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HP Envy 13 Wood Series review: Walnut enhances a slender, capable laptop


The HP Envy 13 Wood Series is the company’s second foray into natural design flourishes—remember the leather-bound Spectre Folio? Now the company’s thin-and-light Envy 13 laptop has a Wood Series variant, featuring a walnut wood palm rest and touchpad.

While these details might seem frivolous to some, the finely textured wood panel makes for a surprisingly warm, yet practical touch in a laptop that (for the most part) nails the fundamentals. That said, the 4K display on this reasonably priced Envy model skimps on a key feature, and we also had some (non wood-related) touchpad issues.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

Configuration

HP is offering three pre-configured SKUs for its latest quad-core Envy 13 models. We’ve already reviewed the Envy 13 in its “regular” form. The good news is, the special Wood Series is available in the least-expensive SKU, which offers a 10th-gen Core i7-10510U Comet Lake CPU, a Full HD (1920×1080) IPS multi-touch display, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, 16GB of Optane Memory (good stuff!), and an $850 sticker price on HP.com (after a $200 discount). A step-up non-Wood model ($1,200 on HP.com) boasts the same internals save for a larger 512GB SSD and 32GB of Optane memory. The Wood Series model we’re reviewing ups the ante with a 10th-gen Core i7-1065G7 Ice Lake processor and a 4K display that (unfortunately) lacks multi-touch, for $1,300 (or $1,050 after discounts) on HP.com.

Let’s take a closer look at the specifications of our review model:

  • CPU: Quad-core 10th-gen Core i7-1065G7
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4-2400
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Plus
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Optane memory: 32GB
  • Display: 13.3-inch 4K IPS (400 nits, non-touch)
  • Wireless networking: Wi-Fi 5
  • Battery capacity: 52 watt-hour
  • Dimensions: 12.08 x 8.32 x 0.57 inches
  • Weight: 2.82 pounds

On paper, we’re looking at a thin, light, and reasonably powerful productivity workhorse, although a few corners have been cut to achieve that discounted $1,050 price tag.

On the plus side is the Envy 13’s U-series Core i7-1065G7 processor, which is Intel’s second-fastest Ice Lake CPU for laptops, plus a roomy 512GB SSD that gets a nice 32GB Optane Memory speed boost. The integrated Iris Plus graphics should rival the visuals of entry-level discrete graphics cards, while the bright (if power-hungry) 4K IPS display is always a welcome sight.

So far, so good, but this particular model of the Envy is saddled with a few compromises. For starters, while the 8GB of RAM is adequate when it comes to smoothing out multitasking, 16GB would give busy people more room to queue up multiple applications and browser tabs. And while the 4K display is (as we’ll see) crisp and bright, it isn’t touch-enabled. (The HP Envy 13 models with full-HD displays do have touchscreens, and the configurable Envy has a 4K touchscreen option.) We’re also a tad disappointed by the Wi-Fi 5 networking, which means the Envy won’t be able to take full advantage of newer, faster, and more efficient Wi-Fi 6 routers.

Still, if you can live without a touch-enabled display, there’s a lot to like about this Envy 13 Wood Series configuration, which also happens to be among the least expensive Core i7-1065G7-powered laptops we’ve tested (assuming you can snag the discounted price).

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