HP Envy 13 review

Price when reviewed

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.

HP Envy 13 rear

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).


Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions321 x 216 x 21mm (WDH)
Travelling weight2.1kg
Weight with extended battery2.3kg
Travelling weight with extended battery2.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo SL9300
RAM capacity3.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size13.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetATI Mobility Radeon HD4330
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity233GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskToshiba MK2529GSG
Optical disc technologyExternal DVD writer
Optical driveHP
Battery capacity2,700mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetIDT HD Audio
Speaker locationFront edge
Hardware volume control?yes
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating2.0mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Overall application benchmark score1.02
Office application benchmark score1.10
2D graphics application benchmark score1.09
Encoding application benchmark score0.90
Multitasking application benchmark score0.99
3D performance (crysis) low settings40fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software suppliedCyberLink DVD Suite, Core VideoStudio X2, Corel Paint Shop Pro X2, HP Mediasmart Suite

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