HP Envy 15 x360 review

A 15in laptop with more flexibility than most, HP’s latest takes the challenge to Lenovo’s Yoga range

Bobby MacPherson
16 Sep 2014
4
Price when reviewed 
649

The HP Envy range of devices has traditionally been associated with high-end prices and luxury finishes, but recently the company has begun to widen the brand's appeal. Nowadays, an Envy product needn't cost the earth, as its £649 HP Envy 15 x360 ably demonstrates. It even comes with a year's subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal.

HP Envy 15 x360 review

HP Envy 15 x360 review: design and features

Despite the reasonable price, though, this new Envy is a good-looking machine. It isn't the slimmest or lightest laptop around – at 24mm thick and 2.4kg without the charger – but the smooth, metallic-coloured plastic it's wrapped in looks smart. Open it up and the keyboard and touchpad are surrounded by an attractive, brushed-aluminium plate, with bevelled edges surrounding the touchpad that glisten and catch the light. It's no MacBook Pro, but neither does it look cheap.

Build quality is impressive: the keyboard base is unyielding, remaining immobile even when subjected to heavy-handed twisting, and the keys are well spaced and feel firm under the fingers. And there's a reason for the x360's bulk. It has a 360-degree hinge that allows the laptop to be used in a variety of positions, just like Lenovo's Yoga convertibles.

HP Envy 15 x360 review

We found HP's system worked well: the weighty keyboard base and light lid allow you to push the screen all the way back without the device toppling over, and the 360-degree hinge works a treat. We had no problem contorting the convertible into the different positions: “stand mode” sees the base flipped all the way round with the screen facing front; “tent mode” involves the entire laptop taking on a triangular shape, with the hinge facing up and the screen out; and in tablet mode the screen is folded completely flat against the base of the keyboard. In all of the modes the hinge felt smooth, solid and sturdy.

Another unusual feature is the touchpad, which is broader than average and flanked by two separate touch zones to the left and right. The idea behind this is to make Windows 8's edge-swipes more accessible. Click the left zone and the app switcher pops up, while swiping up and down scrolls you through the available apps. Clicking the right zone does the same thing with the Charms bar.

HP Envy 15 x360 review

It's a clever idea; alas it isn't implemented well. Since the side zones are part of the main surface of the touchpad, we found it far too easy to accidentally click or swipe into the additional zones during use. Perhaps they may have worked better if they'd been separated by half an inch on either side.

HP Envy 15 x360 review: performance

There's better news under the hood, with a Core i5-4210U Haswell CPU accompanied by 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a 1TB hard disk. It's a decent setup for a laptop at this price, racking up a respectable Overall score of 0.64 in our suite of Real World Benchmarks. Plus, as expected from a laptop powered by one of Intel's super-efficient Haswell processors, battery life was impressive. The x360 lasted 8hrs 40mins in our light-use battery test, with the screen set to a brightness of 75cd/m². While we've seen Haswell laptops last longer than this, there's still enough juice here to give you a full day of moderate use before you have to plug it into the mains.

High-performance gaming definitely isn't on the cards, however. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU struggled with our Crysis benchmark, managing 35fps on Low detail settings, and put out a stuttering performance on any graphical setting higher than Medium.

HP Envy 15 x360 review: screen quality

The x360 is also let down by its 15.5in, 1,366 x 768 LED screen. Even looking at it briefly, we could see it was low quality: images appeared limp and flat, with washed-out colours, and looked rather dim overall. We weren't surprised, then, when the panel delivered below-par results in testing: it achieved a maximum brightness of only 209cd/m², an abysmal contrast ratio of 325:1, and colour accuracy was very poor, with an average Delta E of 9.11. At least the touchscreen layer felt responsive. We found zipping around the Windows 8.1 Start screen and apps a straightforward and fluid experience.

HP Envy 15 x360 review

Finally, connectivity is nothing out of the ordinary, with one USB 2 and two USB 3 sockets, an HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet, an SD slot and Bluetooth 4. Particularly disappointing is that the wireless card is only single-band 802.11n; it's about time manufacturers stopped cost-cutting in this unnecessarily picky way and consigned single-band to the bin.

HP Envy 15 x360 review: verdict

Initially, the HP Envy 15 x360's effective, poseable and competent core hardware had us optimistic about its prospects, but despite good performance and decent ergonomics, the screen is a real sticking point. Ultimately, there are better-balanced budget laptops around for a more reasonable price than the x360 can offer: the Asus X552CL, for example, may lack the hinge and touchscreen of the Envy (and you have to ask yourself if you really need it in a laptop of this size), but it's just as practical, is only slightly less powerful, and boasts a significantly better screen for only £350.

Price when reviewed 
649(£541 exc VAT)

Warranty

Warranty 2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 383 x 256 x 24mm (WDH)
Weight 2.400kg
Travelling weight 2.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-4210U
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4400
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Optical disc technology N/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Speaker location Below wristrest
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 8hr 40min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 35fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.64

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8.1 64-bit
OS family Windows 8

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