HP Pavilion Aero First Impressions

Posted on July 29, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Uncategorized with 11 Comments

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.

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (11)

11 responses to “HP Pavilion Aero First Impressions”

  1. jaylesh27

    I'm looking forward to your review on this one...going by the specs it seems to hit all the right marks at a great price point. Really curious about battery life.

  2. brisonharvey

    This one struck me as a particularly well-positioned device in the upper mid-range, MacBook Air-tier Windows device. Can't wait to get more of your thoughts on this one.

  3. bob25

    Too good to be true... I didn't see an option for a touch screen at the HP site. Otherwise, I would have been sold on this one.

    • cnc123

      Yep. Really good deal, but even better with a touch screen option.

    • markld

      I do love my touchscreen on my laptop. It's a deal breaker for me with laptops especially now that for last 5 years it's been that way.

      I just difficult for me to use a laptop without a touch screen (unlike my desktop with a mouse, I never catch myself touching the screen).

  4. jjdiebolt

    I look forward to it as well. It actually caught my eye while looking for a new notebook and its on my short list. Hopefully they have the hardware requirements for Windows 11. I spoke to a rep at Dell who informed me a particular line of laptop/notebooks did not include TPM 2.0, which was 'geared more for their business line". Before long, "Windows 11 Ready" machines will be out there, until then I've to root around to see if it has a TPM 2.0. I don't trust Amazon to include it in their specs and a lot of their notebooks have been 'upgraded' by a third party. I'll have to check the specs on this one, after your review of course. It looks promising, but I don't want a new machine which won't run Windows 11. Too much uncertainty and confusion out there. The MSFT AMA debacle didn't help either. Thanks for doing these reviews, Paul.

  5. JH_Radio

    Yep Paul, this! I'm looking forward to this one as much as the rest. not so much because I need or will buy a laptop right now, but because I'm just curious of your thoughts on these things. Even a screen reader user could get the base model, and something like this would serve him or her greatly for years to come! 256GB/8GB/I5/AMD5 is about as low as I'd suggest personally for someone who uses access tech like that. Things like how fast the keys speak when pressed matter, and you get lower than that and that starts to be affected. Even the 3rd gen I5 works well enough for this on my First gen Surface pro, the bottleneck in that case is the only 4GB of ram. With JAWS and Windows 10 running and no other apps running I've already got at least half the ram taken up. closer to 3GB. Although its only runnin at 11 to 14% of the processor , but still. But that wasn't a PC I baught for myself, it was handed down to me.

  6. bluvg

    "the unwashed masses"

    Hey, that cuts a little close to home during the pandemic! Looks like a great machine for the price, especially after the eye-watering pricing from your review of the Elite Dragonfly. Looking forward to the review!

  7. brettscoast

    Now this looks a premium laptop at an affordable price. Look forward to your full review.

  8. RobertJasiek

    Nowadays, there are incredibly many mobile devices, for which I decide within 1 second not to buy them because of notch, camera bump, large display ratio, mirroring display or smaller than normal arrow keys. This notebook has an overall nice design but I immediately disregard it due to the tiny arrow keys (which could have been avoided the most easily by shortening the right SHIFT key; BTW, I tend to use the left SHIFT key anyway even if it is short), the strongly mirroring display (misleadingly advertised as "anti-glare", thanks for the very meaningful picture) and the too large 16:10 display ratio (3:2 is the maximum I can barely tolerate).

  9. Craig Hinners

    Sees dedicated Home/Up/Down/End key column: ?

    Excitedly reads on … sees proprietary, non-USB-C power adapter: ?

    Apparently the latter is now a differentiator for what makes “affordable class”, affordable class.