Your current laptop probably feels and works good enough, maybe even great. No matter: HP wants to replace it. And it has just the product for you – eleven of ’em, to be precise.
At a day-long event in New York City, the world’s leading laptop maker unveiled a dizzying array of products that amounted to a complete revamp of its entire premium portfolio of laptop and convertible 2-in-1 products in the Envy and EliteBook lines, as well as a smattering of interesting accessories – monitors, docking stations, and a classy as hell all-in-one computer with a staggering 34-inch screen and Alexa built right into the base station.
It’s important to note the word premium above. HP has five laptop brands; the unveiling focused on the two “premium-est” premium brands. That’s the consumer-focused Envy lineup, and the commercial-focused Elite products. The company glossed over recent changes to the ZBook line, which is aimed at creative professionals, and only briefly touched on updates to the gaming-focused Omen products. The Spectre brand (also top of the line stuff) was mentioned, but not updated.
HP says it aimed to bring innovations introduced at the high end of its product portfolio down to more mainstream models, and it envisions more consistency across product lines. All of it is meant to address younger users who have very different ideas of what work means – and how technology should enable it.
“It’s not that crazy to work from everywhere right now,” explained Rachel Sumekh, CEO of Swipe Out Hunger, who spoke on a panel at the event featuring members of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. “A typical day for me is anywhere from 12 to 14 hours,” explained Karan Jerath, another panelist.
Across the new products, you’ll see several elements touching on a few big themes.
Privacy: In 2016, HP announced that it was building 3M’s privacy screens directly into its laptops. We tested them out at the time, and if you’re into privacy, you’ll find them pretty awesome. That said, the technology was limited to lower resolution displays. The new lineup includes a second generation Sure View filter that allows for more vivid colors and supports brighter, higher resolution screens, although it still doesn’t work with 4K.
Security: Thanks to a custom chip on the motherboard called the HP Endpoint Security Controller, HP claims to have baked in security. It powers things like HP Sure Start, a “self-healing BIOS” that makes it easier for you to recover from a corrupt BIOS or a faulty system image. Several models also include a physical shutter over the laptop camera.
Speed: An HP Fast Charge feature on several models works akin to fast charging on your cell phone. Rather than sipping from the outlet to charge your laptop over the course of several hours, HP’s laptops can chug DC current to rapidly charge the battery. The Envy x360 15 goes from zero to 50 percent in about 45 minutes for example – something anyone with a brief layover in the airport will appreciate.
Collaboration features: HP unveiled keyboards designed for collaboration two years ago — they include dedicated keys to answer and place calls, reply to texts, and so on. Collaboration is a key part of the laptop, so this year the company revealed “world-facing mics” on several products. This is a third microphone on the cover of the laptop, facing the world when the display is open. It helps the system correctly cancel out ambient noise. Look for HP PhoneWise as well, software to lets you integrate your phone with your laptop. You can read and reply to messages and even place calls directly from your laptop.
Inking: A new generation of pens is available for some models, which include tilt sensors to support delicate shading work and have a button on the end to launch apps via Bluetooth. They also include a clever design touch — slide the pen open to reveal a USB Type C port for charging. There’s also a proximity alert, to prevent you from leaving the pen in a conference room.
Design: HP has attempted to improve the look and feel of its laptops across the board, with a move toward higher end, CNC-machined aluminums and a more premium look and feel. It’s noticeable, and something customers will certainly appreciate. There are also design flourishes of note throughout the line. HP’s Envy laptops have a unique pattern discretely laser etched on them to replicate the look of Damascus steel, a pattern often seen on fancy chef’s knives. And the Envy all-in-one’s base has a subtle woodgrain pattern.
It’s also worth noting how many of these systems include some form of discrete graphics. While HP didn’t focus on gaming – that’s what the Omen brand is for – these laptops can let their hair down when it’s time to have fun. We’re pleased to see discrete graphics fan out across HP’s product line, as it ultimately means a better overall experience for everyone who buys one.