The Good The HP Envy 13 is a slim, lightweight laptop with a comfortable keyboard and decent speakers – plus a fingerprint sensor that makes Windows entry easy.
The Bad The battery life of this slim laptop is far below the competition. No touch screen.
The Bottom Line HP Envy 13 is a pretty good laptop, but why settle for good? Dell, Lenovo and even HP sell thinner and lighter laptops.
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Last year, something remarkable happened in the world of Windows laptops. Quality is affordable. Companies like Dell, HP and Asus have started selling sleek laptops made of durable aluminum and carbon fiber for less than $ 1,000.
The HP Envy 13 is the last computer in the ring. It costs just $ 800 (£ 699) for the uncompromising configuration that comes with a 2.3GHz 15W Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 128GB of solid state storage and a clear 1080p screen, all in chassis, weighing only 2.8 pounds and 12.9 mm in size. It’s one of the slimmest laptops ever made.
Comparatively thin laptops
|HP Envy 13||MacBook Air (13-inch)||Asus Zenbook UX305||Lenovo Yoga 900||Dell XPS 13||Vaio Z Flip|
|Dimensions||12.85 x 8.9 in. (326 x 226mm)||12.8 x 8.94 in. (325 x 227mm)||12.76 x 8.9 in. (324 x 226mm)||12.75 x 8.86 in. (324 x 225mm)||11.98 x 7.88 in. (304 x 200mm)||12.76 x 8.48 in. (324 x 215mm)|
|Thickness||0.51 inch (12.95mm)||0.68 inch (17mm)||0.48 inch (12.3mm)||0.59 inch (14.9mm)||0.6 inch (15.2mm)||0.66 inch (16.8mm)|
|Weight||2.81 lbs. (1275g)||2.96 lbs. (1350g)||2.65 lbs. (1202g)||2.84 lbs. (1288g)||2.7 lbs. (1224g)||2.96 lbs. (1343g)|
|Processor||6th-gen 15W Intel “Skylake”||5th-gen 15W Intel “Broadwell”||2nd-gen 4.5W Intel Core M||6th-gen 15W Intel “Skylake”||6th-gen 15W Intel “Skylake”||6th-gen 28W Intel “Skylake”|
But after spending a week with HP Envy 13, I can’t quite recommend it. It’s just not as good as the competition. (Go to the conclusion to find out what to buy instead.)
There is no giant attacker that destroys Envy 13. In fact, there is something to love. My favorite feature is the fingerprint sensor, which allows me to navigate to Windows rather than enter a password. This is one of the most responsive I have used on a consumer PC.
Not that entering passwords would be a big deal. I’ve been breaking every word of this review on a well-placed Envy 13 keyboard highlight, and I have no problems yet. The same goes for the glass touchpad: Even if the extremely wide casting surface means that the base of my thumb hits it as often, the mouse does not jump around like it does with low-speed laptops. (Two-finger scrolling is more bizarre than the best touch panels I’ve used, but it’s definitely a walk-through.)
While typing, I’m marveling at how good Pandora Radio can sound on the Envy 13’s Bang & Olufsen-branded speakers. Some tunes can sound pretty tinny, but it’s remarkable how wide a sonic field these speakers are able to project. I can clearly hear the distinctions between the instruments, and/or feel dubstep beats exploding all around my head.
Although the Envy design is clearly reminiscent of an Apple laptop, there are enough differences that the similarity is not too discouraging. The dark black cover panel does a great job of backlighting a matte finish that doesn’t give the distracting prints we normally see with glass. It’s also very neat as the J-shaped cover lifts the laptop to a comfortable typing angle.
Envy 13 performance is what we expect from one of Intel’s latest 15-core Core i5 processors. This is no exception, but it’s more than quick for everyday tasks – unless you run into a weird problem, I’ve seen where the laptop slows down while you’re charging it. (There is a simple fix that I will share later.)
Even the port situation isn’t as scary as you might expect on such a slim laptop. There is a full-size HDMI port, a full-size SD card reader, and three full-size USB 3.0 ports, as well as a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. My only complaint is the USB ports are extremely dense. When I try to pull my finger out, I feel like I’m breaking it.
The main weakness of Envy is the battery life. We measured just over seven hours in our standard battery discharge test, and I only saw four and a quarter hours in personal use.
You can also run into a strange problem if you try to charge the Envy 13 and use it at the same time. On three different viewing installations, I found that the processor would often stop stopping when the machine was plugged into a low battery outlet. Even switching between browser tabs would take a few seconds, and still my computer started running at full speed the moment I pulled the cord.
Update, March 10: While the problem initially ran into HP engineers, there is now a simple fix: a new BIOS, named F.34 Rev.A, which you can download and install at this link: (sp74847.exe) I almost tested it a week without release.
HP’s Envy 13 is one of the thinnest laptops ever made (pictures)
But the real reason you shouldn’t buy the Envy is that you can probably afford something better.
For just $ 100 more, your own HP Specter x360 is the obvious choice. It’s a little thicker and heavier, but it has almost double the battery life (12 hours in our test) and a touch-screen reverse, while most of the rest remains the same. I would probably recommend a $ 1,000 configuration (£ 899, $ 1,744) to provide enough memory.
If the anti-glare screen is a priority, you can also get almost double the battery life (12 hours) of the gorgeous Dell XPS 13. Again, you probably want the spring for a $ 1,000 configuration (£ 949, $ 1,999) avoid getting insufficient system.
Finally, if you are really looking for one of the slimmest money for a laptop to buy, your choice is clear (at least in the US): $ 1,200 Lenovo Yoga 900 (£ 1,450, $ 2,199), which justifies its super touch screen with high resolution, Core i7 processor and 256GB of memory.
The only alternative I would not recommend right now: Although Apple’s MacBook Air also has excellent battery life and sturdy construction, it has to do with overhaul. Apple is likely to upgrade it with faster chips and a better screen next month.
Envy 13 is a quality laptop worth about $ 1,000. At one time this was enough, but today it is only one of several very worthy competitors. If I bought the envy, I might be a little envious of people with laptops that are even better.