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HP Envy x360 15 (15M-DR0012DX) Review

HP Envy x360 15
PCmag


PROS

  • Good audio quality.
  • Long-lasting battery.
  • Sleek, all-metal design with thin screen bezels.
  • Dedicated number pad.
  • Webcam kill switch for increased privacy.

CONS

  • Somewhat unwieldy in Tablet mode.
  • Screen bounces noticeably when you tap on it.
  • Wobbly keys.

A 15-inch laptop like the HP Envy x360 15 (check price at www.ritelink.com.ng). This type of 2-in-1 convertible laptop has a 360-degree-rotating hinge, which is slightly more complicated and often heavier than the one on a conventional laptop. Meanwhile, the chassis required to house the 15-inch screen is uncomfortable to hold in your hands for more than a few seconds compared with a more manageable 13-inch 2-in-1. But there are niche use cases for a 15-inch convertible, such as propping it up as a tent for an impromptu presentation. The Envy x360 15 performs tasks like this well, it has a sleek all-metal design, it’s relatively inexpensive, and best of all it isn’t as heavy as you might think. For big-screen-convertible shoppers, it’s worth a look.

Big-Screen Shoppers Only

If you are a big-screen-convertible shopper, you probably already know it. This isn’t a category of laptop that you stumble on by accident. Most general shoppers would be better served by buying a conventional 15-inch laptop for when they need a robust computing experience and a smaller and lighter true tablet like the Apple iPad when they don’t. Combining those two devices into a single PC requires some compromises.

Thankfully, with the Envy x360 15, you don’t have to compromise that much. It measures 0.67 by 14.13 by 9.68 inches (HWD), and weighs 4.53 pounds, which are admirable dimensions for any 15-incher, let alone one with a screen that rotates 360 degrees. It’s slightly smaller than the latest svelte 15-inch gaming machines like the MSI GS65 Stealth (0.69 by 15.1 by 10.2 inches). It also compares well with other 15-inch convertibles, like the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (0.74 by 14.2 by 9.5 inches, 4.45 pounds) but it’s no match for the almost impossibly light Acer Swift 5, a conventional 15-incher that weighs just 2.2 pounds.

I do find the Envy x360 15 awkward to hold with one hand for extended periods, but overall it gives off a sleek, unobtrusive impression rather than a bulky one. The bright silver metal exterior helps a lot—HP refers to it as “Natural Silver with a sandblasted anodized finish.” I’m not sure I’d want to order this laptop in a darker color, though a Dark Ash option is also available.

The machine is currently sold exclusively in our shop, unlike its smaller 13-inch Envy x360 13 cousin. The configuration we are reviewing is the Intel Core i7 1.8GHz 128GB SSD +1TB Hdd 12GB RAM Touch windows 10. You can also order the Envy x360 15 with AMD Ryzen processors and AMD Vega graphics cards.

The Envy line is one rung below HP’s ultra-premium Spectre laptops, but a few higher-end features have trickled down here. The most unique is a small switch mounted on the right edge of the laptop that kills the power to the webcam. It’s intended to provide piece of mind against webcam hacking, a problem that has led some laptop makers to install ungainly physical sliding doors over their webcams. I appreciate HP’s approach here with the kill switch, which makes the top border around the screen more pristine.

There are no infrared sensors surrounding the Envy x360 15’s webcam, so you can’t log in to your Windows account using face recognition. You can, however, use the fingerprint reader mounted below the right side of the keyboard to log in without a password. The backlit keyboard itself is a mixed bag, a clear indicator that some parts but not others of the Spectre’s excellent keyboard have trickled down. The key switches depress with a satisfying thud, but the keys themselves are quite wobbly. Spreadsheet jockeys will appreciate that HP managed to squeeze in a dedicated number pad, which is missing from some other 15-inch laptops, including the Apple MacBook Pro .

The touchpad is a long, thin, rectangular affair. It’s reasonably responsive, and in fact I found it much easier to mouse around without needing to customize responsiveness settings than I did when using the cumbersome pads on the HP Spectre Folio and HP Spectre 13. This is one area where I’m glad Spectre technology didn’t trickle down.

Envy x360 15 buyers will sorely miss the digital stylus and leather carrying case with dedicated holders for both the laptop and pen that are included with the 13-inch and 15-inch Spectre x360 convertible laptops. You can use a digital stylus with the Envy x360 15, but you’ll have to pay extra for it and find a place to store it. Although I didn’t try to use a stylus with the Envy x360 15, I did note that tapping on the touch screen in Laptop mode with my finger resulted in a very bouncy screen—more bouncy than I’ve experienced on conventional laptops.

Display, Speakers, and Connectivity

The panel itself is a 15.6-inch diagonal IPS WLED-backlit touch screen. It’s got a full HD resolution, which translates into 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. It’s a decent display, but it’s clear that HP is reserving its best panels for the Spectre lineup. Even at maximum brightness, the screen appears somewhat dull and colors fail to pop. Text is crisp, though, and if you’re viewing a movie in a darkened airplane cabin, you’ll likely have an enjoyable experience.

If you’re able to listen to that movie without headphones, you’ll likely have even more fun. The speakers on the Envy x360 15 are loud, offering robust, dimensional audio and a decent—though not startling—amount of bass. There are only two speakers, but as with most other midrange and premium HP laptop speakers, audio firm Bang & Olufsen tunes them.

Computing Performance

One of the benefits of a 15-inch laptop is that there’s more room for cooling equipment than there would be on a 13-inch design, which in turns means that manufacturers can outfit more powerful CPUs and graphics processors. That’s what HP did in the configuration of the Spectre x360 15 we reviewed earlier this year. With our Envy x360 15 review unit, the company instead opted to install a U-series Core i7 CPU and an integrated graphics chip. The “U” designator indicates a low-powered chip that needs very little external cooling. This is a very common configuration in ultraportable laptops, and it helps keep the Envy x360 15’s cost reasonable.

To compare the laptop’s computing performance, I pitted it against other similarly priced and similarly configured convertible laptops, whose specs are in the chart below. I also included the Spectre x360 15 for good measure, even though that is a much more powerful and expensive 15-inch convertible. Overall, the Envy x360 15 held its own with direct competitors like the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1, though obviously underperformed the more expensive Spectre x360 15 on some tests.

For general computing tasks like web browsing and word processing, the Envy x360 will not let you down. I experienced no sluggishness or crashes during a full day of use, including installing multiple desktop apps and opening many browser tabs at once. The PCMark 10 benchmark confirms my experience, with the Envy x360 15 performing within a few hundred points of all of its competitors save for the Spectre x360 15. On this test, which simulates overall system performance for light gaming and office-centric tasks like web browsing and videoconferencing, anything higher than 4,000 indicates good performance.

The same is true of the PCMark 8 test, which simulates the same types of tasks, but focuses solely on how well the PC’s storage subsystem is able to handle them. All of these laptops have SSDs as their main boot drives, so they performed roughly equally.

The differences are more pronounced on our media creation tests. The Envy x360 15 was neck-in-neck with every competitor except for the 15-inch Spectre x360, which showed an enormous advantage thanks to its powerful GPU. Cinebench stresses the CPU rather than the GPU to render a complex image. The result is a proprietary score indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.

When it comes to applying a series of filters and other effects to a JPG test image in Adobe Photoshop CC, however, scores were all over the place. The Envy x360 15 actually performed competitively against both of its HP siblings and the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1, while the Inspiron 15 7000 lagged significantly. The Photoshop test involves “bursty” demands on the CPU and GPU, and it can throw a curveball even for powerful systems.

I did not attempt to play resource-intensive games on the Envy x360 15, and the results of our gaming tests below explain why. 3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans through a detailed 3D scene and measures how the system copes.

The Envy x360 performed poorly on both of these tests, which isn’t necessarily a drawback, since no ultraportable with integrated graphics can play demanding games very well. As with Cinebench, if the laptop has a discrete GPU from Nvidia or AMD, it will perform vastly better. Stick to casual games like Candy Crush and you’ll be fine.

The Envy x360 15’s 56Wh battery offers adequate life, as measured by our video-rundown test, which involves looping a locally stored 720p file with screen brightness set at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent until the system conks out. Thirteen hours will get you through a cross-country flight or a day at work, but it’s not as good as the nearly 21 hours that the Spectre x360 13 can achieve away from a plug.

You’ll Know If It’s for You

If you really need a laptop with a 15-inch screen that rotates 360 degrees, we’re not going to stop you from buying one, and the HP Envy x360 15 isn’t going to stop you from enjoying one. Just remember that alternatives exist, including buying an excellent smaller convertible like the Lenovo Yoga C930 that’s more portable, or buying a conventional 15-incher for its screen real estate and using a separate tablet when you need portability.

THE BOTTOM LINE

With sleek styling and useful features like a webcam kill switch, the HP Envy x360 15 offers excellent value for big-screen-convertible laptop shoppers.

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