Hands On with HP’s Spring Refresh: New Pavilions, EliteBooks, Ultrabooks and More

by Reads (20,993)

HP took the wraps off of their updated product lines today, with almost no notebook, desktop, server or display safe from the itchy fingers of the product managers. We took the opportunity to spend some hands on time with HP’s new products, with some impressive, and some not-as-impressive, results.

Be sure to check out our image gallery for over 200 new product shots (link in the top left)!


There are a couple of innovations that span most of the new product lines unveiled this morning, especially with regards to the new consumer machines. HP’s new CoolSense technology is a clever use of a laptop’s built-in accelerometer. Think about putting your computer on your lap – despite what manufacturers like to claim, a lot of mobile PC users still find themselves sitting in hallways or couches, with their notebooks perched atop their outstretched legs.

If it’s comfortable, chances are you won’t be moving the computer around too much. As it starts to heat up, however, you might begin to feel antsy, pushing the computer back and forth and lifting it up to let your legs cool off. CoolSense monitors the laptop’s movements for signs of this distress. When the notebook is cool and stationary, the fans spin down, reducing noise and letting you concentrate on the task at hand. As things heat up – and you start to move around – the accelerometer senses that and spins the fans up while adjusting the system performance to keep things from getting too uncomfortable. Happily, this means that laptops can stay on your laps without fear of burns or infertility.


The second new consumer tech that HP was bragging about at its recent press event is ProtectSmart. ProtectSmart, like CoolSense, takes advantage of built-in sensors that can tell when a laptop is being shaken or dropped. It locks the hard drive down, thus preventing your drive’s head from crashing into the spinning disks. It’s a feature that business notebooks like ThinkPads and EliteBooks have had for some time, and HP is finally bringing it over to the consumer lineup. If you own, or order, a notebook with a solid state drive instead of a traditional hard drive, you won’t get ProtectSmart – because you don’t need it! SSDs, since they have no moving parts, are much more robust (with regards to falling) than hard drives. 

HP Pavilion m6

The Pavilion m6 takes a standard 15-inch notebook and kicks everything up a couple of notches. A quick glance at the outside of the notebook lets you know that HP intends for this machine to offer a premium experience over its standard offerings. It’s also part of the rebranding of HP’s design philosophy. The machine is a bit more wedge-shaped than previous Pavilions, and the rear of the cover tapers backwards in a vaguely trapezoidal manner. HP’s name is inscribed there in an elegant font, and the whole tapered panel is covered in a soft touch, rubbery finish. It feels nice in the hand.

The notebook is clad in a brushed aluminum shell: both outside, on the top and bottom, and on the palm areas around the keyboard and trackpad.

HP Pavilion m6 HP Pavilion m6

It feels solid in your hand; part of that is due to the nice aluminum cladding, and part of it is due to the machine’s general slimness. Ultrabook, no, but it’s still a far cry from the bricks of yesteryear. HP is leaving the optical drive in all of its mainstream notebook products for the time being, and the m6 is no exception. 

HP Pavilion m6Beats Audio is built in, and this is where the one design feature I found a bit confusing rears its head. On many of the new PCs, HP puts a Beats Audio logo right in the middle of their speakers. It’s a spot where power or other buttons go on many notebooks, and it looks like you should be able to press it, too – but no, it’s just a logo. Oh, Beats. At least there’s a subwoofer.

A Chiclet style keyboard and trackpad (no integrated buttons here) partner up to one of HP’s HD BrightView displays. The battery specs weren’t given out, but HP is promising up to eight hours of battery life. Intel and AMD models will be available, and optional upgrades include a backlit keyboard and discrete GPUs. Pricing will start at $699.99, with June availability only at Best Buy, BestBuy.com, and HP’s online store.

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