A great deal of thanks goes to the folks and participants at the Notebook Review Forums. In particular, the HP Envy 15 (3XXX series) Owners’ Lounge thread. This article is primarily a distillation of the 158+ pages written there about this and other issues, both good and bad.
There aren’t a lot of laptops with IPS screens in them, so when one comes along it’s pretty exciting. Unfortunately the IPS panel in HP’s Envy 15 will leave more red in your face than it can display. (You must get the “radiance” display upgrade to get the IPS screen.)
If IPS is a new term for you, it stands for In Plane Switching. Not all flat-panel LCD screens are created equal. There’s a wide variety of underlying technologies, all designed to solve a problem, and often that “problem” is cost.
IPS is the kind of LCD that gives you very wide viewing angles without color shifting. It’s also associated with the best color quality and widest color gamuts. It’s also expensive. For some reason, laptop manufacturers don’t think we’re willing to pay for good screens.
Sadly on the HP Envy 15, in spite of having an IPS screen, it has an embarrassingly small color gamut. The most noise has been made about its ability to reproduce red. To describe it in words, where one would expect to see ruby-red, we get tomato-red. It’s more orange than red. Or to describe it in pictures:
The above photograph illustrates the issue in a very non-scientific manner. Both screens are displaying the very same red value (255, 0, 0).
The degree to which this may bother you in day-to-day operations will vary. Typically we are not comparing the red in the Envy 15 to the red of something else, so our brains do a pretty good job of adapting and seeing red anyway. That said, if this were to be your primary color-accurate device, this would be very discouraging news.
According to Engadget, HP recently acknowledged the complaints about the red issue in the display. However the idea that HP can release a “tuning” utility is laughable. There’s simply no ruby-red in this screen’s crayon box. Suggesting that there’s a software fix for this is like suggesting that a car with no engine can be made to go with a simple firmware update. Not only that, but HP had the audacity to blame it on the screen having a higher-than-normal gamut:
HP ENVY Series notebooks use optional premium LED-backlit display panels that have a higher color gamut (range of viewable colors), brightness and viewing angles than many display panels. This means that some colors may appear differently than they do on other displays.
Recently “JJB,” a poster in the Notebook Review Forums (linked at the start,) asked about some actual color gamut chart comparisons for the Envy 15 screen. I haven’t seen any floating around the internet yet, but I’ve got the screen profiled, so why not make them? It would finally put to rest this claim by HP that they’re using a “higher color gamut” screen. I used the eval version of a tool called Gamutvision by Imatest, which can build 3D gamut comparisons from .icm profiles.
In all of these charts, the solid represents the gamut of the HP Envy 15 with the Radiance display, and the wireframe represents the gamut of the reference color space. Please forgive the “trials remaining” box. The name of the icm file for my Envy is “Generic PNP Monitor-1.icm” and the profile itself was created with a Syder3 Pro. These images are clickable for full-res versions.
First, let’s compare the Envy 15 with Radiance to AdobeRGB. AdobeRGB is a color space often used in the color professional world, and is a common benchmark for wide-gamut displays.
It’s not looking so good for HP’s wide-gamut claim. To be clear, most wide-gamut screens do not handle the entire AdobeRGB gammut, but one would expect it to at least come close in a few areas. HP misses by a mile here.
But let’s be fair. This machine isn’t marketed toward color professionals, we just got excited because of the claim of an IPS display. It’s marketed to users, and sRGB is a much more fair benchmark for this market. Certainly it at least meets the sRGB gamut?
I don’t know how else to put it other than, “oh snap!” The Envy 15’s so-called “high gamut” screen falls short in the reds, blues, and greens. Proof positive that HP is blowing smoke up our asses about the screens ability to produce more colors than usual.
Just for kicks, I decided to compare the Envy 15 to my desktop display, a Dell WFP 3007-HC.
I’m ashamed for you HP. You definitely should not be claiming this is a high-gamut screen.
Just for one final point of reference, here’s how a true wide-gamut screen compares to AdobeRGB. The solid is my Dell WFP-3007-HC, and the wireframe is AdobeRGB.
So what’s the take-home lesson?
In terms of brightness and viewing angles, HP has a nice display in this machine. But in terms of it being a “high gamut” screen, HP is simply lying. If you feel HP has been disingenuous and should be reprimanded, you can take your complaints to:
What do you think? Does this bother you enough to return it and jump ship? Share your comments below!