HP Envy x360 13 (2020) First Impressions

Posted on June 25, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 10 Comments

Powered by the AMD Ryzen 4000 series processor with Radeon graphics, the HP Envy x360 13 should deliver impressive performance and portability. I assume many of you are as curious as I am how AMD’s latest mobile processors will fare in the real world.

At first glance, I could tell that this was my kind of PC, thanks to its unique, dark, and minimalist design. HP calls this color Nightfall Black, and I think it looks fantastic.

Plucking the Envy out of its packaging, however, I noted that it was a bit heavier than expected given its smallish form factor. And sure enough, it is a bit on the heavy side at 2.91 pounds. As I’ve noted of some premium devices in the past, however, this heaviness lends an air of quality, and anything under 3 pounds is still very portable.

Aside from the color, the first big surprise is the available expansion ports.

With the rest of the market careening wildly towards USB-C, HP is bucking the trends here with two full-sized USB 3.1 Gen1 ports and just a single USB-C port (with no Thunderbolt 3), plus a microSD card slot, headphone/microphone combo jack, and a proprietary power adapter port (which attaches to a standard 65-watt HP premium power supply and cables).

That power port means that the USB-C port will never have to do double duty.

Opening the display lid, you’ll find what looks like yet another excellent HP keyboard, but this one comes with some interesting twists.

First, in addition to the standard function key functions, you’ll find a few unique keys for the HP Command Center, which provides power management customizations, muting the microphone, and shuttering the camera. There’s also a power button in the function key row, which is a bit unusual in 360 devices, where the power button is often found on the side somewhere. I prefer the Envy approach.

But the most unique feature of this keyboard is the location of the fingerprint reader, which is to the right of the rightmost ALT key, where one might usually find a little-used key that mimics a right-click. This is an excellent location for the fingerprint reader, though it will take a bit of getting-used-to, at least visually.

The touchpad is glass, and what I’d call right-sized—I don’t like the ginormous pads that are becoming the norm these days—and, yes, it’s a precision touchpad that is managed entirely in Windows 10 Settings. HP adopted this platform a bit late, but I appreciate that it’s all-in now.

The display is 13.3-inches and it is, as HP notes, basically housed in an almost-11-inch form factor, so it has reasonably small bezels. Yes, compared to some modern premium portables, the bezels aren’t all that impressive in their smallness, but compared to the Envy’s predecessor, they are: The top bezel is 24 percent smaller than before and the device’s screen-to-body ratio is 88 percent, up from 79 percent in the 2019 version.

As for the display itself, Full HD is the only option, and that’s fine for this display size. The panel is a multi-touch and HP Pen-compatible IPS unit with BrightView and WLED-backlighting, and it’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass NBT. It’s rated at 300 nits of brightness, which seems a bit low on paper, but it appears to get quite bright in person.

Of the most interest here, of course, are the Envy’s innards. You can purchase an Envy x360 13 with your choice of an AMD Ryzen 3-4300U, 5-4500U, or 7-4700U processor, and each is coupled with AMD Radeon graphics. The review unit ships with the middle processor choice, which is a 15-watt part with 6 processor cores and a base clock speed of 2.3 GHz. I am eager to see how this compares to Intel’s current chipset and assume that the Ryzen 4000 series generally aligns with the Core-i3, i5, and i7 U-series processors, given the branding.

The review unit has 8 GB of RAM, which is the minimum, but HP sells versions with 16 GB of RAM as well. And it comes with a 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, which is excellent. HP offers up to 1 TB of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage if you need it.

Connectivity is as expected, with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 capabilities. There is no cellular data option to my knowledge.

The best part might be the price, at least for the review unit: This configuration is just $799.99 from HP.com and at Costco. You can also purchase an AMD Ryzen 3-4300U model (with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage) for just $699.99. And there are more expensive models, of course. Versions with a Ryzen 7-4700U start at $1039.99 (with 8 GB/512 GB), and a high-end 16 GB/1 TB configuration goes for $1389.99.

More soon.

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