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.
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.
Beats 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.
HP Pavilion dv4, dv6 and dv7
These guys are the bread and butter of HP's notebook sales, and the new updates do a reasonable job of keeping these affordable PCs competitive. HP likes to come up with a design theme when they re-engineer their product lineups. The last ENVYs were inspired by speed, rocketships, and stylish Art Deco products - think Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The new Pavilion dv line was "influenced by kinetic energy", and showcase the same tapered look of the m6, above.
Given how many customers like to listen to music on these notebooks, HP moved the speakers in the new models. Instead of sitting in front and directing beats right at your torso, the new speakers sit on the top of the machine, in a bar directly below the display. That way, regardless of whether your notebook is on your lap or on your table, you'll still be able to hear what's going on.
The dv6 and dv7 have a couple of premium features that the dv4 lacks, such as the m6's soft touch material at the hinge, a metallized finish, HP's SimplePass fingerprint scanner/password utility, CoolSense and ProtectSmart, as well as an HP HD webcam.
The dv4 will be sold in midnight black, black licorice, linen white and carmine red finishes, while the dv6 and dv7 are currently slated to get just midnight black. All three models will be available on June 20th for $549.99, $579.99 and $799.99, respectively.
Some models will be upgradeable to discrete NVIDIA GPUs.
HP Pavilion g6 and g7
The Pavilion g Series take some of the features of the mainstream dv notebooks and repackage them into something a little more affordable. If you're looking for something a bit easier on the pocketbook, then the new g Series might be just what you need.
At pricepoints like this, it's hard to differentiate your product without cutting corners - so I was pleasantly surprised to see just how nice the new g6 and g7 looked and felt. These are perfect notebooks to get your high school or college student - affordable and colorful, and good enough to handle most computer tasks.
The materials are all plastic here, but the general design follows the same beveled edges as the more expensive models. The bowl-shaped keyboard cutout isn't new on HP notebooks, but it's an additional design flair, like the chrome-ringed speakers, that keeps the g line from feeling cheap. These machines will be available in a whopping five different colors - ruby red, linen white, sparkling black, winter blue and bright purple. The linen white looks especially nice, considering the price.
Speaking of the price, the g6 and g7 will start shipping on July 25th, starting at $479.99 and $549.99, repectively.
The new HP business PC lineup features some pretty outstanding machines. The EliteBook 2170p measures just 11.6 inches diagonally, but manages to to pack in up to 16GB of RAM, Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs, USB 3.0, DisplayPort, 750GB hard drives or 256GB SSDs, a backlit, spill-resistant keyboard, LTE or HSPA+, 5-in-1 memory card slot and a docking connector for powering multiple displays.
Perhaps most importantly, all that computation prowess comes in at under three pounds (2.89, to be precise) - which means slipping the 2170p into your carry-on bag won't be a problem. HP achieved that goal by dropping the optical drive, saving weight and allowing for more battery room. To that end, this guy will get you an estimated nine hours of battery life. The slightly larger 2570p (at 12.5 inches) gets you a bit more productivity by reintroducing the optical drive.
Since it's part of Hewlett-Packard's business line, the EliteBook (and all EliteBooks) offers a number of tools and security features that help protect you and your data when you're out and about.
Optional Self-Encrypting Drives can encrypt your storage and tie it to the hardware inside your notebook. If someone pulls the drive out and attemps to read it - no dice. HP's Disk Sanitizer wipes any sensitive information off of older drives before disposal or transfer, TPM Embedded Security chips allow for hardware security checks, Fingerprint sensors and Smart Card readers let employees log on without worrying about insecure passwords (or allow IT managers to double up on security measures), and Microsoft Security Essentials is even pre-installed.
Most of the rest of HP's EliteBook updates are nice, though not supremely memorable. The silver, industrial look remains the same, though that's hardly a criticism. Larger models, such as the 8470p and 8570p have been updated to Ivy Bridge CPUs and more powerful discrete GPUs - and now offer up to a day and a half on a single charge. That's right; with an optional Ultra Extended Life Notebook Battery, power users can snag up to 36 hours of runtime without needing to plug into an outlet.
The EliteBook p-Series did get one welcome upgrade, though - audio. This trend of consumerization in IT has pushed manufacturers to add more consumer-friendly features, like awesome speakers, to their staid enterprise lineups. The new EliteBooks get SRS Premium Sound PRO Audio, which means you won't need to worry about audio presentations or team VoIP calls sounding like complete, well, you know.
Easily the best business laptop shown off was the new HP EliteBook Folio 9470m. Taking cues from the first Folio and the company's recent Ultrabook push, the new Folio bears only a slight resemblance to its chunky EliteBook forebears. The new EliteBook Folio delivers a 14-inch screen, but measures only 3/4 of an inch thick. Despite that svelte exterior, it features VGA, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet and three USB 3.0 ports. Like the rest of the EliteBook lineup, you can snag hard drives or SSDs, HSPA+ or LTE, extended life and slice batteries, HD webcams and up to 16GB of RAM. You can also order the new Folio with a 24GB or 32GB mSATA SSD cache module, which is an affordable way to experience some of the speed that flash storage delivers.
Disappointingly, the new 9470m comes with a 1366x768 resolution, 14-inch display - and you can't upgrade to something with a bit more pixel density. Despite being a 14-inch notebook, the Folio weighs barely more than the little p Series laptops; the average configuration comes in at only 3.6 pounds. You also get a snazzy glass touchpad as well as a backlit keyboard, standard.
The ProBook line, which is targeted at business users who don't need quite the performance and robustness found in the more expensive EliteBook models, also received a number of updates. The new b Series are clad in a tungsten-colored metal finish that's designed to hide bumps and bruises. Despite the more affordable nature, the new ProBooks feel almost every bit as robust in the hand as the new EliteBooks do. The ProBook 6470b, 6570b are built with Intel vPro technology, while HP's 6475b uses more affordable AMD processors.
Built to entice smaller businesses to jump on board, the new ProBook s Series feature expensive-looking aluminum on top and rugged black plastic on the bottom. The ProBook 4340s, 4341s, 4440s, 4441s, 4445s, 4446s, 4540s, 4545s, and 4740s range in size from 13.3 inches for the 43XX models to 17.3 inches for the 4740s.
The EliteBook 2170p starts at $999, while the 2570p jumps to $1,099; both will be available on June 22nd. The 8470p and 8570p each start at $899, and ship beginning June 4th. The ProBook line will also ship on the 4th of June, with the 6470b and 6570b starting at $769, the 6475b at $669, and the new s Series at just $589. The innovative HP EliteBook Folio will hit in October for an undisclosed price.