HP Envy x360 13 2018

The HP Envy x360 2018 is a thin and light convertible laptop that features some of the latest mobile technology in a seriously svelte design.

While many flagship laptops come with Intel processors and graphics (or Nvidia graphics), the HP Envy x360 2018 is notable for having configurations that come with AMD hardware. The unit we have in for review features an AMD Ryzen 7 2700U processor and Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics.

The AMD variants are cheaper than the Intel-toting x360 configurations, and we commend HP for giving customers more choice. This year’s Envy x360 also comes with a thinner and lighter design.

Price and availability

The HP Envy x360 is a premium laptop with a price tag to match, and in the US it's available starting at $759.99 for the base model, which you can configure by adding more powerful components to suit your needs. For the configuration we’re reviewing, with an AMD Ryzen 7 2700U processor and Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics and 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage, the price is $1,1129.99.

In the UK, the Envy x360 goes for £999, and there’s no configurability, so you’re stuck with the specs of the model that we were sent for review. This may be disappointing for people who would rather tweak their machine to better suit their needs and budget.

In Australia the price is AU$1,599, and as in the UK you can’t change the configuration, but you can select preset configurations. The price quoted gets you an AMD Ryzen 3 2300U processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics.

The HP Envy x360’s closest competitor is the Lenovo Yoga 920, a slightly older laptop that offers a similar 2-in-1 convertible experience. At the time of its release, it cost $1,199 / £1,199 for the base configuration, and you can now get it for a bit cheaper if you shop around.

Design

As soon as you take the Envy x360 out of the box you can tell that HP has done an excellent job of crafting a gorgeous-looking laptop. The aluminum body feels robust and premium, with a minimalist design that suits this category of laptop well.

You certainly wouldn’t feel embarrassed to take this out of a briefcase in a meeting, or bringing it along to lectures at university. The 13-inch version of the HP Envy x360 comes in the Dark Ash Silver color, while the 15-inch version is available in a second color, Natural Silver. 

The lack of color options for the 13-inch version may disappoint, but we think it’s a nice color that suits the aesthetics of the device, and if we had a choice between Dark Ash Silver and Natural Silver, we’d still go for the former.

The 13-inch HP Envy x360 2018 weighs 1.3kg, and measures 14.9mm when closed. The bezels on each side of the screen (called ’micro-edge’ by HP) are impressively thin, helping to shrink the overall footprint of the laptop while placing the screen front and center. It’s an impressively thin and light laptop, but it doesn’t feel insubstantial; in fact, it feels robust thanks to the reinforced metal body, while Corning Gorilla Glass protects the screen.

Despite the thinness of the HP Envy x360 2018 it still features a decent number of ports. On the left-hand side there’s a full-size USB port, headphone jack, power button and microSD card slot. On the right there’s the power port, USB-C port and volume rocker.

The inclusion of full-size USB ports will be welcome for anyone who still uses older USB devices and has been dismayed by other laptops, such as the MacBook and Dell XPS 13, only featuring USB-C. With the full-size USB ports of the HP Envy x360 2018, you don’t need to mess around with dongles for legacy devices.

However, we have been getting used to modern laptops charging via USB-C, something the HP Envy x360 2018 can't do, instead using an old-style power port. It’s not the biggest issue in the world, but it makes the HP Envy x360 2018 feel a little less cutting-edge.

The HP Envy x360 2018 is also a 2-in-1 device, with the two hinges connecting the screen to the keyboard (one of which is engraved with the word ‘Envy‘) allowing the device to be used in laptop mode, as well as tent mode, where the keyboard is bent backwards, turning the HP Envy x360 into an upside down ‘V’ shape, tablet mode and stand mode, where the keyboard is used as a stand, with the screen angled at 90 degrees. 

This gives the HP Envy x360 2018 a level of versatility that standard laptops lack, and the device is thin enough that when used in tablet mode it feels comfortable and intuitive.

Overall, the classy and slimline design of the HP Envy x360 2018 matches what we’ve come to expect from laptops in this price bracket. HP has done a very good job of creating an elegant laptop that you’d be happy to show off while you work.

Work and play

HP is keen to show that the HP Envy x360 2018 isn’t just a laptop for productivity, but also a formidable machine when it comes to entertainment. It features a Full HD IPS screen (with the aforementioned micro-edge bezels), which offers 178-degree viewing angles.

The display is a touchscreen, which makes it easy to use in tablet mode (which Windows 10 automatically detects when the HP Envy x360 is in tablet mode, and changes the screen orientation and layout for a better touchscreen experience), and the keyboard turns itself off, so you don’t accidentally type things in when using it as a tablet.

The quad speakers on the HP Envy x360 are custom-tuned by Bang & Olufsen, which HP claims will “awaken you senses with PC audio perfection”. While we’re not quite sure about “audio perfection”, the sound produced is pretty good, although it lacks depth when it comes to bass. It’s a step up from the small, tinny, speakers we’re used to in some laptops, but we were expecting to be more impressed.

As far as the keyboard goes, the keys are nice and large, but there's not much travel to them, which makes them feel a little insubstantial when typing (as opposed to keyboards with deeper key travel, which makes them feel more responsive).

The touchpad isn't the largest we've used, but it's big enough for most people, and it responds well to quick movements and gestures.

As we mentioned earlier, the HP Envy x360 2018 we tested featured AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700U processor and Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics, so we were keen to see how AMD’s hardware coped compared to Intel and Nvidia’s.

For day-to-day computing there's little difference, with the HP Envy x360 doing a pretty good job of running Windows 10 and most applications. However, it did take its time over certain tasks – for example, unzipping a compressed 80MB folder took quite a few minutes, where with other laptops the process would usually complete in a matter of seconds.

Performance issues would also sometimes affect media playback, with the speakers crackling during busy scenes in movies. The Cinebench CPU benchmark returned 611 points, which is a decent upgrade over the Lenovo Yoga 920’s 564, though it’s worth pointing out that the Yoga’s 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-855OU processor is dual-core, compared to the Ryzen 7 2700U, which is quad-core in this laptop.

However, the GeekBench CPU test results indicated that the HP Envy x360 2018’s CPU was weaker than the Yoga 920's in both single and multi-core tests, scoring 3,746 and 10,012 respectively, compared to the Yoga’s 4,677 and 14,123.

So, on a core-by-core basis, the 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-855OU of the Yoga outperforms the HP Envy x360 2018’s Ryzen 7 2700U, in certain tasks at least.

Real-world performance is good, but not outstanding, so you may want to check your expectations when using the HP Envy x360 2018. It’s not powerful enough for gaming, or heavy-duty work such as video editing, but for most other tasks it does the job well, although without excelling.

It’s rather frustrating that a laptop with such a nice design is let down in the performance department, but there is a silver lining. As we mentioned in the price and availability section of this review, if you're based in the US the HP Envy x360 is available in a number of configurations. Getting a configuration with an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM (compared to the 8GB of RAM our review sample came with) will ensure performance that’s worthy of the design.

However, if you’re on a budget and only want to use the HP Envy x360 for simple tasks, then the Ryzen version should be fine.

Battery life

The battery life of the HP Envy x360 is decent, but nothing exceptional. In the PCMark 8 Home Test, which replicates medium-to-high usage, the x360 lasted three hours and 29 minutes. This may seem quite disappointing, but it’s worth noting that this test involves video calls and other tasks that can drain the battery faster.

Meanwhile, in our TechRadar battery test, where we play a looped 1080p video with the screen at half brightness, the battery lasted 5 hours and 34 minutes. Not bad, if you just want to watch movies on long commutes, but far from the best battery life we've witnessed.

For more sedate day-to-day tasks, such as word processing and web browsing, you should see the HP Envy x360 last longer. In our real-world tests we found it to be a perfectly fine performer when it came to battery life, though you’ll want to bring the power adapter with you for top-ups throughout the day.

It’s also worth noting that the HP Envy x360 recharged its battery from empty to full in an impressively short time.

Final verdict

The HP Envy x360 is a gorgeously designed laptop that’s thin and light enough to comfortably carry around with you during the day. HP should be commended for making a very attractive 2-in-1 device.

It’s also good to see configurations with AMD hardware included, which gives potential buyers more choice. We did find that our HP Envy x360 with Ryzen 7 fell a little short of the performance we’ve come to expect from laptops in this price range; however, thanks to HP’s wide range of configurations for the Envy x360 – in the US at least – you can get an Intel-powered version that, while slightly more expensive, offers better performance.

Battery life isn’t the best we’ve seen, so if you’re looking for all-day computing you’ll want to look elsewhere, unless you want to carry a power cable with you.

Overall, the HP Envy x360 is a great 2-in-1 device that boasts a wonderful design, but is slightly underpowered in some configurations.



from TechRadar - Technology Reviews http://www.techradar.com/reviews/hp-envy-x360-13-2018