbox to HP’s AIO, making this a versatile desktop setup for work and play for those with limited space. The Envy Curved AIO 34 stands out from the crowd with its unrivaled design.

Is there a better alternative?

If you don’t care about the massive 34-inch UWQHD display or HP’s mid-century modern inspired aesthetics, there are plenty of AIOs on the market that deliver similar performance as the Envy Curved AIO 34. Dell’s Inspiron 27 7000 series starts at a more budget-friendly $881, but you’ll have to upgrade to the $1,322 to get similar performance as our HP review unit with an Intel Core i7-8700T processor and Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics. While you’re sacrificing screen real estate — moving from a 34-inch ultra-wide display to a 27-inch FHD panel, you’ll also gain touch capabilities. HP’s smaller Envy AIO 27-inch is another good option starting at $1,199.

If you’re comfortable leaving the Windows 10 ecosystem for MacOS, the iMac is a great desktop with a color-accurate display supporting a wide DCI P3 color gamut. In its larger configuration, the 27-inch iMac is probably the closest competitor to HP’s smaller Envy AIO, the Envy AIO 27, which comes with a non-curved display. Whereas Apple has HP beat on resolution — the iMac goes up to an eye-popping Retina 5K display — both models start with an 8th-Gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and discrete graphics support, making it a more straightforward Apple-to-PC comparison.

How long will it last?

The Envy Curved AIO 34’s discrete graphics support and upgradeability will help it last for at least a few years. Its handsome design, modern processor, and breathtaking ultra-wide display make it a useful and functional piece of technological artwork for your desk.

Should you buy it?

Yes. With a stunning design and brilliant display, HP has created a statement-making desktop PC that is unrivaled.

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