HP Envy x360 15 (2021) review: A lot of laptop at a reasonable price
This slim, stylish 15-inch two-in-one will perk up your work-from-home experience.
Updated Oct. 7, 2021 4:00 a.m. PT
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Joshua GoldmanManaging Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
ExpertiseLaptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and dronesCredentials
More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
With PC makers moving more toward using taller 16:10- and 3:2-ratio displays instead of widescreen 16:9 panels, models like the HP Envy x360 15 might soon be a rarity. On the other hand, 15.6-inch two-in-ones are already fairly uncommon. Still, this Envy is strong competition against models like Lenovo Yoga 7i and Dell Inspiron 15 2-in-1 for its mix of component options and design and software features. If you're looking for a big, widescreen two-in-one, this is a good place to start.
Also, while it might arrive to you with Windows 10, it meets the requirements for a free upgrade to Windows 11. A two-in-one is going to be a great way to take full advantage of the new OS and its support for Android apps and its enhanced tablet interface. Although, its 15.6-inch size and 4.1-pound weight does make it awkward to use as a handheld tablet. Still, it's fine on a table and you can always use it in tent or stand modes, too. The Envy x360 15 has pen support, too, and it magnetically attaches to the body. However, not all configurations come with a pen (mine didn't).
If you are considering this for content creation, you'll want to pay attention to the display used in the configurations. There are three different panels and the entry-level option has a smaller color range and lower 250-nit brightness than the middle option I tested. The latter covers 100% sRGB color space and has a max brightness of 400 nits, although it tested at 97% sRGB and 45% of Adobe RGB and P3 color spaces and a brightness of 382 nits. There is a higher-end 4K UHD AMOLED panel as well, but you'll have to switch from AMD to Intel for that.
The AMD Ryzen 7 gets you better performance for your money, though. You miss out on Thunderbolt 4, but the USB-C port does support a display and high-speed data. Plus, with an HDMI port onboard, you can easily connect up to a second external monitor if necessary, or get a USB-C dock for a single-cable desktop setup. You can also take advantage of the two-in-one design and flip the display into stand mode and give yourself a clean-looking triple-monitor workspace. While the Envy x360 15 is no workstation, it's enough for basic content creation tasks. (HP even has a mouse to help creators multitask.) Similarly, this configuration would only be good for casual gaming or cloud gaming services.
A lot of tools for work and privacy
Like other Envy models, the keyboard is wide and comfortable without feeling too mushy. The key legends are big and easy to read, too. The precision touchpad is smooth and responsive -- no issues there at all. On the function key row along with media controls and screen and keyboard-backlight brightness, you'll find shortcuts for blocking the webcam and muting the mic.
If you are one of the many taking a lot more video calls now, the last thing you want are loud fans whirring away in the background or, worse, fans that are constantly cycling on and off while you chat. It sort of comes with the territory for thin laptops like this Envy, but pressing the F12 key launches HP's Command Center to help you control cooling depending on if you want top performance or need to keep the fan noise to a minimum.
The same app also lets you direct network bandwidth to specific applications while another app, HP Display Control, gives you calibrated color presets for whatever you're doing, such as photo or video editing. Then there's HP's QuickDrop feature, which lets you instantly send files, photos, videos, URLs and other things from your phone or other devices to the Envy x360 15.
Probably the most interesting option is HP's Enhanced Lighting app. It essentially uses the 400-nit brightness of the display as a ring light to help brighten your face for video chats. You can get a similar result by putting a blank Word doc on your display and cranking the brightness, but obviously the app makes it easier and you can adjust the tone from cool to warm.
Battery life is long, too
You might think with this being a larger, more powerful laptop, battery life might suffer. It doesn't. On our streaming video test it hit 11 hours, 5 minutes, which is in line with what HP claims for the model. Of course, it's going to come down to what you're doing with it, screen brightness, volume, etc., but getting near 8 hours of mixed use is achievable. It also charges quickly with its included power adapter that uses a barrel connector. You can also charge it via its USB-C port.
While HP markets the Envy x360 15 as an option for creators, you don't need to be one to appreciate it. It's a bigger laptop with some helpful hardware and software features, which makes it nice for working from home. At the same time, it's still a manageable size and weight for the occasional commute. Add in strong performance and a long battery life and you're getting a lot of laptop at a reasonable price.
HP Envy x360 15
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