The HP Envy 13 is a well-crafted, great-looking ultraportable laptop with strong performance and small but meaningful touches over the 2-in-1 Spectre x360, that make it a pure joy to use.
- Solid productivity performance
- Spectacular battery life
- Exotic good looks and an excellent build
- Precise and comfortable keyboard
- Crisp 4K touchscreen
- No six-core processor or GTX graphics
The Envy line already has some of the thinnest borders in the business, but the new HP Envy 13-aq0044nr boast a thrilling 97 percent screen-to-body ratio. Simply said, 97 percent of the laptop’s footprint is taken up by the display, leaving a bezel that’s just 2.5 millimeters thick. That’s the best yet, competing with the Asus ZenBook S13, a thin, premium ultraportable.
Our review unit ships with a Whiskey lake 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD). The configuration price depends on your choice of hardware, but you can spend as much as $1800 if you decide to max out the components in an ultrabook like the latest Dell XPS 13 9380, featuring a 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 4K resolution.
HP’s new model makes major changes to my favorite Envy, and the company is asking a premium for it. Did they manage to craft something great to be even better, or did they kill the magic?
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We see so many silver laptops during our reviews that it can be hard to tell them apart, but the Envy 13 adds an original tone that make it stand out. The matte aluminum lid has a distinct incline in the back that covers the hinge, giving the machine clean, sleek lines. The shiny HP logo in the middle pops, while the tapered shape of the chassis gives the entire profile a slim, sexy look. The bottom surface is made from a smooth magnesium alloy.
The lid opens to an attractive aluminum deck, with signature silver keys that match the deck profile (MacBooks tend to break the color with brown keys, though.) The 13.3-inch screen is surrounded by thin bezels, but not as nearly edge-less as the Dell XPS 13 or Lenovo Yoga C930. At 0.57 inches thick, the Envy is slim enough to fit into a narrow pocket in your bag and compact enough to fit any back-seat tray. And, its 2.93-pound weight makes it easy to carry along on daily commute.
For most ultrabooks, the thin profile is achieved after sacrificing the ports. On the Envy, port offering includes two USB 3.1 Type-A, one USB 3.1 Type-C (supports Power Delivery 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, HP Sleep and Charge), one AC smart pin and a headphone/microphone combo.
There’s also a microSD card reader and a physical webcam kill switch on the side. Unlike the Huawei MateBook X Pro ’s pop-up webcam, HP introduces the physical button that kills the webcam electronically and makes it disappear from the system completely. Wireless connectivity comes via Intel Wireless AC 9560 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth.
HP Envy 13-aq0044nr – Display
The 13.3-inch, 4K (3840 x 2160) touch screen on the Envy offers decent image quality. As plenty of PC manufacturers have pointed out, most people are buying laptops to watch movie and television. This machine supports your Netflix binge with a 4K, micro-edge WLED-backlit touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass. That’s a lot of acronyms, but it represents the best combination of display tech currently in the market. And on the Envy 13, it looks fantastic.
Contrast ratio is superb. Every aspect of image quality is enhanced on the Corning Gorilla Glass, which s noticeable, especially if coming from an LCD version. Between the high resolution and dynamic colors, we’re impressed by this display on a laptop – that is, even without having to test it with a colorimeter yet.
Keyboard & Touchpad
The keyboard used here is so good, that it alone, makes this laptop a compelling option for college students and professional creatives. Finally, HP manages to undercut competitors with a very thin laptop, that has a world-class typing experience. Even with tiny keys that have a modest 1.2mm of travel, you’ll not find yourself bottoming out. On 10FastFingers.com typing test, you can easily max out 110 words per minute.
Below the keyboard is a 4.3 x 4.1 buttonless touchpad that’s highly accurate, whether you’re highlighting text or navigating the desktop. It responds flawlessly to multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipes.
The Envy 13 comes with a dual-core Whiskey Lake Core i7 processor. It also packs up to 16GB of RAM, up to 512GB of SSD storage, and an Nvidia MX250 graphics card. While that’s not the most powerful graphics card in the world, it should provide more muscle for any kind of content creation or video rendering. We’re happy to see an improved version of the MX150 in this base model.
That should be plenty of power for the average PC user, it should be noted that you’re getting all that in a super-sleek device with a crisp 4K display. Simply put, this machine is among the best in the pack of machines sporting the same processor. No matter what you throw at it, it responds without hesitation. It should perform extremely well for any productivity task and for some serious content creation as well.
Most modern systems using the SSD technology are equally fast, and the Envy 13 is no exception. Everything is spirited, opening applications, accessing and saving files, and loading games is quite immediate and refreshingly quick. The included Nvidia MX250 in the Envy 13 is primarily to help drive the 4K display and to meet the needs of content creator target market. Indeed, the GPU should help with video editing and the like, but by no means is it a gaming GPU. You can only get away with casual games here.
The Envy 13 has an efficient yet fast CPU in the Core i7-8565U, a nice display that uses half the usual power. With this, you can achieve excellent battery life. The laptop will last a strong 10 hours and 38 minutes over continuous Wi-Fi surfing. This is better than you get from most ultrabooks, that average 9 hours, except the Dell XPS 13 that lasts a much longer 11:56.
The HP Envy 13-aq0044nr is a well-crafted, great-looking ultraportable laptop with strong performance and small but meaningful touches over the 2-in-1 Spectre x360, that make it a pure joy to use. It’s very fast, last a very long time on a single charge, and feels great in hand.
Is there a better alternative?
The Dell XPS 13 is a great 13-inch competitor. It’s more solid, but not so much that you would notice unless that’s exactly what you’re looking for. It also uses the newer 8th-gen Whiskey Lake CPU and can last longer away from a plug.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Envy is one of the best 13-inch ultraportable laptops on the market today, and few competitors come close. In fact, it’s one of the best laptops you can buy. Period.