It was last year that HP released the new HP Envy 13 into the market, with their claim of redefining the premium notebook PC. Measuring at 13”, it features high-performance and power-efficient processors and ATI switchable graphics. The lightweight device has an aluminium and magnesium construction. Its bright screen has an amazing colour depth, allowing for picture viewing of exceptional quality and also video playback. It comes with all you could ask for in a laptop.

One source lists its specifications as: Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium; Intel Core 2 Duo Processor SL9600 (with 2.13 GHz, 6M cache and 1066 MHz FSB); 3GB DDR3 SDRAM (1066 MHz); a SATA hard drive with 250 GB and 5400 RPM characteristics; 13.3” High Definition Widescreen Display (1366 x 768); ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 Graphics (512 MB) with Intel X4500M integrated switchable graphics; an exterior slot Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Dual Layer with multiple USB ports; an Intel wireless-N card with Bluetooth; dimensions of 12.59” (W) x 8.46” (D) x 0.8” (H); 3.75lb weight (not including AC adapter weight); 4-cell 41Wh battery; 12 month standard warranty.

The build and design of this device indicates a significant design departure by HP standards. But it is essentially very good, thanks to its solid chassis and its durable components. The etched-metal palmrest allows for unique combination of style and support.

Auto-upgrading an Envy 13 takes a fair bit of time. This notebook device was built in a way that emphasises a thin norm and clean lines. And because there are no easy-access panels located on the bottom or any keyboard quick release tabs, accessing the Envy 13 really is not that easy a thing to do. Upgrading it yourself requires that you remove the four rubber feet from the bottom before you can get those embedded screws out, followed by the battery and a lot more screws before you can finally remove the whole bottom plate. You may prefer to purchase upgrades with the notebook itself.

About the screen: the 13.3” “HP Radiance” is about twice as bright as other equal-size notebook displays (410 nit brightness). It enables you to view the screen even in a location of direct sunlight. The LED-backlit display of this device offers a 92% colour gamut, meaning that the photos feature more intense colour situation and video pops. Photography enthusiasts may prefer to tone down this display’s colours: they are slightly too rich in comparison with natural colours. And the viewing angles offered are merely average. Meanwhile, the built-in speakers, with their “Beats Audio by Dr. Dre” branding, manifest a first-class listening experience. From the speakers emerge clear sound at a good volume; but the overall sound quality does suffer thanks to the lacking of the bass.

The keyboard is travel-friendly, the key action smooth. There is a minimal level of key wiggle.

Ports and features: the combination of the SD card slot, the two USB 2.0 ports, the HDMI out and the combo audio jack is actually depressing: a lot of 11” notebooks offer more.