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HP's upscale Envy 13 reviewed

HP's upscale Envy 13 looks and feels like an expensive status symbol, with performance and features that impress us--but its high price makes it a tough sell over the similar-looking MacBook Pro.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman

Even a cursory glance will tell you the HP Envy 13 is a very nicely made premium 13-inch laptop. It's a solid slab of aluminum and magnesium, etched with interesting visual details, and filled with capable components, such as a dual-core low-voltage Intel CPU and discrete ATI graphics.

It's also clearly a shot across the bow of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, even if Hewlett-Packard leaves that challenge unstated. The edge-to-edge glass over the display and oversize multitouch touch pad all add to a Mac-like look and feel. Unfortunately, the Envy 13 is priced more comparably with ultrathin systems such as the Dell Adamo or even Apple's MacBook Air, starting at $1,699 (our test unit was $1,799, or $2,149 if you include the external Blu-ray drive and secondary battery).

With a better display (1,600x900-pixel resolution), newer CPU, and more options--the Envy 13 certainly makes a compelling case against the $1,199 13-inch MacBook Pro, but the $500-and-up price difference makes it a tough sell. That said, if price is no object, this is a great mix of power and portability, and sure to attract envious (no pun intended) stares in coffee shops and airport lounges.

Read the full review of the HP Envy 13.