HP: 2020 Brand Report Card

HP: 2020 Brand Report Card
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The winner of our 2019 report, HP dropped a few spots this year after disappointing in our Tech Support Showdown

HP sells some of the best laptops across multiple categories -- premium, business and gaming -- but poor budget options weigh down its review scores. The outstanding scores of the Spectre x360 and Envy 13 were largely offset by budget duds in the HP Laptop 15. It’s a shame because HP has one of the most comprehensive and compelling product offerings.

HP: 2020 Brand Report Card

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

HP’s Key Strengths

  • Modern designs: Right up there with Asus, HP designs some of the most striking laptops on the market. From the Spectre x360 to the Elite Dragonfly business laptop, HP’s products are slim and stylish. 
  • Innovative features: HP’s innovations go hand-in-hand with its designs. Features like a drop-jaw USB hinge, wooden wrist rest and dual-displays prove that beauty doesn’t need to sacrifice practicality. HP also gets props for using sustainable materials. 
  • Great value and selection: From dirt-cheap budget Chromebooks to workstations and gaming laptops, HP has a laptop for every user. And in the Envy 13 and Envy x360 13, HP offers the best value for under $1,000.

HP’s Main Weaknesses

  • Subpar support: HP dropped more points in our support and warranty category than in any other. We didn’t have a great experience getting help from the phone reps and the website tools need updating.
  • Weak budget options: Weighing HP’s average review score down were a fleet of essentially nameless budget laptops, like the HP Laptop 15. If more attention is paid to these cheap options, HP could catapult back into first place.

Top-Rated HP Laptops

Reviews (33/40)

Spectre and Envy laptops from HP consistently rank among the top of the premium and midrange categories. The Spectre x360 13 and 15 are the crown jewels of HP’s fleet, both having received a 4.5-star rating for their stunning designs and gorgeous displays. We knew the Spectre would be a highlight going into this year, but what we didn’t know is that a pair of cheaper models, the Envy 13 and Envy x360 13, would provide outstanding alternatives to HP’s flagships. 

Spectre x360 15 (Image credit: Future)

We also didn’t expect HP to make such a compelling statement in the business sector. Yes, HP’s EliteBooks almost always deliver the goods, but this year they were overshadowed by the drop-dead-gorgeous Elite Dragonfly, a 2-in-1 business laptop that gives the ThinkPad X1 Carbon a serious run for its money. HP also scored big wins in gaming with the Omen 15 and Omen 17, and launched some solid Chromebooks like the HP Chromebook x2. 

HP would have put up huge numbers in the reviews category if not for its budget notebooks, which lack the finesse of its other offerings. The HP Laptop 15 (yes, that’s the actual name of it) was one of the worst-rated laptops of the past year while the HP Pavilion x360 also failed to impress. 

Design (14/15)

Color, dual screens and wood? HP definitely wasn’t afraid to push the envelope with its design this year. As always, HP’s Spectre x360 line continues to draw all the oohs and ahhs and this year’s no different. Whether it was the 13 or 15-inch version of the x360, we all agreed that the sandblasted black aluminum chassis with the chamfered edges and copper accents screamed executive chic, especially with they’re barely-there bezels. Even the silver 2019 version was a stunner. But this year’s standout is without a doubt the Elite Dragonfly, with its midnight blue magnesium-alloy chassis that’s wafer-thin and somehow MIL-SPEC compliant. 

Elite Dragonfly (Image credit: Future)

And where most companies put little to no effort into its Chromebooks, the HP Chromebook 14, 15 and x360 12b caught our eye with their delightful white frames, although we wish the 14 was metal instead of plastic. HP also impressed with its Envy line, which delivered a premium aluminum finish in the Envy 13t and a polarizing, yet daring real wood finish on the Envy 13 (2020, Wood Edition). There were a few lowlights however, in the 15-DB0069WM and HP 14 Laptop (DF0023CL) whose pricing doomed them to generic designs and materials. 

HP’s Omen line continues to evolve with the Omen 15 and 17, which drew admiration with its decidedly avant-garde metal lid. But the crown jewel of the bunch is the Omen X 2S, which has a small secondary display at the top of the keyboard deck. Also, HP’s entry-level gaming systems shouldn’t be overlooked as the HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr is a head-turner in its own right with its black and green color scheme. 

Support and Warranty (12/20)

HP’s support site is quite unorganized, but the community forums are active and provided the necessary information to troubleshoot our laptop’s issues. The website also has a detect your product tool which quickly found our model and ran a diagnosis on its hardware. 

However, the live service tool was a nightmare and asked us to sign in five separate times before it inevitably just connected us to a virtual assistant. However, their Twitter support team was also incredibly helpful. However, our experience with HP’s phone service was quite abysmal. One agent attempted to pressure us into purchasing an extended warranty while another told us downloading something as simple as the new Edge browser could only be done by spending an additional $50 to $100 on a special warranty package.

HP laptops come bundled with a one-year warranty on parts and labor with 90 days of software support. Accidental damage protection can be purchased for separately which includes 24/7 tech support and in-home service. HP will also pay for the shipping of any laptop that needs repairs.

Innovation (9/10)

HP has always been on the forefront of innovation — I mean, come on, the California-based tech giant actually manufactured a laptop that is partly made of wood with a special edition of the HP Envy 13. That’s pretty darn cool.

Envy x360 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

When it comes to its gaming models, HP also gets our hearts pumping with its new innovative features. Dipping its toes into the dual-screen pool, we’ve seen HP add a dash of WOW to the HP Omen X 2S with its keyboard-deck display. Admittedly, the Omen X 2S does need some tweaking to make it more worthy of its premium price tag, but that’s the beauty of innovation — risks are involved, but when you get it right, the payoff is worth it.

HP is also innovative in terms of creating environmentally friendly devices. The HP Elite Dragonfly, for example, is the world’s first notebook made with ocean-bound plastic material.

Value and Selection (14/15)

HP offers a wide range of laptops. If you’re looking for cheap laptops, mid-range laptops or premium beasties, HP has got you covered with the HP 14 Laptop ($399), the HP Envy 13 ($799) and the HP Spectre x360 ($1,799), respectively. And if you’re looking for a Chromebook, the HP Chromebook 15 ($469) is an excellent choice.

HP has one of the best business and workstation lineups around. One of its best business laptop entries is the HP Elite Dragonfly ($2,169). Unfortunately, we didn’t get to review any of its ZBooks this year, which are a part of its workstation series, but the previous ones we have reviewed are great.

When it comes to gaming laptops, HP covers budget gaming laptops with its Pavilion line, like the HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr ($909). Meanwhile, the HP Omen 15 ($1,149) dips into mid-range gaming, while the dual-screen HP Omen X 2S ($2,849) covers the more expensive gaming endeavors.

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(Image credit: Laptop Mag)