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Computing

The HP Envy Wood Series puts real walnut or birch in five stylish laptops

With the HP Envy Wood Series laptops, HP is making another daring commitment to natural materials. It started with the all-leather-clad Spectre Folio, and now we have real walnut or birch inlay on four Envy laptops.

Each Envy Wood Series laptop features authentic wood inlay in the keyboard deck, including the touchpad surface. The rest of the laptop is clad in metal.

Now don’t worry, you can still get an all-metal Envy laptop if you wish. With the Wood Series, HP is offering a trendy option that gives you a warm, natural finish and a truly unique look, as each wood inlay is different from the next. 

hp envy 13 all colors stackedHP

The HP Envy 13’s Wood Series option is available alongside more traditional gold and silver metal surfaces. 

Announced Monday at Computex in Taipei, details on the four Envy Wood Series laptops are scant. They’re due to ship in the fall, with pricing yet to be announced. Notably, most offer a choice of Intel or AMD processors. Here’s everything else we know. 

hp envy 17 in natural silver pale birch front HP

This is the HP Envy 17 in Silver with Pale Birch wood inlay.

There are three wood/metal combinations:

  • Natural Walnut with a dark metal HP calls Nightfall Black
  • White Birch with White Ceramic (coated metal)
  • Pale Birch with Silver metal

All the wood comes from sustainable, FSC-certified wood sources. The wood has been treated with a special TPU soaking process to reinforce the wood grain, which measures less than 1mm thick. The surface coating has been tested for resistance to substances ranging from red lipstick and red wine; yellow mustard; coffee, soda, and beer; sunscreen, and solution inks, as well as the natural oils from your hands. HP advises that you protect the wood surface from excessive exposure to sunlight, high temperature and high humidity.    

hp envy 13 nightfallblack frontrightHP

The Wood Series version of the HP Envy 13 comes only in Natural Walnut with Nightfall Black. 

The HP Envy 13 will come in both clamshell and x360 models. Both versions will be available in Natural Walnut with Nightfall Black. The x360 will offer the Ceramic White with White Birch, and it will also offer processor options from AMD’s 2nd Generation Ryzen along with Intel.

hp envy x360 13 and 15 in ceramicwhite deck close up HP

The HP Envy x360 13 in Ceramic White with White Birch wood inlay

The most compact of the Envy lineup, the Envy 13 variants measure 14.7mm thin (a little over a half-inch) and weigh less than 2.6 pounds. The HP Envy 13 offers up to 19.75 hours of battery life, while the Envy 13 x360 will offer up to 14.5 hours. Those are impressive numbers, but expect your mileage to vary.

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Computing

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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