By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. May 24, 2017
The natural progression of leading edge technologies starts in sophisticated high-end solutions before gradually working its way down into mainstream products and offerings. That is certainly the case with new generation Intel microprocessors, like the 7th generation Core CPUs the company announced earlier this year. But it’s also true of complementary technologies, including software, GPUs, displays, input devices and other components OEMs incorporate into their products.
Both strategic and practical considerations support this process. Strategically speaking, new technologies allow vendors to highlight their most innovative qualities in products designed for premium tastes and applications. On the practical side, the high prices commanded by leading edge solutions are most likely to be paid by two groups; 1) professionals who need every ounce of quality and performance next gen technologies, and 2) discerning consumers looking to up the quality of their gaming and entertainment experience.
HP rolls out the red carpet at Cannes
With PCs and laptops featuring Intel’s latest 7th gen Core i3, i5 and i7 processors now on their way to stores and online outlets, the next few weeks will be rife with new product announcements. In fact, at the Cannes Film Festival this week, HP introduced a portfolio of new premium Spectre x2, ENVY x360 and ENVY laptops that the company said are designed to meet the demands of professional artists and other digital creators. The new HP solutions include:
- Spectre x2 which features a CNC-machined aluminum chassis, dark ash silver coloring, stainless steel hinge and a copper kickstand. A 12.3” diagonal 3K2K (3000×2000) display (with 6 million pixels) is optimal for HD entertainment and provides a wider range of ambient light options for photographers and graphic artists. Other features include a durable detachable keyboard, 8 hours of battery life, HP Fast Charge and high resolution cameras: a 13MP rear camera, 5MP WDR wide-view front camera and an IR camera for Windows Hello biometric authentication. The Spectre x2 also supports a Windows Ink Certified pen that can be used to produce a wide range of artistic effects, from varying line weights to creating subtle shading and coloring.
- ENVY 13 and ENVY 17 laptops are designed for performance and productivity on-the-go. Both feature a durable metal chassis and finish offered in natural silver and silk gold, as well as an angular lift hinge designed to allow the fan to easily circulate air and offer a more comfortable typing experience. Both ENVYs are offered with a UHD display with more than 8 million pixels, quad speakers with discrete amplifiers and an HD WDR camera with wide viewing angels, allowing users to easily transition between creating and entertaining. An optional HP Secure Pad with embedded fingerprint reader and Windows Hello blends security features with convenience. Also optional are dedicated NVIDIA graphics features that enhance resolution, response rates and colors in the display.
- ENVY x360 is a redesigned 15.6” diagonal convertible that can be used as a laptop or a tablet in any environment. It features a micro-edge display, unibody aluminum chassis and fluid geared hinge, and is offered in dark ash silver and natural silver finishes. The ENVY x360 is certified for Windows Ink via a high precision N-tig stylus. An optional UHD IPS display provides over 8M pixels for watching videos or detailed editing. Along with Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, the x360 offers optional AMD A9, A12 and FX processors and up to 16GB of DDR4 memory
What can we conclude from HP’s new premium Spectre and ENVY solutions? A couple of things come to mind. First and foremost is the company’s focus on mobilizing high end graphics features and performance, a point where the new solutions appear to substantially succeed. While UHD displays, high resolution cameras and optional NVIDIA and AMD GPUs may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they are in line with the needs of many graphics professionals and high end content consumers. In other words, the audiences that HP hopes its new products will tantalize.
The new products also reflect the further mainstreaming of technologies and features whose initial introductions were fairly recent. Those include the Fast Charge feature and micro edge displays that HP offered with last year’s ENVY and Spectre laptops, as well as support for the latest versions of the Windows Hello biometric authentication and Windows Ink stylus input technologies that Microsoft incorporated in Windows 10. How compelling are these features? That will vary widely according to individual customers and use cases, but they’re all important features and options for select audiences.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about HP’s new Spectre X2, Envy 13 and 17, and ENVY x360 laptops. Like other productions spotlighted at the Cannes Film Festival, the eventual success of these products is hard to predict. But by focusing on the discrete mobile needs of digital content creators and premium content consumers, HP should attract both the respectful attention of potential clients and the enthusiastic assent of dedicated company customers.
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