The Asus Zenbook UX305C and Dell XPS 13 are two of our favourite thin-and-light laptops right now, the former because it represents a good value at £600 and the latter because it’s a slick, lightweight machine with plenty of high-end features.
But there’s some room in between those two, and that’s where HP’s Envy 13 comes in. The £700 model includes many of the same specs as the ZenBook we like but throws in a backlit keyboard and full-fledged Core i5 and i7 CPUs. There are a few things about it that keep it from unseating our favourites, but it still offers some appealing features for people unhappy with a few of the UX305C’s tradeoffs.
The Envy 13 is another Ultrabook in the post-MacBook Air mould, so you should already know what you’re getting into: thin and light with respectable but not groundbreaking computing power and few—if any—upgradeable parts.Sony VGP-BPS13A/S Battery
Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and others all tend to work with a darker colour palette in their laptop designs (even Apple uses black keyboards), but the Envy is predominantly silver. With the exception of the display bezel, everything from the lid to the base to the palmrest to the keycaps are all made of uncoloured aluminium. The keys and the bezel are both plastic, but the rest of the computer is metal, and it manages to be impressively thin (0.5 inches at its thickest point) while still feeling sturdy.
It may be thin, but the laptop isn’t especially small when compared to the XPS 13. Its screen is bordered by a rather large bezel, roughly comparable to the one Asus is using. There’s a wide, mostly unused strip of space between the top of the keyboard and the bottom of the screen, but on the plus side there’s room for an upward-facing speaker on either side of the keyboard. These get fairly loud without much distortion, and, aside from the customary lack of bass, they actually don't sound half bad. Dell CF623 Battery
The 1080p IPS display panel in our base model review unit is also more...