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Review: HP Envy 13-ab015tu ultraportable laptop
by Bennett Ring | May 17, 2017 | Comment Now
Best Value
Review: HP Envy 13-ab015tu ultraportable laptop

"We’re mightily impressed with this entry-level ultraportable. Not only is it built well and looks great, the immaculate screen is even better than many machines twice the price."

$1699 AUD *

> Pricing info

13.3-inch 3200 x 1800 IPS touchscreen panel • Intel 7th Generation Core i5 7200U • 8GB DDR3 • 256GB M.2 SSD • 1.48kg•
* Price at time of review
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Ultralight… on the bank account!

We've reviewed a lot of laptops recently (and you'll see more reviews in the coming days), and most of them are not exactly on the cheap end of the scale, which is why the price of this Envy 13 is so surprising. We tested all of these machines without knowing their prices, so to discover it was around half the price of the competition was a very pleasant surprise. 

This budget price is definitely not apparent from the build quality. It appears to be built from brushed aluminium, with a very sleek design The screen isn’t quite as nice as the others though, as it does feature a rather large border rather than the edge-less designs seen elsewhere. Our version came with a touchscreen IPS panel, and is equal to those of much more expensive machines. In fact, we had to do a double take when we realised the 13.3in panel was full 3200 x 1800 resolution, beating that of many machines that are much more expensive. However, it’s not convertible, so you’re stuck using this PC in laptop mode. 

The keyboard has the tiniest of flex, but it’s also backlit – a nice bonus at this price. The touchpad was a joy to use, lacking the overly accurate, glassy feel we’ve seen in some competitors. The entire laptop is a little bit heavier than the rest, though not by much, tipping the scales at 1.48kg. Yet it’s extremely thin, at just 139mm. Despite this, HP has managed to cram a stack of I/O options into the sides. There’s a single HDMI out, mic/headphone combo as well as twin USB 3.1 Type A and one USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 port. Network connectivity is courtesy of Intel’s 802.11ac 2x2 chipset, as well as Bluetooth 4.2. 

Cortana will be happy to hear that HP has included a dual array microphone, ensuring proper support for Windows 10’s voice recognition technology. Just above the screen is a small HD camera which we found delivered a nice crisp image, and was able to handle changes in the room’s brightness quickly, automatically adjusting to suit the lighting conditions. Twin Harmon Kardon speakers adorn each side of the keyboard; while they’re loud enough for presenting in a small room, they’re rather tinny and prone to distortion at the highest volume. 

So how has HP managed to keep the price of the Envy 13 so low? To put it simply, the main cut-backs have been made under the hood. Powering it all is Intel’s 7th Generation Core i5 7200U. This twin-cored chip is endowed with HyperThreading, and hits a maximum Turbo speed of 3.1GHz. HP has paired this with 8GB of LPDDR3-1866MHz SDRAM, which is the bare minimum we expect these days. Obviously there’s no discrete GPU in a machine of this price nor size, instead relying upon the CPU’s Intel HD Graphics 620.

Thankfully the inclusion of a 256GB M.2 SSD helps to keep the machine’s overall performance snappy and responsive. It may have taken out the bottom spot in our overall test results, but in day to day use it’s perfectly responsive. Battery life is also excellent, basically on par with its competitors, ensuring a full day of use between charges. The SSD isn’t exactly huge, but there’s also a microSD card reader if you want to do a cheap upgrade of the storage. 

We’re mightily impressed with this entry-level ultraportable. Not only is it built well and looks great, the immaculate screen is even better than many machines twice the price. The interior hardware mightn’t be top-notch, but it’s enough for most day-to-day users who don’t need incredible performance nor reams of storage. 

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