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Thursday / September 20.
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HP Envy 13”

Back to school used to be about uniforms and books, but these days, the critical list also included technology. Parents are now being told that smartphones, tablets, laptops and other gadgets are now crucial components for the schoolbag. Cost though, is a consideration and buying a laptop that’s good value, and yet looks good is a challenge more than a few parents are having to contend with over the next couple of weeks.

The HP Envy 13” has been revised for 2017 and is aimed squarely at the second and third-level student market. Taking it out of the box reveals a sleek, elegantly designed laptop that’s less than 1.4 cms thick. It’s obvious that HP have made great efforts to step up on styling. In a market when many Windows laptops are grey and dull, the HP Envy is a refreshing, modernist styled computer in natural silver aluminium.

Easy to hold, it won’t add much to a backpack weighing in at just 1.39 KG. On the sides of the Envy are one full-size HDMI port, a headphone jack and 3 USB ports, including one Type-C port, which provides ample connectivity for most users. The version I tested has a 256 GB SSD hard disk which is decent for an entry level laptop, but there’s also a microSD media card reader on the side of the Envy.

It comes with Windows 10 Home preinstalled and my test machine’s 8GB of RAM should be plenty for most day to day tasks including using some graphics editing or creative software. The Touchscreen I tested has a beautiful QHD+ touchscreen and a very good 3200 x 1800 display. The optional 4GB version while enough for less demanding tasks could leave you wanting if you plan on using something like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

The engine of this laptop is the reliable and proven Intel’s Core i5 and graphics are also powered by an Intel chip, the HD Graphics 620. These technical specifications can sometimes be confusing to decode, but all this adds up to a great screen and a laptop that has enough horsepower to handle schoolwork or entertainment applications with ease.

Using the HP Envy is a pleasure. The keyboard is nicely designed and has nice spacing between keys. There are dual speakers, engineered by Bang & Olufsen and they’re punchy and played back Netflix and TV with plenty of clarity thanks to the HP Audio Boost.

There’s also a HP TrueVision HD webcam, which records good HD video and is ideal for students away from home to keep in touch. Using the camera or playing back video can often be hard on laptop battery life, but if you’re not doing anything that requires lots of power you can get up to ten hours battery life.

This is a good laptop that would suit students who need a Windows PC for school or college. There are 4 GB and non-touch screen versions of this Envy, but the best performer is the 8GB touchscreen version which can double nicely as an entertainment laptop. With its stylish, refreshed design, good specs and slim proportions it’s as comfortable at college as it is at home.

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Andy O'Donoghue talks about technology, some say, too much.

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