The Bottom Line
- Excellent Albeit Glossy Display
- Strong Performance
- Attrative Metal Design
- Few Peripheral Expansion Ports
- Battery Life Falls Short Of Similar Laptops
- Intel Core 2 Duo SL9300 Dual Core Processor
- 3GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 250GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 13.1" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With Webcam
- ATI Radeon HD 4330 Dedicated Graphics With 512MB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 2.0, HDMI, SD Card Slot
- 12.6" x 8.5" x .8" @ 5.1 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, MediaSmart, Core Video Suite, Norton Internet Security
Guide Review - HP Envy 13 13.1-inch Ultraportable Laptop PC
Mar 18 2010 - At first glance, the HP Envy 13 can easily be mistaken for an Apple MacBook Pro. It uses a similar metal clad frame but has more rounded edges than the Apple laptop. It also shares a similar isolated key design for the keyboard and a large trackpad with integrated buttons. One other item that it shares is a fairly high price tag. This is clearly a more luxury laptop design.
Rather than using the Intel consumer ultra low platform, the HP Envy uses the more traditional laptop platform with low voltage parts. This gives the system an edge over many ultraportables when it comes to performance but not by as much as many would hope. The Intel Core 2 Duo SL9300 does a good job when paired up with the 3GB of DDR3 memory. It would have been nice to see at least 4GB of memory as this is what many companies provide now.
Many ultraportables have started to shift away from carrying an internal DVD drive to save on weight and cost. HP's Envy 13 comes equipped with an internal dual-layer DVD burner. This has the advantage of allow it to be used as a DVD player while traveling which is a nice perk but the system does end up heavier than its .8 inch thickness implies. Along with the optical drive, the system uses a 250GB hard drive that is slightly smaller than what many newer systems are coming out with but it is more than Apple's base drive size in the MacBook Pro 13.
One of the better features of the Envy 13 is the display. While the retail version uses a fairly standard 1366x768 display, the screen offers a wider color gamut and brightness than the competition that makes it very well suited for those looking at a compact graphics work platform. It also uses a dedicated ATI Radeon HD 4330 graphics processor rather than relying on integrated graphics like much of the ultraportables on the market. This allows it to handle HD video better and basic 3D gaming but the graphics processor is not going to make this something gamers might be interested in.
HP is really trying to push a very long battery life with the Envy 13. They tout a really high 18 hour battery life with an optional and expensive external battery pack. In my DVD playback test, the Envy 13 with its standard battery was able to achieve roughly three hours before going into standby mode. This is certain a step up from traditional performance laptops but it falls short of what many ultraportables can achieve including their primary competitor the Apple MacBook Pro 13.
Pricing for the HP Envy 13 is roughly $1500. This puts it well above the average cost of an ultraportable laptops but it does come with some premium support options that are not included with HP's other laptop systems. Whether this is worth the cost is really up to the consumer though.