Review: Why the HP Envy 15 is a strong contender for best laptop of 2020

The HP Envy 15.
Photo credit: Newshub.

With the latest generation of Hewlett-Packard's tried and trusted Envy line, the company is getting into the increasingly crowded market of slim laptops built for creators.

Is it worth its hefty price tag and does it stack up against the competition?

I've been using the HP Envy 15 for the past couple of weeks and here are my thoughts.

The good

For many, the humble laptop really is the ultimate device. Engineered to maximise portability without skimping on performance or usability, laptops need to do everything a regular computer can - and look great doing it.

Users expect the perfect accessory for at the cafe, in a meeting, or curled up in bed watching Netflix.

That's all a pretty big ask for a hunk of metal barely larger than a diary.

As far as laptops go, the Envy 15 is very good looking. With a brushed aluminum finish and bezel-less screen, this lovely, Macbook-lookin unit fits in perfectly wherever you go.

Accompanying the stylish aesthetic is a tactile keyboard, responsive trackpad and twin speakers tuned by Danish audio house Bang and Olfusen.

I've been slinging my Envy 15 into my backpack in the morning and taking it on the go with little to no concerns about scuffing or otherwise damaging it. With survivability being a non-negotiable when it comes to buying a laptop, the Envy 15 passes with flying colours.

You might be wondering when I start talking about the fun stuff, like what the Envy 15 can do. That comes now.

Beneath that slim frame sit about the best components you'll find in a computer - in any computer, really. Put simply, the Envy 15 brings the heat.

A tenth-generation Intel i7 chip is paired with an RTX 2060 graphics card, meaning you'll have no issues playing the latest games or rendering huge video files. Of the top 100 most popular games, the Envy 15 runs all 100 well above minimum specs, which is more than can be said for most mid-range gaming PCs.

It even makes light work of new brand new titles like Assassin's Creed: Valhalla and Call of Duty: Cold War.

While this might not sound overly impressive, consider that most other laptops that target gamers are generally garish, looking like alien warships; so it's quite a feat for the nimble HP.

Your favourite games and movies will be rendered on a stunning, 15 inch UHD display, which brings out the vibrancy in colours and makes watching Netflix or playing games a delight. It's also a touch screen, meaning it'll respond to fingers or a stylus.

The Envy 15 comes with a 1TB SSD, which should be more than enough storage for the life of the computer. Pair this with Wi-Fi-6 compatibility (expected in newer laptops), and you'll be downloading and streaming in no time.

Available are an array of ports and plugins, including two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB ports, an SD card reader and a trusty HDMI port.

Notably absent are an Ethernet port or headphone jack, which are additions I'd have expected considering the vacant space on the sides.

The bad

I initially found it difficult adjusting to the slightly squashed keyboard layout, which is nestled in between the twin speakers.

I found I was constantly brushing the trackpad with my palm, which became quite a pain when trying to type; but I realise this will be different for everyone.

Another measly design gripe with the Envy 15 is that the brushed aluminum seems extra sensitive to fingerprints, smears and light scratches, meaning it goes from brand new to looking grubby in less than a morning's worth of meetings.

Hewlett-Packard HP Envy 15 - 2020 laptop.
Photo credit: Newshub.

This may also come as a controversial opinion, but I have an issue with the touch screen. The Envy 15 doesn't shift into a tablet or hybrid mode like competitors like the Surface or XPS 3-1, rendering the touch screen useless in most situations.

Sure, it's cool technology, but with a keyboard and mouse there to do the same job, I don't think it's a feature worth paying a premium for.

Probably the biggest con of this laptop is that it's far out of many people's price range. Going for between $4000 and $5000, the HP Envy 15 is undeniably expensive. 

So who is meant to buy the HP Envy 15?

The marketing content says hip, young millennials who wear bright colours and hang out in graffitied alleyways, but I'm not convinced. Most art students, web designers or otherwise in-the-know professionals would be more inclined to spend the money on food or art supplies, and not a laptop that costs more than COVID-19-era flights to LA.

So is it gamers? Would the average gamer foot the incredulous bill for this beastly laptop?

Not likely. Most gamers like the ease-of-access and futureproofing a large gaming desktop PC offers, especially as computer components improve with each passing year.

As great as the Envy 15 is for performance, its hardware is already outdated with the release of the RTX 30 series.

And with the average lifespan of a laptop being a measly three to five years, gamers won't be willing to stick with old technology, no matter how good it seems now.

That being said - pretty much any game on the market right now it'll easily play, so it is still definitely an option for laptop gamers.

The verdict

So who then would want the HP Envy 15? A lot of people - this is one of the best laptops of 2020.

If you want a workstation, gaming computer and entertainment hub rolled into one slim, sexy laptop, and your wallet can avoid the crunch, the HP Envy 15 is ideal.

Against similarly-priced competitors like the Microsoft Surface 7 or a high-specced Dell XPS, consumers wanting the best of the best will be hard-pushed to find a better combination of quality materials and high-end components than the Envy 15. 

Despite sharing the same DNA as the Surface and XPS, the HP Envy's gaming potential alone is enough to warrant the premium price - for now, at least. 

Oskar was supplied an HP Envy 15 for this review.