When it comes to notebook aesthetics I must admit that I’m partial to MacBook, but when the HP Envy 13 came in for review, the Windows 10-sporting device’s design certainly left an impression on me.

It shows that Apple aren’t the only one’s who can make great looking all-purpose notebooks, with HP’s offering featuring a few eye-catching elements.

But looks aren’t everything, so how then does the rest of the HP Envy 13 perform?

Is that a MacBook?

Before I delve into the nitty-gritty of the Envy 13 let’s focus on the design for a bit longer.

While I’m sure HP will never admit it, but it’s clear to see that elements of the Apple MacBook served as design inspiration for this device.

And in perhaps a compliment to HP, I was asked several times if the Envy 13 was a MacBook by those who didn’t immediately spot the lack of Apple logo.

As such this notebook from HP definitely gets the job done when it comes to turning heads.

It’s not just that it’s swathed in silver aluminium either.

HP has added a few of its own design flourishes to distinguish its notebook from that of rivals.

Hit and miss

One touch in particular that I like is the edge of the Envy 13’s lid, which can be viewed when the notebook is closed. The review model features a design that’s created to look like the grain of a piece of wood, contrasting nicely with the finish of the rest of the notebook.

Opposing that particular element is a distinctly sharp bottom portion of the notebook, creating a lip that can be quite uncomfortable to rest the palms of your hand or wrist on while typing. You also feel it when you have to lift up the Envy 13.

This also brings us to one of the design flaws, in my opinion, of the notebook, with the weight of the lid containing the 13.3″ Full HD display (1 920 X 1 080) and the bottom portion of the notebook being too similar.

This means that tilting the screen or opening the notebook becomes a two-handed affair. Not a deal breaker by any means, but something you become acutely aware of if you’ve been using a MacBook or another premium notebooks for years.

Out of place

Another element that proved quite puzzling on the HP Envy 13 is the chiclet keyboard on offer.

For one the look is not in keeping with the aesthetic of the rest of the notebook. There is very little gap between keys for example, along with the keys being a bit too large resulting in an impeded typing experience.

Add to that a slightly spongy feeling while typing, and lacking that satisfying click as your building momentum while typing, and it seems like HP has missed a step here.

No, the HP Envy is not terrible to type on, but given how nice the rest of the notebook is, getting this aspect wrong is rather disappointing.

Great performer

Despite a sub par keyboard setup, the actual performance of the HP Envy 13 is quite pleasing indeed.

The review model is sporting an Intel 8th Gen Core i7 (8550U), which is paired with 8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD.

This mix yields a solid experience, with the Envy 13 quick and responsive while switching between different applications. Benchmarking revealed a similar result for the notebook, with UserBenchmark noting that it performs above expectations.

More specifically the processor setup here is only bested by 23 other notebooks on the market with a similar specification. Added to this the SSD is viewed as suitable for heavy workstation tasks, along with demolishing everyday tasks like web browsing, watching videos and working on Office apps.

All in all then, the HP Envy 13 is well-equipped and delivers a performance to match.

On the battery front a 51Wh lithium-ion unit is powering the device with a solid nine hours of life while under heavy use and full screen brightness. Whether that will remain the case 12 to 24 months down the line, remains to be seen, as I’ve had some issues with Envy notebooks in the past when it comes to battery capacity over time.

For now though, and having used the HP Envy 13 for the past three weeks, the battery here should see you through a nine to five with ease.

Final verdict 

This version of the HP Envy 13 costs an estimated R19 999, depending on the retailer.

For that price you get a great looking notebook that will turn heads. Added to this is an internal mix of elements that yield a great all-round performance. On a personal level I do have my doubts about the battery life a few months from now, given my past experiences with the Envy range.

That said in the time reviewing the Envy 13, it did not give me cause for concern once. The only real dent on this sleek and powerful notebook is the less than pleasing keyboard layout.

At R20k, the HP Envy 13 ticks all the boxes needed of a good notebook, along with turning a few heads as well.

When it comes to notebook aesthetics I must admit that I'm partial to MacBook, but when the HP Envy 13 came in for review, the Windows 10-sporting device's design certainly left an impression on me. It shows that Apple aren't the only one's who can make great looking all-purpose notebooks, with HP's offering featuring a few eye-catching elements. But looks aren't everything, so how then does the rest of the HP Envy 13 perform? Is that a MacBook? Before I delve into the nitty-gritty of the Envy 13 let's focus on the design for a bit longer. While I'm sure HP will never admit it, but it's clear to see that elements of the Apple MacBook served as design inspiration for this device. And in perhaps a compliment to HP, I was asked several times if the Envy 13 was a MacBook by those who didn't immediately spot the lack of Apple logo. As such this notebook from HP definitely gets the job done when it comes to turning heads. It's not just that it's swathed in silver aluminium either. HP has added a few of its own design flourishes to distinguish its notebook from that of rivals. Hit and miss One touch in particular that I like is the edge of the Envy 13's lid, which can be viewed when the notebook is closed. The review model features a design that's created to look like the grain of a piece of wood, contrasting nicely with the finish of the rest of the notebook. Opposing that particular element is a distinctly sharp bottom portion of the notebook, creating a lip that can be quite uncomfortable to rest the palms of your hand or wrist on while typing. You also feel it when you have to lift up the Envy 13. This also brings us to one of the design flaws, in my opinion, of the notebook, with the weight of the lid containing the 13.3" Full HD display (1 920 X 1 080) and the bottom portion of the notebook being too similar. This means that tilting the screen or opening the notebook becomes a two-handed affair. Not a deal breaker by any means, but something you become acutely aware of if you've been using a MacBook or another premium notebooks for years. Out of place Another element that proved quite puzzling on the HP Envy 13 is the chiclet keyboard on offer. For one the look is not in keeping with the aesthetic of the rest of the notebook. There is very little gap between keys for example, along with the keys being a bit too large resulting in an impeded typing experience. Add to that a slightly spongy feeling while typing, and lacking that satisfying click as your building momentum while typing, and it seems like HP has missed a step here. No, the HP Envy is not terrible to type on, but given how nice the rest of the notebook is, getting this aspect wrong is rather…

TL;DR

Total Score - 8

8

Three cheers

A great looking notebook that performs solidly as well, the HP Envy 13 is a good alternative to the more subdued offerings out there. A crisp display, powerful processor and eye-catching design, the Envy 13 has all of the above.

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8