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HP Pavilion 13 Review: Look Carefully, No Laptop Rival Matches It On The Cusp Of Premium-ness

HP Pavilion 13 Review: Look Carefully, No Laptop Rival Matches It On The Cusp Of Premium-ness

The HP Pavilion 13-13-bb0075TU we are reviewing is priced at Rs 71,999. The core specs—an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD.

There is just a certain charm about a laptop that is compact, slim, light and yet very powerful. This melding together of the checklist is exactly what a lot of users look for, particularly in the Windows 10 ecosystem, without having to part with a few limbs to pay the sticker price. In fact, the way things have been in the world over the past 12 months or so, laptops are very much in vogue with users working from home or working remotely. Yet, there aren’t many laptops in the Windows 10 space that actually do this, while retaining some aspect of value. Yet, that’s exactly what the new HP Pavilion 13 laptop is doing. The variant that we are reviewing here is the HP Pavilion 13-13-bb0075TU and this is priced at Rs 71,999. The core specs—an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD and weighs just 1.24kg for a 13.3-inch laptop.

A quick glance at the competition landscape for the HP Pavilion 13, in this spec configuration and price, leads us to the Dell Inspiron 5301 which is priced at around Rs 80,000 and has a 13.3-inch display, an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor, but with 8GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. Then there’s the Asus ExpertBook P2 (P2451B) which is priced at around Rs 79,990 and instead has a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD for a 14-inch display size. Quite interesting could actually be the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i which is priced at around Rs 69,990 and is powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor, has 8GB RAM, a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD and has a 15.6-inch display—makes sense if you are willing to compromise on the screen size and go for something larger. If you are wondering where the Microsoft Surface devices are, what you get for around Rs 78,990 is the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (VDV-00015) which has a smaller 12.3-inch touchscreen, is powered by the 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and has a measly 128GB SSD. It’s the same 10th generation Intel Core processors story along with the meagre storage space, for the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go series as well.

HP Pavilion laptops have always been built well, though they have never really stood out in terms of the design. They weren’t the slimmest and neither did they have any standout visual elements. Those were the territory for the ENVY and the Spectre series of laptops and convertibles. That has changed now, and quite significantly. The HP Pavilion 13, as it is now, takes a lot of cues from the ENVY and Spectre series, particularly the former. The immediate upgrade is it looks premium, and absolutely worth the sticker price. It’s the Natural Silver finish all through, and that looks really sophisticated. If I may dare say so, there’s a lot of the Apple MacBook Pro 13 resemblance, hard to shrug off every time I pick up the HP Pavilion 13. And while at it, picking this up is easy, because it tips the scales around 1.24kg. That isn’t a lot more than an ultrabook, to be honest.

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Mind you, it is still a plastic chassis and not metal. Push down a bit sternly around the center of the keyboard and there’s a bit of a visible dip. And you can also see the lid flex a bit if you attempt to open it from one side and not down the middle. Is it just me or the HP Pavilion 13 has missed out on a carved-out groove for where your thumb or fingers can rest on the base as you open the lid? That’s a big miss, because opening the lid of this laptop isn’t exactly as smooth as perhaps am Asus ExpertBook B9 laptop or indeed the Apple MacBook Air. There is also the matter of the fairly thick bezels around the screen, which is matte black plastic. This just feels out of place, on a laptop that costs as much. Ideally, this should either be slimmed down on all sides, or given a glass layer on top to better blend it with the display. A few things to improve with the next refresh, perhaps.

This particular variant runs the 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor, the Intel Core i5-1135G7 with 16GB of RAM. Not many of its rivals offer 16GB RAM, with most holding out for the 8GB RAM mark instead. That means the HP Pavilion 13 laptop gets a multi-pronged advantage. Not only do you get a wider canvas for multi-tasking, but there’s a lot more headroom for your apps and software. A bloated Google Chrome will have significantly lesser detrimental impact on the performance than a laptop with 8GB RAM, and an older generation processor. This specification, as it stands, will hold you in good stead, be it as a work machine for taking to office or working from home, or even for a mix of entertainment thrown in with some post work Netflix binging. The fast SSD helps with the read and write speeds, that sees a tick in the performance bit. What the HP Pavilion 13 cannot do is gaming. This gets the Intel Iris Xe graphics, and while these bring along significant improvements compared with the Intel integrated graphics that have preceded it, the benefits are more towards further boosting system and software performance by offloading tasks from the processor, rather than gaming.

The HP Pavilion 13 stays cool, and I didn’t notice any heating on the palm rest or around the keyboard area in general. There is some tepidness evident around the upper middle area of the underside, if you’re using this in your lap, but nothing that could be uncomfortable or even remotely dangerous. The fans kick in at a higher speed preemptively too, which is good, and they remain quite silent for the most part. Staying cool also helps with the battery life, which once you’ve cleaned out the unnecessary apps and software running in the background, lasts a solid 6 hours or more. A lot depends on the screen brightness and how many apps you have running at the same time, but it’s still a solid turnaround time. That being said, not enough for you to leave the charger back at home if you are heading to office with this.

It’s a 13.3-inch Full HD display and it simply ticks off what you’d need from the HP Pavilion 13. It is bright, crisp and doesn’t really bother you with reflections. There is a clamor for 4K resolution screens on laptops, but in my humble opinion, a Full HD screen is still the way to go for most users because the more pixels there are to light up on the screen, the more battery usage there is. For working on documents and spreadsheets as well as catching up on some of your favorite TV shows and movies after work, this display pretty much does it all.

The keyboard, as you see it on the HP Pavilion 13, is very similar to what we have seen in HP laptops over the years. It’s the same layout, almost similar key size and spacing as well as the size of the touchpad. The one thing I notice with this implementation is that the key response isn’t as sharp as it should sound, and as it does on ENVY laptops. That being said, it still feels the same as you type, which is quite tailormade for quick typing. It’s just that the clickety-click audio experience just isn’t there. There is no doubt that HP’s implementation of the keyboard on the Pavilion 13 is, even though its softer responses, is still sharper than what a lot of Lenovo and Dell laptops—something that I haven’t always been able to get used to.

The Last Word: HP Pavilion 13 Gains More Than It Misses Out On

The HP Pavilion 13 is certainly doing everything better, than its predecessors. Certainly, looks cooler and more sophisticated, has the latest specifications under the hood which will hold your expense in good stead for a few years down the road and is certainly offering more than what most of its rivals manage in the same price band. Yes, the battery life could have been more, but you do get fast charging. The audio continues to be tuned by Bang & Olufsen, for whatever it is worth for video calls and video streaming. HP has also kept things steady with the display and the keyboard. There is no doubt that the HP Pavilion 13 offers value, something that isn’t easily said about laptops that cost as much. Or more.