HP Envy 13 mini-review: Spectre fans, meet your budget option

HP Envy 13 mini-review We give a lot of attention to flagship PC families—and for good reason. Devices like the Dell XPS 13 and HP’s Spectre 13 often get new technologies and design perks before other lineups in the OEM’s portfolio. That remains true, but Dell, Lenovo, HP, and others are showing their other PC lines some love, too. Now, it’s not so strange to consider an Inspiron or an Envy laptop even if you usually sought out the latest and greatest machines for their cutting-edge tech and processing power.

HP’s newest Envy 13 laptop could cause Spectre diehards to take another look. With updated processors, optional Nvidia graphics, and a sleeker design, the Envy 13 looks like it can hold its own against devices like Dell’s Inspiron 13 7000 Black Edition, and even its cousins the Spectre 13 and the Spectre x360 13. As with any more affordable laptop (this one starts at $799), it makes some sacrifices to keep costs down, but those may prove inconsequential even for the most staunch Spectre lovers.

Look and Feel

The Spectre 13 and all of its variants are not for everyone, particularly those who don’t like making a statement with their laptops. Its metallic edges and accents make it flashy, and its angled corners are a nod to jewelry design. The Envy 13 forgoes all of that and instead looks like a professional, yet sleek, work machine. I tested a silver model, but it’s also available in a gold finish, which may appeal to those who want their laptop to have just a tad more personality than the rest.

While the Spectre 13 and x360 13 pride themselves on being thin and light, the Envy 13 isn’t as concerned with that—although you do get a surprisingly compact laptop. I’m not sure why I expected it to feel larger in my hands and in my backpack—maybe its blocky back edge deceived me—but the 12.08×8.32×0.57-inch, 2.59-pound laptop was a conveniently portable device.

The Envy 13 has a premium design in its own right, it just wears that premium nature differently than the Spectre 13 does. Its premium feel mostly lies in its all-metal chassis, slim bezels, angled edges, and clever hinge that lifts the laptop slightly when you open it. HP took a similar approach that Dell used when making the Inspiron 13 7000 Black Edition, which focuses on upgrading the laptop’s materials and trickling down some, but not all, high-end design elements.

Like the Inspiron, the Envy 13 has a fingerprint reader, but it lies on the palm-rest area instead of being integrated into the sliver of a power button that sits on the top-right corner of the keyboard area. Some machines allow you to power on and log in at the same time when they have integrated fingerprint readers on their power buttons, but Dell’s device doesn’t have that feature, and HP’s device cannot, since the two pieces of hardware are separate. Nevertheless, the fingerprint reader works as promised and is the only form of Windows Hello authentication on the Envy 13.

Added practicality comes in with the Envy 13’s ports: one USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port (for data transfer only), two USB-A ports with drop-jaw designs, a microSD card slot, a headphone jack, and a barrel charging port. I appreciate the drop-jaw design on the USB-A cables because they allowed HP to keep the device decently thin while also not compromising on connectivity options. HP also brought over the webcam kill-switch from the Spectre series to the Envy 13, allowing users to electronically disable the webcam whenever they please.

 

SPECS AT A GLANCE: HP ENVY 13 (AS REVIEWED)
Screen 13.3-inch 4K (3840×2160) IPS touchscreen
OS Windows 10
CPU Intel Core i7-8565U
RAM 16GB LPDDR3
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD + 32GB Optane Memory
GPU Nvidia GeForce MX250
Networking 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Ports 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 (data transfer only), 2 x USB-A (1 x data transfer only, 1 x HP Sleep and Charge), 1 x microSD card, 1 x headphone/mic jack, 1 x power port
Size 12.08×8.32×0.57 inches
Weight 2.59 pounds
Battery 65Whr 4C
Starting price $799.99
Price as reviewed $1,159.99

 

Screen and keyboard

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