The Envy line from HP is somewhat ironically named, considering that it is the company’s mid-range offering behind the Spectre series. Nevertheless, the products from the line have earned a decent reputation for themselves against others in the midrange market.
I’ll be looking at one of the laptops under the ENVY name, the HP ENVY x360 13, which comes equipped with an AMD processor — a rarity for 2-in-1 convertible laptops. This laptop has specifically been marketed towards the creatives, promising performance to aid that type of workflow. We’ll see if that claim matches up.
Build Quality and Design
HP’s laptops are usually very sleek, and the same goes for the HP ENVY x360 13. It features a dark metallic grey that surrounds every surface of the device, from the chassis to the keyboard deck, with the glossed HP logo adorned right at the centre of the lid.
Despite it being in the midrange bracket, it doesn’t seem like one. Instead, the look informs a higher budget business laptop.
The look extends to the quality of the build as well. The HP ENVY x360 13 has a solid, robust feel that doesn’t make you feel like you are handling a cheap product. There’s little give when applying pressure onto the chassis, which is a reassuring aspect of the device’s durability.
With the HP ENVY x360 13 being on the smaller end of laptops, it is a pleasant surprise that HP could include several port options. You get two USB-A ports and a Type-C port alongside the headphone jack and the port for the power; there’s even a micro-SD slot too.
Part of the reason it could cram all of these in was using hinges for the USB-A ports. When not in use, the hinges make the ports smaller by covering the underside, and you can uncouple it by pushing down on it if you want to use the port.
I must say, though, I’m not a big fan of this hinge implementation. It can get frustrating to use as they tend not to cooperate when trying to stick in a cable or dongle; it is simply more effort than it needs to be.
Of course, given its sturdiness and the included port selection, this would translate into a bit of extra weight for the device. At 1.32kg, it isn’t exactly heavy, but it also isn’t lightweight, especially compared to other laptops in its size class. There’s a feeling of heft when you’re carrying the device around, probably due to how dense it is.
It isn’t much of a problem when lugging it around in a bag, but carrying it around with one hand does put some strain on it after some time and diminishes my overall enjoyment of using it as a tablet somewhat.
The HP ENVY x360 13 sports a 13.3-inch display — around the standard size you would see for a 2-in-1 laptop.
Bezels on the screen are slim for the most part, though the top and bottom ones are a little thicker than the sides. In general, though, the device still gives a decent screen-to-body ratio for the user.
Unfortunately, the bezels aren’t enough to enable a 16:10 aspect ratio that is all the rage right now with laptops. It still sits at 16:9, which means that you won’t be reaping the benefits of increased vertical space for web browsing or productivity work.
My experience with the display has been good. It comes in at a 1080p resolution, but I’ve found the screen to be generally sharp in terms of picture quality.
I’m also quite satisfied with how the screen outputs colours, showing a richness in the details. Keep in mind that it still does not compete with laptop displays in the premium category, but the ENVY x360 13’s screen won’t be eliciting any complaints.
Brightness plays a part in that respect. The laptop’s screen can display up to 400 nits of brightness, which brings out the vibrancy in the colours. And it helps out in other ways as well, notably against glare issues. I still could view content on the glossed texture screen at 60% brightness even with the sun shining on it indoors.
With it being a 2-in-1 laptop, the screen is of course touch-capable, bringing concerns of fingerprints messing with the look of the display. While they are visible, they aren’t very apparent until you’ve used the touchscreen for hours upon hours.
For the most part, the touchscreen works as intended and can be used with HP Rechargeable MPP 2.0 Tilt Pen, which is pressure sensitive and has two customisable pen buttons.
Unfortunately, bringing the pen around is a little problematic. Though it attaches magnetically to the side of the laptop, the force isn’t secure enough, and oftentimes the pen gets detached when the laptop is in a bag, for instance.
The keyboard for the HP ENVY x360 13 is much like the standard seen in a typical laptop. You get a decent amount of travel upon typing, though it does have a little bit of softness when pressing down on it, which doesn’t make the typing experience as satisfying as it could be.
The trackpad is also a good size. It isn’t the biggest one you’ll find on a laptop, but there should be enough space for your fingers to travel through for something like web browsing.
Overall, everything seen and felt on the keyboard deck is very inoffensive. Laptops within the premium selection may feature better parts, but overall the HP ENVY x360 13 still provides a good experience when using it.
At the heart the HP ENVY x360 13 is the AMD processor powering it, of which ours was the Ryzen 7 4700U.
For your everyday types of use like web-browsing, streaming media and video calls, the laptop can handle them with no problems — there was never a situation where the device lagged if I switched between the various applications for each.
One somewhat unusual thing I did notice was that the fans would occasionally kick up audibly when I was doing productivity work with the laptop connected to a monitor. It was infrequent, but it was mildly annoying when it did happen.
While this system isn’t explicitly made for gaming, it can handle some popular titles like Fortnite or Apex Legends at very playable frame rates — over 60 fps — provided that you are alright with not playing those games at the highest level of visual fidelity.
But ultimately, this is a device that is supposed to be catered towards the creatives, and the results seem to be mixed.
Graphic work on applications like Photoshop, work great on the laptop for the most part. Editing photos on it was relatively issue-free and did not feature any signs of slowness when using it.
Video editing is a different story. First impressions are initially alright; the laptop’s performance fared better than its counterparts with Intel Integrated Graphics due to having Vega Graphics. Although there were slight jitters when scrubbing through a video timeline in 1080p, it wasn’t too distracting to be a problem. For 4K footage, you’ll need to have it downscaled in the preview to ensure a smoother scrubbing process. Overall, nothing too damning.
The issues lie more with the export performance. While having eight cores is great, the graphics throughput does slow down the export process — it performs worse than a MacBook Pro with a dedicated graphics card.
One of them concerns the performance of the speakers. At 50%, the volume from the system is surprisingly loud compared to other laptops, but when you max it out, the increase is very minimal to the point that it actually sounds soft on the whole. The quality of the sound itself is nothing special, so the loudness (or lack thereof) from the speakers makes the listening experience rather muted (pardon the pun).
There was also a recurring problem encountered with Windows Hello. On some occasions, the face login option was not available unless you restarted the system. The suspicion is that this is more of a Windows issue rather than an HP one, but it should be noted nonetheless.
The battery life for the HP ENVY x360 13 lasts for a decent amount of time.
Running the laptop at 60% brightness, I was able to get it to stay on for around 7 to 8 hours before it died out and needed to charge — which is excellent considering that the laptop’s versatility means more extended hours of use.
HP still uses a barrel plug to charge the ENVY x360 13, but you can charge it via the USB-C port at the side as an option.
For a midrange product, the HP ENVY x360 13 looks and performs beyond the category that it is in. Aspects like the display quality and the battery life are things that many people will enjoy having.
However, don’t expect it to compete with those in the premium category. Dedicated workhorses are still much better choices if you need a system for a particular type of workload, like video editing.
In general, the average consumer will most likely be very satisfied with the experience that the HP ENVY x360 13 provides. While it isn’t the cheapest in mid-range laptops, the package more than justifies the cost.
Photos by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC Team.