Last year, HP claimed to "redefine the premium notebook PC" when the company unveiled the new HP Envy 13. This 13-inch notebook offers high-performance, power-efficient processors, ATI switchable graphics, lightweight aluminum and magnesium construction, and features a bright screen with amazing color depth for exceptional picture viewing and video playback. On paper, the Envy 13 promises to be everything you want in a laptop. Keep reading to find out if this premium notebook is worth its premium price tag.
Our HP Envy 13 Specifications:
The Envy 13 marks a significant design departure for HP. Gone is the glossy HP Imprint finish that was common to its Pavilion line, and plastic has given way to aluminum and magnesium alloy. The simple magnesium lid doesn't feature any kind of eye-catching design, but we appreciate the emphasis on function over form. This is one of the most durable lids we've seen on a 13-inch consumer notebook and should easily withstand any use and abuse from most owners. We applied significant force to make the lid flex, which means the screen should be well-protected inside your laptop bag or backpack.
The ENVY 13 and 15 are packaged in new "green" yet stylish paper carton boxes using minimal ink. To further HP's environmentally-friendly goals, the only paperwork included in the packaging is a simplified setup poster. All additional documentation - from the user manual to the warranty guides - are contained on a SD card in the box. The power adapter, VGA display adapter and optional external Blu-ray drive fit neatly inside storage spaces beneath the notebook.
Screen and Speakers
The 13.3-inch "HP Radiance" display is roughly twice as bright as other notebook displays of the same size – 410 nit brightness – and this helps compensate for the glossy surface covering the screen. It also allows you to cleary see the screen even under direct sunlight. This LED-backlit display offers 82 percent color gamut (versus the standard 45-60 percent on other notebooks), so photos have more intense color saturation and video "pops" off the screen. Of course, if you're a photography enthusiast you might want to tone down the colors on this display since they are a bit too rich compared to natural colors. Viewing angles are average, though at first glance, the screen looks better since the intense color depth masks the typical signs of color shift and inversion at steep viewing angles.
The built-in stereo speakers carry the "Beats Audio by Dr. Dre" branding which suggests a premium listening experience. In our test lab, the results weren't as impressive as the "Beats" brand implies. The speakers produce clear sound with plenty of volume but bass is lacking and the overall sound quality is rather tinny; akin to listening to music from inside an aluminum can. Headphones are the best option to enjoy music and movies from the notebook. Another alternative is using the HDMI-out to pass digital audio to a home stereo.
The full-size island-style or "Chiclet" keyboard is a welcome change from HP's previous keyboards and provides excellent key spacing and support. Most of our editors agree that the 13-inch form-factor is a perfect compromise between size and user comfort when typing. Too small, and the palmrest won't support your wrists. Any bigger, and the notebook ceases to be travel-friendly. Key action is smooth and quiet with a mild click emitted when you fully press a key. Key wiggle is minimal and individual key depth or "throw" is perfect. We didn't notice any keyboard flex on the underlying support struicture even when we pressed forcefully on the keys. In short, the Envy 13 keyboard is among the best we've used on a 13-inch notebook.
Ports and Features
Port selection is disappointing on the Envy 13. You get a SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI out and a combo audio jack. This is simply depressing since most 11-inch notebooks offer more. Frankly, given the cost of the notebook and the amount of unused space around the edges, HP could at least add one more USB port as well as FireWire or eSATA. On a more positive note there are three large heat vents on the sides and back, so at least overheating shouldn't be a problem.
more than 100 focused websites providing quick access to a deep store of
news, advice and analysis about the technologies, products and processes crucial
to the jobs of IT pros.
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2000 - 2013, TechTarget | Read our Privacy Statement