HP Pavilion Aero 13 review

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The HP Pavilion Aero 13 isn’t your typical Pavilion laptop, and neither is its product range. Pavilion is HP’s everyday brand, focusing on value, while Envy and Spectre are the company’s midrange and luxury lines, respectively. But wow, HP crammed a lot of value into the Aero 13: a beautiful magnesium-aluminum chassis, powerful processor, extended battery life, a bright, colourful display, and a weight of barely 2 pounds (0.94 kilograms). Despite everything it has to offer, it has a starting price of $750.

The configuration I tested costs $1,000, but even if you go all out, the price drops to $1,125, and you get a lot of bang for your buck, including upgrades to the keyboard, display, storage, Wi-Fi card, and four other colour options. Essentially, while the pricing does not scream “budget-friendly laptop,” you are getting a lot of laptop for your money.

On HP’s UK site, the Pavilion Aero 13 is described as arriving shortly, with a starting price of £850. In Australia, it’s not currently available from HP, however Harvey Norman has a configuration for AU$1,598.

HP PAVILION AERO 13
Price as reviewed$1,000
Display size/resolution13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
CPUAMD Ryzen 7 5800U
Memory16GB 3200MHz (onboard)
Graphics512MB AMD Radeon Graphics
PortsUSB-C (10Gbps), USB-A (x2, 5Gbps), HDMI 2.0 out; AC in, combo headphone jack 
Storage512GB PCIe SSD
NetworkingRealtek 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.2
Operating systemWindows 10 Home (21H1)

Apple’s MacBook Air is the unofficial benchmark for 13-inch lightweight notebooks, at least in terms of style and features that can be had for under $1,000. The Pavilion Aero 13 doesn’t quite equal the look and quality of Apple’s cheapest laptop, but it comes close and includes certain features that the Air lacks. It’s also roughly a pound lighter.

The MacBook Air, for example, has a 13.3-inch display with a resolution of 2560×1600-pixels, 400-nit brightness, and P3 colour gamut coverage. The Aero 13 can be ordered with a 1920×1200 pixel display or a 2560×1660 pixel display (neither is a touchscreen, though). I tried the former and found that it covers 100% of the sRGB colour gamut and 81% of the Adobe RGB and P3 colour gamuts. The brightness was 495 nits in my tests, despite the fact that it was rated for 400 nits. It’s a terrific display overall, far superior to what I’d expect from previous Pavilion models, and the higher-resolution panel is only $30 more.

The keyboard is large and comfy, but the silver keys aren’t always easy to read.

My setup didn’t have a backlit keyboard; it’s an extra $10 if you order an Aero 13 in silver, but it’s included with the other three colour options HP offers. However, the colours are an extra $10 or $15, so it’s essentially a wash. You may also choose between an AMD Ryzen 5 5600U or Ryzen 7 5800U processor with 8GB or 16GB of memory (which is onboard and cannot be expanded later), as well as a 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD for storage. You’ll also be able to get a free upgrade to Windows 11.

The Ryzen 7 5800U outperforms a more expensive Intel Core i7-1185G7 in the Dell XPS 13 — a premium competitor to the Aero 13 — in terms of performance. You’re getting a lot of processing power here, and with 16GB of RAM, you won’t have any issues with ordinary office and schooling, streaming entertainment, or simple content creation. On our streaming video test, the battery lasted for 10 hours and 8 minutes.

On the Pavilion Aero 13, there are more than USB-C ports.

Most significantly, the HP Pavilion is a joy to work with. It has a pleasant feel to it in your hands. Even though it’s so light, you can open it with just your thumb. There are several USB-C connectors, and even though the power adapter has a barrel connector, it may be charged using the USB-C port as well.

The precision touchpad is smooth and sensitive without any jumpiness, and the keyboard feels about as nice as any narrow laptop at this price. For password-free sign-ins, there’s even a fingerprint reader in the palm rest. A shutter to block the webcam and a shortcut key to rapidly kill the mics are also missing, as is a microSD or SD card reader, which are both included on HP’s Envy and Spectre models.

But, to HP’s credit, using the Pavilion Aero 13 doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. With its extended battery life, light body, and quick performance, this compact laptop is one you’ll want to carry around with you everywhere you go.

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