HP Envy 13 review
A lavishly designed ultraportable with staggering battery life, but more liable to frustrate than excite
Review Date: 25 Nov 2009
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £1,304 (£1,500 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
It's taken them quite a while, but PC manufacturers are increasingly seeking to compete on even terms with Apple's iconic designs. The Dell Adamo was among the first to try its hand, and despite a weak, low-voltage CPU, keen pricing and a gorgeous physique won it a deserved place on our A-list. Now there's one more contender ready to enter the fray: HP's Envy 13.
Just like its big brother, the Envy 15, the 13 seeks to justify its considerable expense from the off. The plain, dark aluminium exterior looks smart and businesslike - a definite improvement on the somewhat overwrought, textured finish of the Envy 15. Peer inside, and those geometric dimples we found tattooed across the Envy 15's frame are applied with more reserve, spread only across the wristrest. It's still an odd decision, though, given those dimples are in the one place most likely to build up dirt and grime.
Practical and aesthetic qualms aside, the Envy 13 feels like it's worth every pound of its £1,304 asking price. Build quality is beyond reproach, with barely a hint of flex anywhere to be found on its 21mm thick chassis. It's all the more impressive as, while it might not trouble Apple's anorexic MacBook Air in the weight stakes, it weighs a creditably light 1.69kg.
Sturdy, portable, almost rather dashing in the right light, it's an impressive first showing from HP's new darling, but there's more. It's a minor thing, but the glossy power supply makes some attempt to look the part, and its practical too - a little loop of rubber at its rear helps bundle the power leads together when it isn't in use.
Far more interesting, though, is the battery slice. This moulds neatly to the Envy's underside, and swells battery life by an impressive margin. Working alone, the Envy's integrated battery manages a credidable 6hrs 12mins in our light use tests. Clip the battery slice into place, though, and while it pushes the Envy's weight to 2.34kg, battery life soars to an astonishing 15hrs 1min.
The Envy 13's stamina is partly due to the choice of a frugal, power efficient Intel processor. The SL9400 is the same processor found in Apple's £999 MacBook Air, and while it's dual core architecture nips along at a mere 1.86Ghz, the 3GB of DDR3 memory keeps Windows 7 feeling light on its feet. It's no speed demon, but a creditable 1.02 in our benchmarks proves it has enough oomph for most tasks.
The Envy 13 also has switchable graphics. ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 4330 chip provides the brawn, while one of Intel's integrated chipsets steps in when stamina is required. It's a sensible addition, with the switching software providing the option to automatically default to the spendthrift Intel chipset when on battery power. Allow the ATI chipset to take the reins, however, and it's man enough to manage our Medium Crysis test at an average of 13fps.
And while we might have moaned about the Envy 15's display, the Envy 13 gets it emphatically right. Colour reproduction is vastly improved and brightness levels are staggering; a combination that means photos, games and movies positively burst forth from the screen. And here, applied to a 13.1in panel, even the 1,366 x 768 resolution seems to make more sense.
There is evidence of less favourable aspects to the Envy's personality, though. Hunt around the Envy's smoothly contoured edges and you'll find just two USB ports, an HDMI socket, a single headphone socket - which like Apple's laptops, doubles as a microphone socket - and a card reader on the left flank. There's no Ethernet socket either: instead, the Envy 13 forces you to occupy one of the two USB sockets with an adapter (supplied in the box).
You can buy a apple macbook pro for £899 which will be made better, and is faster. the macbook battery lasts 7 hours any way. £1500 is a lot for a copy.
By BenSearson on 26 Nov 2009
Yeah, but with the macbook you'd have the stigma of being an apple attention whore.
Also what's with running crysis on underpowered garphic chips, what's the point, it's hardly a real world test is it. No one is going to do that, use a photoshop test or something useful and meaningful.
By dodge1963 on 26 Nov 2009
Why are other companies trying to copy Apple's buttonless touchpad (e.g. HP, Dell). Even using OS X is is an acquired taste, and it's less well suited to Windows - particularly when it's badly implemented.
By davidbryant4 on 3 Dec 2009
- All New HTC One: specs, release date and more
- Energy firms forced to use QR codes on bills
- Google to release "wearable" Android within a fortnight
- US cybersecurity official: What does ISP mean?
- Cameron: 5G networks will download movies in a second
- Europol warns: public Wi-Fi isn't safe
- Privacy groups challenge Facebook's WhatsApp buy
- IDC: iPad intertia opens door for Windows tablets
- Chip breakthrough to eliminate checkout queues
- Rivals put on notice as Spotify snaps up The Echo Nest
- Quickest way to upload 1GB? Hop on a train
- Move over Delia: IBM Watson is cooking tonight
- Eric Schmidt on the double-edged smartphone: friend and foe
- Getty joins the race to the bottom
- Hour of Code: five steps to learn how to code
- Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: first look
- Sony Xperia Z2 review: first look
- Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 review: first look
- Nokia XL review: first look
- Samsung Galaxy S5 review: first look
- Make the most of your mobile data
- Old-school internet scams: five that just won't die
- Bitcoin believers not worried by Mt. Gox disarray
- How to hack your car
- Small server vs cloud: which is best for SMBs?
- Block party: why do millions play Minecraft?
- What to do if you’re still on Windows XP
- Microsoft Word: top 20 secret features
- Measuring me: is your body the future of security?
- The best mobile apps for business
- Headings vs headers: how to use both in Word
- Windows Server 2012 R2: how the Datacenter edition could change SMBs
- Invoices and VAT: how to set up your documents correctly
- Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Active: the best phone for avoiding screen burn
- How much is a social user worth?
- The key to choosing a secure password
- Thunderbolt Bridge: a fast Mac migration tool
- Should you advertise on Twitter?
- How to track a lost smartphone
- Self-publishing success: the best way to sell your book