HP has recently began upgrading the ENVY series to better align the technology up to modern standards. The all-new HP ENVY 13-ab016nr notebook is a finely crafted device and a healthy competitor to Dell’s XPS, ASUS’ ZenBook and Acer’s Swift series.
The model I’m reviewing today comes with a price tag of $800 (as of 11/2/2016). Although it’s definitely not what you’d call affordable, the ENVY does have some great features under the lid. True competition is likely to come from the ASUS UX330UA ultrabook. And price-wise, the two are equally attractive.
Timeless and minimalist, the design choices bring to light certain features this laptop has to show. One of the first things I noticed was the slimness. Measuring just 0.6 inches thick, it’s one of the most thin ultrabooks on the market.
Also, the all-metal body features an extra wide glass track-pad and a lifted hinge. Upon raising the lid, this hinge will gently push against the sitting surface and slightly raise the back of the notebook. This, in turn, will make typing more comfortable.
The HP ENVY 13-ab016nr is powered by a 7th generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor. This dual core 2.5GHz CPU can ramp up its working frequency up to 3.1 GHz and has 3 megabytes of SmartCache. It’s an ideal processor to have in a mid-range laptop or ultrabook. Why? It’s versatile, doesn’t consume much power and has endured the test of time trough successive iterations.
It’s a really good choice for photographers, designers, programmers, engineers and so on. And of course, it will obviously work just as well when used for daily tasks.
The default amount of system memory the HP ENVY 13-ab016nr comes with is 8 gigabytes on on-board LPDDR3 SDRAM. Unlike other modern ultrabooks, HP have decided to keep using DDR3 in the detriment of DDR4. I don’t think that’s necessarily a deal breaker, because, as we’ll see later, it fully makes up for this minor drawback.
Also, as is the case with almost all ultraboks, the memory is soldered to the mother board, meaning it’s not possible to upgrade or replace the memory sticks. Still, 8 gigabytes will be more than enough, even for power users.
Storage space is limited to 256 gigabytes on a NVMe M.2 solid state drive. This amount has recently become the new standard among ultrabooks. The blazing fast SATA3 SSD will aid the CPU and RAM to make the system more snappy and responsive, as it will boot up Windows 10 in a couple of seconds. An external hard drive is advisable, especially for people who entertain the idea of larger media or file collections.
Graphics and display
The graphics department features an integrated video card: the all-new Intel HD Graphics 620. It would have been marginally better for the HP to sport DDR4 RAM, but alas. Gaming on ENVY is possible, yet limited. You’ll be able to play Overwatch on medium settings, FIFA on medium to high settings, but games such as “The Witcher 3” will be literally unplayable.
Display quality is indeed, impressive. The HP ENVY 13-ab016nr has a 13.3 inch FHD UWVA (ultra wide viewing angle) eDP BrightView LED-backlit display. You’ll be able to work even in sunshine conditions thanks to the increased panel brightness and UWVA technology.
Interface and networking options
Interface options feature a limited, yet very modern range of ports. The star here is the new reversible USB-C port:
- 1 x USB-C port
- 2 x USB 3.1 ports (one with Sleep and Charge)
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x COMBO audio jack
- 1 x microSD card reader
As for networking, it comes with the latest “802.11/ac” protocol, alongside dual band technology (2.4GHz and 5.0GHz).
- 2×2 802.11ac WLAN
- Bluetooth 4.1
Portability and battery life
Compared to the featherweight XPS, the HP ENVY 13-ab016nr seems to be unnecessarily heavy. It’s not so much in absolute terms, weighing just 3.3 pounds, but relative to albeit more expensive options, it comes around as a bit…overweight. It’s still a compact notebook. Being just .6″ slim, it will slide right in your backpack or bag.
Now, for the real shocker. The HP’s battery life surpasses Dell’s lighter XPS I mentioned earlier. If that extra weight has been used to bring forward a more powerful battery pack, I think it may have been worth it. The 3-cell, 58 Whr battery will power the HP ENVY 13-ab016nr for up to 14 hours straight. That’s almost two days worth of work. It’s immense, even for an $800 device. So yeah, this is where the lack of DDR4 and the slightly weighed down body don’t matter as much anymore.
All in all, I think the HP ENVY 13-ab016nr is a solid contender to today’s popular mid-range ultrabooks. With almost identical specs as other models, great display, modern interface and networking options and a thoroughly liberating battery life, this notebook has to potential to become a real favorite in the eyes of users who are on the lookout for a light, fast, aesthetic and ultra-portable device.
Travelers, digital nomads, traveling professionals and students will be the ones most excited by the ENVY’s impressive specs and design.