If you are looking for a thin and light machine, to work or distract yourself wherever you go, take a look at the 2019 version of the Envy 13, the ultraportable star of the American manufacturer. This beautiful little 13.3-inch case, just over 1.2 kilos, all aluminum, is almost as elegant as the Apple MacBook Air or the Dell XPS 13 and just as neat in terms of finish. For a very low price, the Envy 13 also offers a fairly surprising level of equipment and performance.
The Envy 13 2019 edition is available in various configurations, starting at 999 euros on the HP online store. At 1049 euros, the model reviewed here (full reference: Envy13 – aq0007nf – 6VT23EA) includes a Core i5-8265U chip, 8 GB of DDR4 memory and a 512 GB SSD module. In addition to the panoply of sockets (USB 3, USB-C…) and wireless modules that any good modern ultraportable has.
HP adds several techs of its own, such as a “privacy filter” to prevent your neighbors from browsing your emails or your bank account over your shoulder. Better, according to the American manufacturer, this beautiful small portable would be able to hold until 11:30 am on battery.
After a few days with the Envy 13, we can only recommend it to you, despite small reservations on its screen. Here is our opinion, reviews in support.
A superb 100% metallic case, with a flawless finish
The Envy 13 immediately seduces with the look of its aluminum housing. Very sober, the silver gray shell is simply raised, on top, by the HP logo. With its 14.7 millimeters thick, the Envy 13 is one of the thinnest ultraportables on the market and its finish is simply perfect, without the slighreview play in adjusting the parts or at the hinges of the ‘screen.
Above the keyboard and under the machine, two large ventilation openings were made in the metal shell to optimize the internal ventilation system. This, as we will see below, is very effective. We also like the small angle iron added to the upper part of the case, which slightly raises the keyboard when the laptop is open.
A correct socket set for an ultraportable
Despite its compact size, the Envy 13 has a suitable socket set, ready to accommodate various old and new generation peripherals. There are thus 2 USB-3 type A sockets, a USB-C connector, an SD card reader and a headphone output in jack format.
Unsurprisingly, like most recent ultraportables, the Ethernet network jack is missing. If like us, you find it hard to do without very high speed connections, you will have to go through a USB-C / Gigabit Ethernet adapter, not supplied with the machine (from around 20 euros). The HP is fortunately well equipped for wireless communications, with a high-end Wifi ac / n module signed Intel (Wireless-AC 9560) and Bluetooth 5.
On the left are aligned the headphone socket, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 socket (5 Gbits / s, data transfers only) and the single USB-C connector (Gen 1, DisplayPort 1.2 compatible and usable for data transfers and charging ).
On the right side, there is the second USB 3 type A socket (data transfer and charging) and the microSD reader. Right next to the latter in the image above, the small slide switch is used to activate or deactivate the screen webcam. No need to mask the camera with tape to avoid filming yourself – or being filmed – inadvertently.
On the other hand, this is a bad point for the mains charger, a proprietary model fitted with an “old” jack plug. We hope for a USB-C charger on the 2020 edition of the Envy 13.
Screen: Mirror, my beautiful mirror…
For display, HP uses a 13.3-inch IPS panel in Full-HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), protected with glass Gorilla Glass. This slab with fine edges and surmounted by a small webcam, is not tactile, but it benefits from a special function, called HP Sure View, designed to improve the confidentiality of data.
Designed in partnership with 3M, Sure view is a filter integrated into the screen that greatly reduces its viewing angles. When activated – by pressing the F1 key on the keyboard – the image is visible only to the person standing directly in front of the screen. Viewed from above or from the side, the screen becomes completely gray, impossible to read. Very efficient, the system is perfect for quietly reading your emails, in a cafe or on the train, away from prying eyes.
The trouble is that this filter, when activated, significantly reduces the display quality, even for its legitimate user: it causes a significant drop in brightness and loss of screen clarity, which seems covered with a light gray veil. Another problem, and more annoying, the Envy 13 panel is so bright, with or without filter Sure view, that it turns all too easily into a mirror. Too bad, because the slab is also quite bright (764 cd / m²) and well contrasted (1212: 1).
A very good keyboard, nice and solid
If the screen of the Envy 13 disappoints us a little, the keyboard turns out to be really good. The short stroke keys provide a pleasant, firm and precise touch. Most of those widely used are well sized, even for large hands, with a few exceptions. The Enter key, above all, deserves to be a little wider, and the two arrow keys “Up” and “Down” are, themselves, frankly too small.
Under the set of keys, the touchpad also responds very well under the index and of course manages commands with several fingers, to zoom in on a document for example. We just regret that the right and left click buttons are a bit stiff.
On the right palm rest, a small fingerprint reader allows you to unlock a Windows session without having to enter your password each time. Activated in a few minutes, the sensor proves to be reliable and very reactive. Namely, the camera placed above the screen is not compatible with Microsoft’s Windows Hello biometric identification system.
A surprisingly efficient engine, except in 3D
We are very pleasantly surprised by the level of performance of this “little” Envy 13, which has nothing, on paper, of a lightning of war. HP has indeed retained a “small” Intel processor with 4 cores of eighth generation, a Core i5-8265U, with 8 GB of DDR 4 RAM and a 512 GB SSD module signed Toshiba for storage.
With this rather modest engine, the Envy 13 does as well, if not better than some machines equipped with Core i7-8565U, in principle more powerful. Under PCMark 10, our benchmark for office automation and multimedia, the new Envy 13 thus surpasses the very good ZenBook 13 from Asus and is practically on par with the recent Swift 5 from Acer or the Specter X360 from … HP.
If it is rather better than its direct competitors for common tasks – Internet browsing, text editing, image editing … -, the Envy 13 still does not work miracles in 3D. Its video circuit integrated with the Intel processor (UHD 620) is not capable of correctly animating large recent games. That said, it does the trick for good 2D titles like the excellent Stardew Valley, for example, or Civilization 5.
Discreet and efficient ventilation
The good little engine of the HP has the good taste to operate almost without noise and without overheating. When the workload is very low – at rest in Windows or while reading a web page, the machine is actually completely inaudible. At full speed, the noise of the internal ventilation does not exceed 33.5 dB, which corresponds to a slight breath, quite bearable even in a very quiet room.
This very discreet ventilation – and obviously very well thought out – is also effective on the cooling side. During our reviews, the temperature of our review model barely exceeded 39 ° C under the case against almost 52 ° C for the Swift 5 from Acer mentioned above!
Battery: up to 8.45 hours of versatile autonomy
The 2019 version of the Envy 13 is equipped with a Lithium-Ion polymer battery of 53 watts / hour (4 cells) which supports fast charging. It can recover 50% of its maximum charge in just 45 minutes … but it takes 2 h 14 min, according to our reviews, for a full recharge.
HP announces up to 11:30 a.m. of battery life for its machine, based on Bapco’s MobileMark 2014 review software.
With our own review method, we obtained lower results, but all the same very correct for a 13 inch ultraportable: 8 h 45 for our “versatile” autonomy review (Internet surfing, office automation, display of photos and videos…) and 8 hours in video streaming. It’s almost an hour more than the Swift 5 from Acer that we presented to you last May (7 h 52 min) but still very far from the autonomy of the last XPS 13 from Dell (12 h 23 min) or Asus ZenBook 13 (10 h 9 min).