HP Envy 13 review

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Asus ZenBook UX303UA, but not quite as svelte as theDell XPS 13, which tapers from 15mm down to just 9mm.

That’s still an impressive feat for a 13.3in laptop, though, and it’s immensely comfortable to carry around. At 1.27kg, it’s marginally heavier than the lightest XPS 13, but you’re not going to notice the difference during day to day use, and it’s certainly a laptop you can take on the move all day without feeling the strain.

Its design is very classy and understated, with a mixture of a silver aluminium chassis and a matt black bezel around the screen. The lid has an attractive mirrored HP logo and a debossed strip for a little visual flourish. Along the left edge, you’ll find an SD card reader, a USB3 port that supports sleep and charge and a headset jack, while the right side has two more USB3 ports and a full-size HDMI port for connecting a display.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The premium design takes a slight dent when you notice how much flex is provided by the aluminium chassis, however. Strike away at the keyboard and it warps under the pressure of your fingers. The travel of the keyboard is disappointingly limited as well, which, when combined with the flex in the chassis, makes it not a particularly comfortable or accurate keyboard to use. The half-height Enter key was also irritating as the hash key has been placed directly above it.

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The Envy 13’s lifted hinge design does at least make typing a bit more comfortable when you’re sat at a desk, as the way the lid tucks round and under actually elevates the keyboard tray slightly when you open it. However, it also makes using the Envy 13 on your lap a little awkward, as the raised angle makes it less stable.

The keys are backlit, which is handy for typing in low lighting conditions, but there’s no brightness adjustment, so you can only have it turned on or off. It’s a welcome inclusion considering the price of the laptop, but I wish the backlight was better integrated, as you can see the small LEDs at the base of each key when it’s turned on, which becomes even more prominent with the raised keyboard angle.

The touchpad has a short but wide design. It’s not overly small, but a little extra vertical space wouldn’t have gone amiss, especially when there’s an abundance of space above the keyboard. The touchpad isn’t a Precision certified touchpad, either, so I found it rather imprecise and at times also a little erratic.

Broad strokes to move the cursor from one side of the screen to the other were generally fine, but smaller movements don’t provide that 1:1 movement you get with a quality Precision touchpad where it feels like your swipes are being directly translated onto the screen. Multi-touch gestures, at least, were more responsive, so two-finger scrolling and three-finger swipes all worked perfectly well. There’s also a fingerprint reader to the right of the touchpad that can be used with Windows Hello for fingerprint sign in.

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Speakers

There’s a pair of Bang & Olufsen-branded speakers placed to the left and right of the keyboard. These fire upwards, which is far better for dispersing and projecting sound than the puzzling down firing speakers often found on laptops, but in terms of sound quality, they’re disappointing. At higher volumes, the mids tend to distort and become uncomfortable, and there’s very little low-end to speak of. They’re by no means the worst laptop speakers I’ve heard, but you’d be better off plugging in a pair of headphones when listening to music or watching films.

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