Almost every review of the HP Envy 13 I read (including our own) compared the notebook to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. This isn't surprising, as HP is clearly aiming to capture Apple's luxury design, craveability, and price tag. The Envy 13 has its flaws (particularly the touchpad), and consumers are less likely to overlook them given that the system is considerably more expensive than Apple's offering. Still, there are some aspects of this notebook that are better than the competition:
1. Performance. The 13-inch MacBook Pro's 2.26-GHz processor scored an impressive 3,207 on PCMark Vantage (running Vista in BootCamp) but the Envy beats that score by 840 points, outpacing even the average PC desktop replacement. Creative professionals who edit video, images, or complex publishing projects will feel the difference here, but it's imporant to note that the MacBook we tested came with 2GB of RAM, and the Envy 13 had 3GB.
2. Battery Options. The 4-cell battery that comes with the Envy 13 isn't very exciting by itself. However, unlike the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the battery on the Envy is user-replaceable. We also like that HP provides an optional extended battery slice, which is designed to meld seamlessly with the design and provide longer life. (Over 10 hours -- the results are in.)
3. Audio. Both systems have underwhelming integrated speakers. Where the Envy 13 sets itself apart is its enhanced sound output. HP partnered with Monster/Beats by Dr. Dre to engineer better sound when listening to music through headphones or external speakers. The result is a fuller, richer audio experience that will please audiophiles.
4. Display. Not only does the Envy have a higher resolution than the MacBook Pro (1600 x 900 vs. 1280 x 800), it also has a brighter screen. This notebook boasts 410-nit brightness and can display 82 percent of the color gamut -- twice as much brightness and color depth as you get with typical displays. Though it's hard to show with photographs, we took these to give you some idea of the difference between them (the Envy is on the left, MacBook on the right).
5. Graphics. The MacBook Pro has pretty powerful integrated graphics, but the Envy has the edge with switchable graphics. The discrete ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 GPU delivered a score of 3,087 on 3DMark06 -- the MacBook Pro Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics card scored 2,174. And with the ability to switch between graphics-enhancing discrete and power-saving integrated, the Envy is more versatile as well.
These advantages don't necessarily make up for the Envy 13's shortcomings, but they do show that HP is a more than worthy contender on the high end. Check out our review of the HP Envy 13 and of the Apple MacBook Pro to make your own comparisons.