Review: HP Envy 13 (2017) notebook

HP’s new Envy 13 is an Intel 7th generation, Core i5 or i7 notebook that is quite a step up from the HP Pavilion and its other value sub-brands.

If envy is not one of the seven deadly sins, we should create a new category – anyone would love to have this superbly designed, value packed, notebook.

It also comes in both 13” and 15” models with a choice of clamshell or x360° style hinges. Unfortunately, it is not on HP’s web site but it is at Australian retailer Harvey Norman.

A word of warning. There is also an Envy 2016 on run-out and possibly dozens of different SKUs, so be careful if shopping – you really want the 2017 model.

First Impressions

First impressions are that it’s thin and a lot more premium-looking Ultrabook than last year’s variant, with narrower screen bezels, wider keyboard, enhanced speakers an attractive grille, and more of the other design changes seen on many of the new HP 2017 models.

 

For reference the 2017 model has keys and the screen right to the edge – the older models have larger bezels and keyboard surrounds so that means a 13.3” screen in a 12” chassis.

How does it perform?

The i5-7200U is used in many notebooks and all they perform similarly Passmark is 4695 for i5-7200U and 5239 for the i7-7500U.

Intel HD Graphics 620 is fine for office, browsing and movies but it is not a games machine.

Wi-Fi AC is via an entry-level Intel 7265 dual band chip that supports up to 867Mbps in 2 x 2 MIMO. In the “20m test” (from an AC5300 MU-MIMO router through a concrete floor) it achieved from 170Mbps to 260MBps – I suspect this is an early driver issue.

The Toshiba SSD THNSN5256GPUK 256GB M.2 2280 SSD NVMe PCIe is capable of 1500/980Mbps read/write. In tests, it achieved 400/300Mbps. External read to a Samsung T3 SSD via USB-C 5Gbps 447Mbps.

Overall it is well above the performance of 2016 models and commensurate with the price paid.

Keyboard/trackpad

It is a good, rock solid, chiclet style with 1.5mm throw, 60g actuation and no key bounce. In typing tests, I achieved 89% accuracy comparted to a mechanical keyboard.

The trackpad allows almost a full sweep to move the cursor from top right to bottom left – almost as good as the HP x2 Spectre.

Screen

It is a good HD, 1920 x 1080, IPS panel using HP’s WLED (white LED backlight) like that used on the x2 Spectre. And like the Spectre, it gives a whiter screen but a slightly cooler colour gamut.

I really liked the narrow bezels and it was a very responsive to touch. Brightness is fine under office lighting – but it can be a little washed out in direct sunlight.

The screen is easy to lift and the 135° hinge allows it to lift the base slightly off the table for more cooling.

Audio/webcam/microphones

The front B&O tuned L+R speakers are up-firing from in front of the screen and the other two are down firing from the bottom of the chassis.

Volume is good – around 70dB but they lack bass response being focused on the high range vocals.

The B&O app can adjust the sound but it makes little difference – every preset is basically 100% bass (this speaker’s weakness) and variations on mid and treble. Otherwise, it also provides a clean, 20Hz-20kHz feed via the 3.5mm headphone and Bluetooth.

The mic array has basic noise cancellation and can be tuned to your voice or multiple voices.

The 720p @30fps web cam is wide angle but induces too much noise even in office light (500 lumens).

There is no Window Hello facial recognition log-in.

Battery

HP claims somewhere between 10 and 14 hours depending on use, processor etc.

In an HD video loop at 50% screen brightness (night time viewing), it lasted six hours. In general office use at 75% screen is lasted about 4 hours.

Recharging was slow. It took nearly three hours from 0 to 100% and during the harder work parts of the tests the charger was flat out keeping up with battery drain.

Conclusion

The Envy brand is for those who want something better. Instead of a base model car they splurge for leather seats and some go-fast parts.

That is how I feel about the Envy 13 – it has some better parts but under the skin, it is still a consumer grade notebook.

Having recently seen and envied the excellent HP Spectre x2 or x360 you may want to consider these but they are the next step up the price ladder starting at $2199 for the i5, 8/256GB model.

It is part of HP’s new breed of better-looking notebooks.

Under the hood:

Spec Details
Model HP Envy 13-ad038tu, part number 2FL17PA

Note: Core i7-7500U part number 2FL25PA.

Display 13.3”, 1920 x 1080, 16:9, 166 ppi

IPS WLED (includes White LED plus RGB)
Edge-to-edge glass, multitouch enabled

Processor Intel Core i5-7200U, 2.5/3.1GHz, 2 core/4 thread
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
Memory 8GB-LPDDR3-1866
Hard drive 256GB, PCIe, NVMe, M.2 Solid State Drive (SSD)
microSD Yes (size unspecified)
Wireless Intel 8265, 802.11AC, 2×2, MIMO, Wi-Di
Bluetooth 4.2
Keyboard Full size, chiclet, 1.5mm/60g throw
Large glass touchpad with up to four finger gesturesNo fingerprint reader
Audio 4 x Bang & Olufsen, up-firing and down firing speakers with HP Audio boost

HP Web camera

Dual array mics

Ports 2 x USB-C, Gen 1, 5Gbps, DisplayPort 1.2
Interchangeable – power delivery upstream (charging tablet) and downstream (charges devices)2 x USB-A 3.1 (one with sleep and charge)
1 x 3.5mm combo audio
1 x microSD
Dimensions 30.54 x 21.56 x 1.39 cm
Weight 1.32 kg
Battery 53.6 WHr

Claimed up to 10 hours

Charger 45W, 19.5V/2.31A
Colour Cast and milled Magnesium and Aluminium alloy – polished and burnished
Operating System Windows 10 Home
HP Apps Windows Hello or Fingerprint sign in
Retailer Core i5 model as reviewed – $1799 at Harvey Norman

i7 – 16/512 $2,399 on HP site