Today HP Inc. redefined the limits of ultra-thin notebooks while simultaneously setting a new standard for premium “luxury” electronics with the new HP Spectre as well as two different sizes HP ENVY laptops and a 15.6-inch HP ENVY x360. Will consumers pay any price for the thinnest PCs, or has HP overestimated the value of thin and light design? Let’s take a closer look at these products.
The World’s Thinnest Laptop
The engineers at HP were clearly determined to build a notebook that reclaims the title of “world’s thinnest laptop” from the folks at Apple. The new HP Spectre ($1,169.99) includes a 13.3-inch FHD IPS display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. This is a non-touch display in order to make the total device height just 10.4mm (0.41 in) thin. The bottom chassis is made from carbon fiber to keep the notebook as thin and light as possible without compromising the durability of the chassis. While this is indeed the world’s thinnest notebook at the time of this writing we should point out that the HP Spectre isn’t the lightest notebook. The Spectre tips the scales at very light 2.45 pounds but the 12-inch Apple Macbook weighs just 2.03 pounds.
The rear edge of the chassis is accented in polished copper and hides a pair of unique piston hinges that move into a recessed position when the Spectre is closed; creating the illusion of a hinge-less design. The internal 4-cell “hybrid battery” is actually a pair of 2-cell lithium-polymer batteries with different shapes spilt into two thinner pieces to deliver the same wattage as a single 4-cell battery without taking up as much space inside the notebook. HP claims a fully charged battery will last “up to 9 and half hours.”
The rear edge of the chassis is also where you’ll find all of the ports for the Spectre. You get three USB Type-C connectors (USB 3.1 Gen2); two of those ports support Thunderbolt and all three ports permit 2-way power charging both for the notebook and for you to charge USB-powered devices when you’re away from a power outlet. The Bang & Olufsen stereo speakers located on either side of the keyboard are powered by HP Audio Boost technology.
HP decided to only offer the Spectre with two processor options at launch: the 6th generation dual-core Intel Core i5-6200U or dual-core Intel Core i7-6500U processor. Both CPUs feature integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 with up to 4185 MB of total shared graphics memory. You can pair either processor with a high-speed PCIe SSD with storage capacities between 256 GB and 512 GB. Unfortunately, the system memory is limited to the onboard 8 GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM; there was no way to upgrade the system RAM or the SSD after purchase because the RAM is soldered to the main board and the chassis is sealed during assembly.
A major reason why the chassis is sealed is the integration of Intel’s hyperbaric cooling system. The CPU and integrated GPU are kept cool by a pair of small fans without the benefit of traditional heat sinks and thermal pipes. This design keeps the notebook running cool in a small package but it means the cooling system would be potentially compromised if anyone opens the chassis. In short, potential customers need to value the ultra-thin design because you will sacrifice the ability to service, repair or upgrade this laptop at home.
Gold, Diamonds and Swarovski Crystals
HP Inc. took advantage of the New York Times International Luxury Conference to announce two limited-edition versions of the HP Spectre customized by designers Tord Boontje and Jess Hannah. Both special editions of the Spectre will be auctioned off as part of a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The HP Spectre by Tord Boontje begins its life as a standard HP Spectre and then receives a complete makeover with “Midnight Blue” coating, Swarovski crystals, and 18K gold etched patterns integrating cherry blossoms, floral accents, a peacock and a butterfly. The matching keyboard features lettering with a unique custom font.
Jewelry designer Jess Hannah kicks the luxury up another notch with the HP Spectre by J. Hannah. The notebook top and rear is completely plated in 18K gold with a highly polished finish. HP’s logo is encrusted with diamonds, each carefully placed by a diamond setter. Even the keyboard deck is plated in 18K gold to match the top cover and the power button is covered with diamonds.
A limited production run with multiple copies of these two PCs will be auctioned with the proceeds supporting the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on memory, dialogue and legacy work, founded by Nelson Mandela in 1999.
More Affordable Ways to Create ENVY
The team at HP obviously realizes that not every customer will be able to afford a gold-plated notebook, and if you’re looking for a premium PC on a modest budget then you’ll want to check out the new HP ENVY in both 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch screen versions and the new 15.6-inch HP ENVY x360.
The new HP ENVY x360 ($679.99) is 21 percent thinner than the previous generation with longer battery life as well. This 15-inch FHD touchscreen notebook weighs 4.5 pounds, measures 18.8mm thin, and features a 360-degree flip hinge to let you view content in tablet, stand, or traditional laptop modes. HP will offer the ENVY x360 with your choice of 6th generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors with Intel Iris graphics or 7th generation AMD FX 9800P quad-core processor with Radeon R7 graphics.
The ENVY x360 comes with up to 16 GB of system memory and up to 2 TB of hard drive storage or up to 256 GB of PCIe SSD storage. You’ll also get a built-in SD card reader, HDMI port, two full-size USB 3.0 ports (one of which supports HP USB Boost) and one USB Type-C port.
The new 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch HP ENVY notebooks are more traditional laptops with premium extras. The metal alloy chassis designs feature edge-to-edge flush glass display, three USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, and HP Fast Charge so you can charge a fully-drained battery up to 90 percent in 90 minutes if the notebook is powered off.
HP will offer the 15.6-inch HP ENVY ($779.99) with your choice of Intel Core processors up to i7 with optional UMA or Intel Iris graphics. The system supports up to 16 GB of memory with dual storage options of up to a 1 TB HDD and 256 GB PCIe SSD. This notebook also comes with Windows Hello support if you purchase a configuration with the optional built-in HD IR camera.
The 17.3-inch HP ENVY ($1,029.99) comes with an Intel Core i7 processor with NVIDIA GeForce 940MX discrete graphics and up to 1 TB HDD or up to 512 GB SATA SSD storage. The 17.3-inch notebook is also the only model in the premium ENVY line that comes with an optical disk drive. Just like its smaller brother, the 17-inch ENVY supports Windows Hello if you pay for the optional Intel RealSense camera.