So I like a lot of things about my HP Envy 14. There are a lot of positive reviews that agree with my sentiment. One thing that is annoying to me however is the available display output ports on the laptop.
The laptop only has a mini-displayport and hdmi outputs to connect to an external screen. Not having a VGA port is unusual for most computers (save for macs) and is usually not too much of a problem if you have a need to connect to a projector or an external monitor. Most monitors I have seen usually will only have VGA ports, or additionally DVI. HDMI is also fairly common, but displayport is still uncommon. If you’re looking at a projector, you most likely only have the option of VGA right now. In the cases where the monitor/projector you’re trying to connect to does not have a displayport or HDMI connection, you can easily get an adapter to get the right connection. Or so you would think.
Going from HDMI to DVI or VGA is no problem with the Envy 14, but trying to use the mini-displayport connection can be a problem. In cases when you need to connect to VGA, your options are an HDMI to VGA adaptor, or a mini-displayport to VGA adapter. One issue is, it’s hard to find an HDMI to VGA adapter. HP sells one but it is way overpriced. It is usually $40 plus shipping (although there seems to be a sale right now with $10 off and free shipping). This seems to be an option that works but a little pricey.
With the prevalence of mini-displayports on macbooks and macbook pros, there is an abundance of mini-displayport to VGA adapters. These are much easier to find and can come by much cheaper as well. The problem is, it seems nearly impossible to find one that works with the Envy 14.
There have been many documented cases with people having issues with the mini-displayport to VGA adapters. To mirror other people’s sentiments, I have tried the Apple adapter, a generic adapter, and even official AMD Eyefinity approved active adapters and none of them work. None of them even detect the external monitor when using the ATI graphics card. You would think that an active adapter approved by AMD/ATI would work with their graphics card but there seems to be issues with the displayport connection, either related to the hardware or the BIOS. Since HP doesn’t push out updates to their BIOS or the graphics card drivers for the Envy 14 very frequently, it looks like a software fix to the problem will not happen.
Luckily, one crafty user has found an unlikely working adapter for the Envy 14. It’s a Dynex brand DX-AP180 adapter. Dynex seems to be a Best Buy brand, but apparently Best Buy doesn’t carry the adapter anymore. You can usually find it pretty easily on Amazon or eBay.
The first adapter I ordered from Amazon seemed to be defective. When I connected it to my monitor, it recognized the monitor but there was an error in the Catalyst Control Center that basically said my cable doesn’t support the resolution. I returned that one and got a new one and that one detected the monitor and actually displayed my screen.
I’m not sure if it was an issue with my monitor’s drivers or just the connection but the screen flickered a little bit and was not as bright as normal. The important part though was that it worked. I also only saw the standard 4:3 resolutions, even with the correct monitor drivers. This wasn’t optimal for my monitor but I was able to switch to a 4:3 resolution on my monitor and effectively cut off some of the width. This should work in a pinch for projectors since most projectors have 4:3 resolutions anyways.
Not completely satisfied with these results, I got an HDMI to DVI adapter and now I can get the full resolution of my monitor, as well as a brighter display and no more flickering. Now I also have an adapter that I can carry around to connect to a projector as well, so I have exactly what I need. This is not optimally done with 1 adapter but I am now satisfied with my options.