HP Envy 13 (2016) Laptop Review: Form A to Z

The 13-inch MacBook Air’s 1440 x 900 pixel screen is much inferior to the 1080p display of the HP Envy 13’s panel. While there are more and more affordable Windows laptops with high-resolution displays available, the Envy is the model that costs £50 less. Apple is slated to refresh its Air and Pro MacBook lines in 2016, so while Windows laptops may be a better deal on the display department, that might not be the case before the year is over.

But, compared to Apple’s device, the Envy 13 also has twice as much memory, HD space, and a quicker processor. When seen in this light, the Envy offers excellent value for the money.

Spec sheet

Here is the full spec sheet of the HP Envy laptop sent to techradar for review:

  • CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U (dual-core, 4MB Cache, turbo boost up to 3.1GHz)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
  • Screen: 13.3-inch diagonal IPS Anti-Glare WLED-backlit 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD (plus 25GB of free online Dropbox storage for six months)
  • Optical drive: No
  • Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 (1 x HP USB Boost), 1 x HDMI, 1 x headphone/microphone combo, 1 x multi-format SD card reader
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac (2×2) and Bluetooth 4.0 combo (Miracast compatible)
  • Camera: HP TrueVision HD Webcam (front-facing) with integrated dual array digital microphone
  • Weight: 1.36kg / 3lb
  • Size: 12.85 x 8.90 x 0.50-inches / 326 x 226 x 12.9mm (W x D x H)

As I mentioned earlier, the HP Envy Notebook 13-d002na undercuts the equivalent Dell XPS 13 by around nearly £500 (around $348) but the Envy saves on its asking price by using a lower res non-touch screen. Although a QHD+ 3200 x 1800 pixel screen can be added, there isn’t yet a touchscreen model. In contrast to the Envy, the Dell has a smaller screen bezel, which reduces the footprint by over 22.5mm in height and 26mm in depth.

Our review of the newly released and upgraded Asus UX305, the UX305CA, which uses the new Skylake CPU, will be published soon. It will be a force to be reckoned with, based on the UX305.


The HP Envy 13 did as follows in our battery of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 5,293; Sky Diver 3,190; Fire Strike: 810
  • Cinebench: CPU: 300 cb; OpenGL: 38.28 fps
  • PCMark 8 Home: 2,512
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours 30 minutes

I adored the HP Envy 13’s quick boot and shutdown times for everyday use. Microsoft Edge’s several tabs and videos didn’t bother it. The Envy performed admirably in the Cinemark OpenGL tests, outperforming the Dell XPS 13 (2015) by 9.52 frames per second. The on-board graphics chip (Intel HD Graphics 520), which operates 1000 MHz faster than the Intel Graphics 5500 solution on the XPS, also contributes to this improvement in addition to the faster processor.

Having said that, the screen itself is visible from all directions and brilliant. At mid-brightness levels, its white and lighter colors are a tad bland, but this is not apparent when viewing movies. Although not having a Retina Display, this Envy’s screen is above average and offers good value given the other extras it comes with for the price.

A disappointing 3 hours 30 minutes were recorded by PC Mark 8, which is almost an hour less than the Dell XPS 13, which recorded a time of 4 hours 21 minutes. Even if you lowered the brightness to its lowest settings, you wouldn’t be able to work for the whole nine hours that HP promises.

The Envy’s 3-cell, 45 Wh Li-ion polymer battery was also put to the test by playing Guardians of the Galaxy continuously for an entire night while in Airplane Mode and with the brightness and volume set to 50%. Although it did better, the time was still only 4 hours 55 minutes. Battery life is the one area of the Envy’s hardware where it fails.

Bundled software

  • McAfee LiveSafe Internet Security – HP’s standard bundled antivirus software
  • HP Lounge – HP’s own entertainment hub, a little like Spotify
  • HP SimplePass – Software to run the fingerprint scanner

We liked

The second-thinnest laptop from HP meets up to the design hype; it is durable, lightweight, and portable. Even though it’s not entirely made of aluminum, the non-metal components don’t feel flimsy. The broad touchpad is appreciated, and typing on the keys feels strong with minimal dropouts.

The full HD screen provides a rich color space and a wide viewing angle. The new i7 processor performed admirably in the benchmark tests, and the £800 asking price is reasonable for one of the new, more powerful Skylake Processors.

We disliked

The flaws I discovered were primarily physical. It takes some getting used to where the hash key is located and how the Enter key is shaped. In general use, the touchpad would occasionally zoom in instead of scroll, an infrequent but annoying glitch that could possibly be fixed in a software update.

Its battery life wasn’t quite as good as some of its competitors’. It couldn’t make it up to 5 hours of looping movie playback in Airplane Mode. Moreover, the battery life didn’t seem to compete very well with a 2012 MacBook Pro in daily use.

Final verdict

HP’s incredibly small laptop had our hearts. It has practically MacBook Air physical specs, a new CPU that consistently outperforms older models, and all the other qualities of brilliance. The Envy might be just what you’re looking for if you want something that’s small, light, and portable with a powerful processor and an FHD screen.

Without the chance to recharge, travelling from office to office or study to study could leave you with little power.

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