HP announced a slew of updates to its Envy laptop line today, in addition to a mildly revamped Spectre x2. Many of these changes focus on elevating overall design, but in a practical way that doesn’t impede the power and efficiency of each device. Slimmer bezels, bold edges, and USB Type-C abound, giving way to a more modern-looking Envy family and Spectre x2.
Envy’s new edges
Envy laptops and convertibles are getting welcome improvements: in particular, the Envy 13 looks quite different now than when Ars’ Andrew Cunningham reviewed it last year. The most striking difference is the hinge, which now sports a shiny, sharp edge branded with the Envy name. Compared to the previous model’s rounded hinge, this looks and feels more premium, and it still lifts the laptop slightly off its surface to allow better airflow.
Although it maintains that lift-hinge and tapered design, the new Envy 13 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, measuring .55-inches thick and weighing 2.7 pounds. Combine its new edginess with its all-metal construction and you have a laptop that appears better positioned to take on devices like the Dell XPS 13.
The side bezels hugging the Envy 13’s display are smaller now as well, measuring just 5.5mm. While the top bezel isn’t quite that thin, HP still managed to put the webcam at its ideal location right above the display. The two top speakers have a new home at the top of the keyboard, close to the hinge, rather than on either side of the keys as in the previous model. This let HP extend the keys to nearly the full width of the keyboard deck, giving the 13 the appearance of a larger keyboard on a smaller frame. Many PC companies are going with this keyboard deck layout now, and it seems to be a better use of space, particularly on Ultrabooks like the Envy 13.
HP added USB Type-C to this Envy 13, which is a much-needed update considering the previous model only has USB 3.0 ports. The new Envy 13 has two USB Type-C ports that support data transfer up to 5Gb/s, DisplayPort 1.2, and HP Sleep and Charge, and the device still squeezes in two USB 3.1 ports. The laptop’s internals have been subtly upgraded, too: now it has a dual-core Core i7 CPU, Intel HD 620 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB PCIe SSD.
The 17-inch Envy laptop also got the same new design treatment plus a few new internals. Now you can choose between an FHD or 4K display, and it supports dual drives as well. However, the Envy x360 15 is a slightly different story: it doesn’t have the newfound edginess of its laptop counterparts since it has to rotate 360 degrees, but HP did update its design as well. The new model has narrower bezels on the sides and top of its FHD IPS display, and now the 15-inch convertible supports inking so you can use a stylus to write notes with Windows Ink and other apps. HP also added Intel and AMD processor support so you can choose which you prefer for this two-in-one; it supports up to Intel Core i5 CPUs and AMD FX 9800P APUs.
Spectre’s updated kick
The second-generation Spectre x2 shows small improvements in both design and internals. The most notable visual differences are the elimination of the kickstand latch and the inclusion of a thumb notch. Instead of pressing the latch down to unlock the kickstand to put the device in laptop mode, now you can simply push the kickstand out on your own and adjust the angle to your liking. This is a less fussy way to maneuver the device and a welcome design change that makes using a convertible like this more convenient.
At 7.7mm, the new Spectre x2 is also slightly thinner than the previous model, and now the included keyboard dock has a plastic back instead of a fabric one to make cleaning easier. Instead of the FHD display the device originally had, this new model has a 12.3-inch, 3000×2000-pixel IPS WLED display that supports Windows Ink. As far as internals go, HP updated the x2 to support up to Core i7 processors, moving away from the low-power Core M CPUs in the original model. It’ll also have 8GB of RAM onboard, a 360GB PCIe SSD, and Intel Iris Plus 650 graphics.
According to HP’s estimates, the new x2 will get up to eight hours of battery life with mixed use, meaning the higher-powered processor won’t affect the device’s battery life. The previous, Core M-powered Spectre x2 lasted about seven hours in our testing, so we’ll have to test the new model fully to see if that claim holds up.
The HP Spectre x2 will be available in June starting at $999. The Envy 13 and Envy x360 15 will also be available in June starting at $1,049 and $899, respectively. The Envy 17 is available now on HP’s website starting at $999.