The HP Pavilion Aero 13 redefines usability with its extremely lightweight form. But is a laptop that monitors its weight practical to live with?
HP Pavilion Aero 13
- Robust performance
- Nice display
- Dated design
- Battery life
The HP Pavilion Aero 13 is by far the most underrated laptop released in 2021, especially for a laptop that costs less than ??1 lakh. While other manufacturers were busy installing Quad HD displays and sophisticated metal enclosures, HP took a different formula: simplify and add lightness. Yes, that’s the mantra that Lotus boss Colin Chapman followed for his race cars in the 1960s, and even after 50 to 60 odd years, it works wonders on a utility laptop.
You pay ??79,999 for the standard variant of the HP Pavilion Aero 13 with the AMD Ryzen 5 5000 processor. This is almost MacBook Air territory, where Asus and Lenovo also have some great alternatives to offer, including HP’s own Envy x360. . The Aero 13 doesn’t look as special as some of the names here, but for what it offers as a package, I think it’s easily one of the best Windows laptops in this lineup. price.
To see if my ideas had anything to do with reality, I swapped my work PC (a humble MacBook Air M1) for a Pale Rose Gold Aero 13. And in the end, I wasn’t surprised.
HP Pavilion Aero 13 design
Design is subjective, but from where I’m sitting the Aero 13 looks like any other HP Pavilion laptop I’ve seen so far. It’s slim and sleek enough as a lightweight laptop should be, but the overall treatment of the design feels dated. The cover with its old HP logo and signature Pavilion underline takes away the appeal; I wonder why HP didn’t borrow some of the Envy x360’s svelte looks.
Look inside and there is still not much to get excited about. Aside from the edge-to-edge keyboard layout, the deck itself looks bland. The thin screen bezels are a welcome change, but its rough plastic surfaces take away the overall appeal. There’s none of the visual drama that the Envy x360 offers for a similar price. Maybe HP should have made the Aero 13 part of the Envy series instead of the boring Pavilion line.
However, that whole boring image flies away as soon as you lift it. Because for a 13 inch laptop the Aero 13 is incredibly light! In fact, it feels like there is nothing inside. I was able to hold the laptop like I would hold my iPad; the weight under 1 kilo is wonderful if you carry your laptop a lot. Plus, HP has cleverly used a combination of magnesium alloys and recycled plastics, which makes this laptop comfortable to hold. The Aero 13’s smoother edges and smart contours make the MacBook Air uncomfortable for my hands. It is by far the most comfortable laptop I have used – ever!
And despite the slim chassis, the Aero 13 has all the necessary ports. There is one USB-C port that supports charging and displays, two USB-A ports with 5 Gbps speeds, one HDMI 2.0 port, one 3.5mm audio / mic port, and one USB port. proprietary HP charging. For wireless connectivity, there is Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6.
HP Pavilion Aero 13 Display
Accompanying this lightweight form is an excellent display. You get a 13.3-inch IPS LCD display with a pixel resolution of 1920 x 1200, with an aspect ratio of 16:10. This 100% sRGB color profile means the Aero 13 has one of the most vibrant LCD screens in this price segment, with the exception of the Asus VivoBook OLED. Windows 11 and everything on it looks alive, with good levels of contrast. The maximum brightness of 400 nits is also useful in most indoor situations. However, there is no high refresh rate, which is what gaming laptops and the Xiaomi Mi Notebook Ultra offer at this price.
HP Pavilion Aero 13 Performances
Inside the HP Pavilion Aero 13 is AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600U processor along with an integrated AMD Radeon graphics card. There’s 16GB of 3200MHz DDR4 RAM and 512GB of M.2 PCIe SSD on board. The Aero 13 still ships with Windows 10, but I tried the Windows 11 Release Preview, which is almost as stable as Windows 11.
For everyday productivity tasks, the Aero 13 is more than capable enough to stand up while I kick off my office workflow to it. Running Google Chrome with 10-11 tabs simultaneously, MS Word and WhatsApp in the background, and music streaming – none of these blocked the Aero 13. Not bad since the Ryzen 5 5600U on the Aero 13 is limited to 15W of power, which limits the performance potential but does not heat up the keyboard area like other Ryzen 5 laptops do.
The fantastic keyboard adds to the productivity. Not only do the keys have great travel, but they also offer satisfying feedback. Coupled with a well-spaced layout and large keys, the Aero 13 makes it a very good writer’s laptop. I typed thousands of words, including this review, and never felt the need to plug in an external keyboard.
However, I used an external mouse to help me with the job as the trackpad isn’t as nice. It is responsive to gestures but the monitoring and sensitivity are not up to what the competition offers. There is a fingerprint scanner for signing in to Windows Hello – it’s handy for quickly signing in without a password, but the detection rate is quite often inconsistent.
The audio experience was good, although there is room for improvement, as always with these slim laptops. The speakers are loud enough for watching YouTube videos or participating in a video call, but they lack depth and bass; keeping your headphones handy is a good idea. The mic works great, picking up my voice clearly, but the 720p webcam is usable as long as you’re sitting by a window on a bright sunny day.
Now obviously you won’t be buying an HP Pavilion Aero 13 for gaming, but if you run GTA 5 or F1 2020 into it, you get playable frame rates between 30-40 fps with weak graphics and reduced resolution. To edit high resolution images on Adobe Photoshop, this laptop has enough grunt. Those looking for video editing should look elsewhere.
HP Pavilion Aero 13 battery life
This is an area where the Aero 13 does not match the rest of the package. With its tiny 43 Wh battery, I was able to get a maximum of 5 hours on a single charge with my usual office workflow, which is well below the 10 hours of battery life promised. Note that I kept the laptop connected to Wi-Fi the entire time, set brightness levels between 30-40%, and kept it on standby when not in use. A bigger battery could have helped make the Aero 13 more convenient to carry without a charger for an entire day.
HP provides a 65W charger in the box, which is bulky to carry in backpacks. I mainly charged the laptop with my OnePlus 65W portable charger via the USB-C port and it did the trick, although it took over 2 hours to fully charge.
Lightness is good and HP adding it in abundance to the Aero 13 makes it very practical and desirable. So, if you have a budget of ??$ 80,000 to spend on a laptop you need for your hybrid home work routine, educational needs, or just personal entertainment, I highly recommend the HP Pavilion Aero 13. It is not the Windows laptop. the most exciting at this price, but the rest of the package is fantastic. Its highly portable form factor, sturdy keyboard, reliable performance, and a beautiful display make it a great choice. Battery life is a downside though, and if you really need it, the Apple MacBook Air M1 is still the benchmark in this category.