Tech review: HP Envy x360 13 is a stylish convertible

The latest Envy x360 is an all-aluminium and glass affair that is relatively slim at 14.7mm thick and weighs around 1.3kg.
The latest Envy x360 is an all-aluminium and glass affair that is relatively slim at 14.7mm thick and weighs around 1.3kg.PHOTO: HP

HP's Envy series of laptops have, over the years, impressed me with premium designs that belied their mid-range pricing.

The latest Envy x360, a 13-inch convertible laptop that switches between notebook and tablet forms by rotating its flexible hinges, is no different. It is an all-aluminium and glass affair that is relatively slim at 14.7mm thick and weighs around 1.3kg.

Like last year's model, the Envy comes in a dark ash finish - evocative of smoky jazz clubs - that I found particularly appealing. The chassis, though, is easily smudged by fingerprints, so you have to wipe it regularly to maintain its looks.

To bolster privacy and prevent malware and hackers from surreptitiously spying on you, the Envy's Web camera can be disabled by a kill switch at the side of the laptop. Unlike Lenovo's implementation, which physically blocks the camera's view, HP's kill switch cuts off power to the Web camera.

Perhaps because of this privacy push, the facial recognition camera on last year's model is gone, replaced by a standard fingerprint sensor located below the keyboard on the right. While this location is fine for a clamshell laptop, it is not as accessible when using the Envy in its tablet, stand and tent forms. In comparison, last year's version has the fingerprint sensor integrated with the power button at the side of the laptop.

Its 13.3-inch display offers wide viewing angles, though its glossy finish is so reflective that it can be somewhat difficult to focus on the contents of the display. The screen could also be brighter to make reflections less obvious. To complement the touchscreen, HP has included a very decent stylus that lets you shade objects by tilting the pen at an angle.

Design-wise, the Envy can probably give HP's flagship Spectre series a run for its money. But there are reasons why the Envyis more affordable. Firstly, its thin metal chassis does not feel as rock-solid as premium models. There is a bit of creak when pressure is applied.

The same goes for the keyboard, which flexes slightly during typing. The keys also feel mushy to me, though the key travel and spacing between keys are decent. Despite being wider than usual, the touchpad feels cramped because it is relatively short.

Powering the Envy is an AMD processor instead of the ubiquitous Intel chip. This AMD Ryzen 7 processor is a quad-core model that is not as fast as its Intel equivalent in the PCMark 10 benchmark, which tests commonly used apps like productivity software and digital content creation tools.

The Envy scored 3,625 in PCMark 10 compared to 4,215 for the HP Spectre x360, which has an Intel Core i7 processor. But numbers aside, the Envy does not feel sluggish and is capable enough to run office apps without a hitch.

It also has good battery life, lasting 7hr43min in our usual video-loop battery test, which sets both the screen brightness and the volume to maximum.

  • FOR

    - Stylish premium design

    - Good battery life

    - Web camera can be disabled

    AGAINST

    - AMD processor not as fast as Intel's

    - Touchpad feels cramped

    - Screen could be brighter to mitigate glare

    SPECS

    Price: $1,699

    Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 3700U (2.3GHz)

    Graphics: AMD Radeon RX Vega 10

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    Screen size: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    Connectivity: USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, microSD card slot, audio jack

    Battery: 53 watt-hour

    RATING

    Features: 4/5

    Design: 4.5/5

    Performance: 3.5/5

    Value for money: 4/5

    Battery life: 5/5

    Overall: 4/5