HP Envy Takes Aim at MacBook Air, Dell XPS 13

HP has announced its thinnest laptop yet, the sleek 0.51-inch thick Envy (starting at $850), which is a hair thinner than Apple's 12-inch MacBook (0.52 inches). Available for sale starting October 18, the Windows notebook is powered by sixth generation Intel Core processors and features a fingerprint reader integrated into the deck. 

When we got our hands on it at a recent HP press event, we observed how the Envy opens, with its hinge elevating the deck. It improves typing by bringing the keyboard up at an angle, and also allows for greater stability. 

While its silver magnesium body and high performance chipset gives the Envy all the trimmings of a top tier business class machine, the 2.82-pound notebook also features enhanced sound by Bang & Olufsen, which works with HP on the audio quality across its range of devices. 

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While the entry-level Envy has a Full HD (1920 x 1080) display, you can upgrade it (for a price HP has yet to reveal) to a Quad HD+ (3200 x 1800) display. The Envy comes with 4 USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and an SD card reader, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage. Note that HP isn't offering a touchscreen option on this model. That's what the new Spectre X2 is for.

We didn't get a chance to put this machine to the test, but HP says the elevated chassis design also allows for the Envy to better dissipate heat so the body doesn't get too hot. HP also claims the Envy will offer up to 10 hours of battery life, which we'll evaluate in our forthcoming review.

On paper, the HP Envy looks like a formidable foe for the MacBook Air but also the Dell XPS 13, which is our current top laptop overall. The Dell starts at $799 for a full HD display, but you can order it with a touchscreen for $1,349. The HP is priced $50 more to start and doesn't have an edge-to-edge screen like the Dell, but the 6th-generation CPU and overall design look promising.

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