The days when the MacBook Air is seen as the pinnacle of modern, minimalist laptop design is long gone. While Apple has gone for ever more minimal approaches with its laptops and sacrificing user experience along the way, many Windows laptop makers have taken the initiative to craft beauties of their own.
Companies like Asus, Dell, HP, Microsoft, and even Huawei have gone on to create some truly wonderful laptops. The Dell XPS and HP Spectre series are often seen as offering the best balance between design and performance – though these premium laptops come at a price. Thankfully, HP is taking the best design inspirations from the Spectre line and bringing it to the ENVY range, culminating in yet another sexy laptop from the company: the 2017 HP ENVY 13.
The aim of HP when crafting the ENVY 13 was to combine desirability with robust performance, and from our first impressions, it is hard to dispute that HP has done a pretty solid job here. The new Silk Gold colourway is fairly rare for laptops (with the exception of the MacBook), and for that reason it stands out without being too loud. In certain angles the slight gold tint is really understated and classy. There’s a standard Natural Silver colourway as well, if you prefer.
The entire exterior of the HP ENVY 13 is made from metal, which is expected from a premium Ultrabook. The lid also sports the futuristic new HP logo, which the company has stated that it endows only to its premium line of laptops. Add to that a thickness of just 13.95mm and a starting weight of 1.32kg, this laptop feels solid without feeling heavy.
One impressive new feature is taken right out of the premium Spectre line: HP has shrunk the side bezels to practically nothing; HP calls it the Micro Edge display. There is a top bezel as HP is keeping the webcam in the “right” position (unlike, say, the Dell XPS 13), but what this achieves is a laptop that is great to carry around as it does not feel too “long”.
Lifting the lid yields another unique design feature on the HP ENVY 13. The display lifts the bottom portion ever so slightly when the laptop is fully opened. This has two distinct advantages: first, it allows for ventilation on the bottom vents for the two cooling fans inside the device, and secondly, this lifted hinge design offers a better typing angle for users.
At this point, it should also be noted that this is one of the most generous premium Ultrabooks we’ve come across. Despite the thin chassis, the HP ENVY 13 has two USB 3.1 ports as well as two USB Type C ports – one of each of these ports are powered, so you can charge other devices using that port. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card slot lets you expand the internal storage easily.
As far as first impressions go, this is a pretty stunning laptop. Considering that the HP ENVY 13 is positioned as an upper mid-range Ultrabook, it has inherited quite a number of features from the flagship Spectre line – and the hardware package within is pretty impressive too.
The HP ENVY 13 is one of the first laptops in Malaysia to run on the new 8th gen Intel Core i processors. In fact, the 8th gen variants of the ENVY 13 isn’t even available in the US yet. It is available in three hardware configurations: two with a Core i5 and the third with a Core i7. Both feature a 13.3-inch Full HD IPS BrightView display.
The base model has a pretty solid spec sheet. It runs on an Intel Core i5-8250U processor with Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of PCIe SSD. The second Core i5 model has the same set of hardware, but adds an Nvidia GeForce MX150 discrete GPU into the mix. The Core i7 variant bumps it up a little more: an Intel Core i7-8550U processor with an Nvidia GeForce MX150 discrete GPU, 8GB of RAM, and a generous 512GB PCIe SSD.
On top of that, the HP ENVY 13 also has space for four speakers and a dedicated subwoofer, tuned by Bang & Olufsen. For a laptop of its size, audio output is crisp and can get surprisingly loud. There’s also a pre-installed Bang & Olufsen Audio software that allows for more tweaking of audio output using preset configurations.
Meanwhile, the HP ENVY 13’s keyboard and touchpad are what one would expect from an Ultrabook. The touchpad is generously wide to accommodate Windows 10’s multi-touch gestures, while the keyboard is backlit with decent travel – though without much tactile feedback (as is the case with most Ultrabooks anyway).
Finally, it should also be pointed out that the 2017 edition of the HP ENVY 13 has a larger battery than the flagship Spectre 13 (53.6Wh vs only 38Wh). In fact, it is one of the largest batteries in its class, bettered only by the significantly more expensive 13-inch MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 (54.5Wh and 60Wh, respectively). Combine this with the new power-sipping 8th generation Intel Core i processors, HP is promising up to 14 hours of battery life in a single charge. Of course, this claim is in ideal conditions and real-world numbers are generally lower, but we’ll be putting this to the test in our full review.
Value for money isn’t usually associated with a premium Ultrabook, but the HP ENVY 13 makes an interesting case in this regard. The Core i5 variant of the ENVY 13 retails for RM3,999, while the Core i5 with Nvidia GPU model is available for RM4,499. The Core i7 option goes for RM5,499. All things considered, the base Core i5 model may be worth taking a closer look.
After all, it fits the bill for those looking for a robust Ultrabook that’s capable of handling travel well. The metal body is durable being carried both in a backpack or a briefcase, while the slim chassis and 1.32kg weight is easy on the shoulders. Not to forget, the Micro Edge display shaves the overall footprint of the ENVY 13, too.
What we really like about the HP ENVY 13 is in the array of connectivity options. This is one of the rare Ultrabooks that offer two USB Type C ports alongside two full-sized USB 3.1 ports, which helps both with the user’s needs today and the future. It would be great if there was a HDMI or DisplayPort, of course.
And, surprisingly, there’s already a pretty good deal for the HP ENVY 13. A popular seller on Lazada has already listed the Core i5 model for just RM3,699. Given that the ENVY 13 is positioned in the same bracket as the Dell XPS 13 (which starts at RM4,499 with 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and 7th gen Core i5), the HP ENVY 13 is well worth considering – the two-year warranty further adds peace of mind.
Disclosure: This article was sponsored by HP Malaysia.