At just 2.2 pounds, the Pavilion Aero is HP’s lightest consumer laptop. It’s built with recycled materials and comes in some fun colors too. And though it’s far more affordable than the PCs I usually review, the Aero brings some premium features to a more mainstream market.
That’s great news, obviously. But at a higher level, I also like the Aero is true to the entire point of the personal computing revolution, which was, and still is, about taking new technology out of the hands of the digerati and giving it to the unwashed masses. From Microsoft to the hardware and software makers that rallied around the PC standard, this has always been the mantra.
In this case, what we get is an astonishing combination of light weight, a modern and pleasant design, and affordability. The HP Pavilion Aero can be had in Warm Gold, Ceramic White, Pale Rose Gold, or Natural Silver, and all models ship with a 13.3-inch IPS display with anti-glare coating and 400 nits of brightness. You can choose between Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) and WQXGA+ (2560 x 1600) resolutions.
The Aero starts at just $749. But that entry-level price doesn’t saddle you with entry-level components. Instead, buyers will receive an AMD Ryzen 5 5600U processor with AMD Graphics, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of fast NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD storage, and the Full HD+ display, in your color choice.
Upgrades are cheap, too. That WQXGA+ display is a $30 option, and you can upgrade to a faster Ryzen 7 5800U processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB or 1 TB of storage at reasonable costs. The review unit, which sadly comes in bland Natural Gray, has a Ryzen 7 5800U processor, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, and the Full HD+ display, and this configuration would set you back under $1000.
All Aeros come with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, a wrist rest-mounted fingerprint reader, and the port selection is decent: You’ll find a full-sized HDMI port, a full-sized USB-A port, and a USB-C port on the left, along with a combo audio jack. And then a barrel-style power port and another full-sized USB-A port on the right.
A quick word about all that. As an AMD Ryzen-based PC, the Aero can’t support Thunderbolt 4, but that’s probably fine for this market segment. And while I’m not usually a fan of proprietary power ports, using one here at least frees up the USB-C port for other uses. (That said, replacing the proprietary port with a second USB-C port would have done the same.) I do like that the power port is as far back as possible on the right side.
The keyboard is full-sized and appears very similar to that on recent HP Envy PCs, with capital letters on the keys, an integrated power key, and, get this, that extra column on the right with Home, PgUp, PgDn, and End, keys.
I love that layout, but I’ve only seen it on 14-inch PCs so far. This is the first time I’ve seen it on a 13-inch design. (And while I could be missing something, I don’t see a way to enable keyboard backlighting. I will look into that.)
Anyone familiar with HP’s premium PCs will see some familial similarities here, from the general design to the very slim bezels to the high-quality magnesium-aluminum chassis. It’s a handsome machine, though, again, I’d have preferred one of the more colorful versions.
From a software perspective, HP is up to its familiar tricks, with a lot of bloatware and some outright crapware, including McAfee, Utomik (“Play over 100 games”), and WildTangent Games. But at least at this price, you can justify the 10 or 15 minutes it will take to nuke it all forever.
I’m looking forward to this one. It’s been too long since I last reviewed an affordable PC, and this one is particularly compelling.