Display, Keyboard & Trackpad
The HP Envy 13 comes with two display options: one features a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD 1080p) and another is 3200 x 1800 (QHD+). Both are 13.3-inch white-LED-backlit IPS LCD panels without touchscreens, with pixel densities of 165 and 276 ppi respectively. For this review, I received an Envy 13 equipped with the cheaper 1080p option, although upgrading to QHD+ will only set you back $50.
I’ll start with the positives. The lack of a touchscreen has led to the display receiving a matte finish, which means fingerprints and reflections are a non-issue. It also helps the panel remain visible in most conditions, despite a relatively low maximum brightness of 280 nits, although don’t expect to do a whole lot of work in direct sunlight. Viewing angles are pretty decent as you’d expect from an IPS display.
Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end. The display itself is rather lacklustre from a color reproduction perspective. Accuracy isn’t great, falling well behind higher-end models such as the Dell XPS 13 and Microsoft Surface Book in saturation, greyscale and general accuracy tests. This isn’t the worst display I’ve ever seen, but even just looking at images reveals that something is ‘off’.
On top of that, HP has implemented some sort of dynamic display adjustment in the firmware, which shifts brightness and color reproduction depending on what is being displayed. I believe this is so the laptop can reduce white levels to save battery life, and as far as I can tell, there is no way to disable this feature. After even a short period of usage it’s somewhat obvious that color reproduction is being adjusted on the fly, and that just compounds issues with subpar accuracy and undersaturation.
I’m not sure how the QHD+ model fares in terms of accuracy, but it’s probably worth getting anyway simply because it only costs $50, and you get a significant increase in resolution and sharpness.
I was very impressed with the keyboard on the Envy 13. Typing is a breeze thanks to superb, clicky tactile feedback and excellent travel for a thin ultraportable, as well as adequate key size and spacing. The layout is great, with no important keys getting truncated, and there’s a good range of system functions that can be easily modified through the top row of keys. The only downside would be smaller than average up and down arrow keys.
The trackpad on the Envy is decent without being outstanding. The Synaptics unit is responsive and generally smooth to use, with good detection of gestures like scrolling and zooming. Right clicking is a little tricky on this laptop due to a weak physical click mechanism, but left-clicking is fine as you can simply tap on the trackpad with ease.