The HP Envy x360 this year is a huge deal.
The Envy line was HP’s midrange offering. It’s a rung above HP’s budget Pavilion but a rung below HP’s flagship Spectre. The new model, priced at $699, blurs that line. This laptop is easily the most affordable under $1,000. The 2020 Envy x360 looks and performs as well as the Spectre x360 last year (which starts at $1099). It also feels very similar to HP’s $1500 Elite Dragonfly, which is one of the most popular business notebooks.
Its processor is a big part of it. There are a variety of AMD Ryzen 4000 chips available for the new Envy. The Ryzen 5-4500U was my review unit, which cost $799 and includes 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. It also has Wi-Fi 6 (and Bluetooth 5.0).
Although the six-core 4500U is designed to compete with Intel’s U series Core i5, its performance is comparable to an i7. It is fast. It was seamless throughout my streaming and everyday browsing, as well my heavy office work load that included around a dozen apps, Chrome tabs and Zoom calls with occasional downloads, zoom calls, editing photos and copying files.
|Good Stuff||Bad Stuff|
|Sturdy and compact||Thunderbolt 3 and HDMI are not supported|
|Good keyboard||My 16:9 screen is my bane|
|Integrated graphics with strong gaming performance||Some bloatware is available|
|Battery life all day|
AMD’s integrated Radeon graphics are even more impressive and can handle some gaming. Overwatch ran at 1080p at an average speed of 70fps (medium) and 62fps (high). Both were very playable. The keyboard was a little too hot though. These results are comparable with what you would expect from a discrete GPU of lower power, such as a 10W GeForceMX150. This is a great tool for integrated graphics.
Unfortunately, the system was not optimized for video editing. Adobe Premiere Pro crashed every time I tried to export our routine video test, which involves exporting a 5-minute, 33-second 4K movie. It took me an hour and fifteen minutes to disable Premiere’s hardware acceleration and rely solely on the software. Don’t buy Premiere Pro if you don’t need it for video on-the-go.
It’s not the Envy’s chips that make the difference; it’s the combination chip-chassis. For the past few decades, AMD processors have been primarily used in budget and mid-range laptops. It is rare to find an AMD processor in a premium option, such as the Thinkpad Carbon, HP Spectre or Acer Swift 5. This laptop is unique because it combines the Ryzen 4500U and a premium design that feels and looks great.
This Envy is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. This model is sleeker and more stylish than the last year’s model. The display is a big factor in this: the 2020 Envy boasts an 88% screen-to-body ratio compared to the 79 percent of last year’s model. The top bezel has been reduced by 24 percent. Although HP hasn’t completely eliminated its bottom bezel, as Dell did almost with the XPS 13, it has shaved more than 13mm. HP was able to squeeze a 13-inch display in a smaller footprint. The chassis measures 17mm less.
In the past few years, HP’s midrange laptops have been outstanding displays. This Envy is no exception. Although the display is not as sharp as the Spectre’s 13-inch 1080p display, it is still better than what I would expect for an $850 device.
HP offers a variety of 300-, 400-, and 1000-nit options. All have 1080p resolution. The brightest option is best if you intend to work outside, but the 400-nit version which I tested was just right for indoor use. The colors are vibrant and the details are clear. I also never experienced any glare despite the glossy panel’s texture. It supports HP’s MPP2.0 pen. However, there is no storage space on the laptop to store it. It is a 16-inch screen. This means that you will not have the same vertical space for document work and web browsing as a 16-10 machine such as the Dell XPS 13, or a 3 to2 laptop such as the Surface Book 3. This is the only thing I have to complain about this display.
Although the Envy 13-inch laptop weighs in at 2.9 lbs, it is quite light. I would not want to be able to hold it with one hand and use it as a tablet for extended periods of time. However, it is well-built and strong. The screen and deck are rigid and there is almost no flex. The aluminum chassis looks professional and polished. It feels more like holding a Dragonfly than other midrange models. The hinge is loose. I found that the Envy would sometimes slip into tablet mode when it was tilted back. This is not a major problem.
Hotkeys have been added to the keyboard by the company. The microphone and webcam have kill switches. F1 opens Windows 10 online support. F4 toggles keyboard backlighting. F12 brings up the HP Command Center, where you can adjust Envy’s temperature profile. More details later. It’s not an easy task — I accidentally bricked my mic a few times. But each key has an LED indicator that helps you track which keys are on and off.
The keys are quiet and firm, but have a comfortable and smooth texture. It is a great keyboard. It’s almost like using a Dragonfly keyboard, even though it may sound a bit blatant.
There are three ports: a microSD slot (two USB-A), two USB-C, and one Thunderbolt 3. These ultra-thin laptops often lack USB-A ports. However, HP has managed to fit them in using trapdoor hinges that cover half of the laptop’s bottom. This selection is great because many people still have older USB-A peripherals. Given the absence of Thunderbolt and HDMI, HDMI would be on my wishlist.
The Envy includes stereo speakers and a Bang & Olufsen control center. You can switch between presets Music, Movie, Voice, and Equalizer settings to play different songs. I was happy with the sound quality of the speakers, which are good for laptop speakers. Even Zoom calls were a little quieter thanks to the Voice profile.
The Envy was warm, but not too hot, as I mentioned previously. It was only uncomfortable when gaming. You can adjust the thermal profile in HP’s Command Center. You can choose from HP’s Recommended presets, Comfort (to keep things cool), or Quiet (to keep fans down). For my daily tasks, I used HP’s Recommended setting. While I could hear the fan’s hum from a distance, it was not audible. They are quite loud on Performance, so you will want to use that setting for best gaming results.
Agree To Continue: HP ENVY X360 (2021).
Each smart device requires that you agree to certain terms and conditions before it can be used. These are contracts that nobody actually reads. We are unable to review and analyze all of these agreements. We started to count how many times we had to click “agree” in order to use the devices. These are agreements that most people don’t read and can’t negotiate.
You must agree to these terms in order to use the HP Envy x360.
- Request for your region
- Request for your keyboard layout
- McAfee, HP and Windows license agreements
You can also answer the following questions yes or no:
- Microsoft account (cannot be bypassed if your stay offline).
- Windows Hello fingerprint recognition
- Privacy settings (speech Recognition, location, Find My Device sharing diagnostic data, typing, inking, and tailored experience, Advertising ID)
- Activity history
- Sync your Android phone
- OneDrive Backup
- Office 365
- Send contact information to HP
- HP may use the information you provide to improve customer service, send personalized offers, and to send out news and updates.