HP upgrades Envy and Spectre x2 laptop lineups


— 11:35 AM on May 22, 2017

By most accounts, Microsoft has done a pretty good job of iterating and expanding its Surface hybrid tablet machines since their introduction at the beginning of the Windows 8 era. One of the original purposes of the Surface line was likely to provoke other Windows PC builders to explore novel form factors. If that was the goal, HP's refreshed line of portable PCs makes it look like Microsoft's push was successful.

The Envy x360 is built around a 15.6" touchscreen display compatible with Microsoft's Ink pen input technology. The panel is surrounded by a thin bezel that's part of a mission to keep the exterior dimensions small. The 360° hinge allows the machine to be used as a conventional laptop, a tent-style content-consumption screen, or as a tablet in a pinch.

A grab-bag of internals specifications is available, with everything from AMD APUs to combinations of Intel Core i7 CPUs and Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics cards in the mix. At least some models will be capable of supporting dual 4K screens through an HDMI 2.0 port and a USB 3.1 Type-C connector, though we suspect this capability is reserved for only the higher-spec versions. We must note that the AMD APUs on offer are last-generation FX affairs, and that HP calls the Intel chips "next-generation" units.

HP's more conventional Envy laptops are available in 13.3" and 17.3" sizes. Either way, the machines sport Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors with the same vague "next generation" description. Older Envy 13 machines were limited to members of Intel's substantially slower Core m CPU lineup. The 13.3" model is only 0.55" (14 mm) thick, and the Envy 17 is only a little thicker at 0.91" (23 mm). Both models have a lifted hinge design that uses the back of the laptop display panel as a foot to raise the rear of the machine for a higher angle for typing. The machine comes with Type-A USB ports and a Type-C connector that can be used for charging. Like the Envy x360, high-spec models with a Nvidia GeForce 940MX card can drive two 4K displays.

The most Surface-like PC in HP's refresh roundup is the Spectre x2. The Spectre x2 has a tablet form factor with a keyboard and touchpad assembly that attaches with magnets for the times when touch input and the included pen are not enough. The 12.3" Ink-compatible touchscreen has a Surface-like 3:2 aspect ratio. HP doesn't say what's the resolution but mentions that the display has six megapixels—simple math says the resolution should be around 3000x2000. Intel seventh-generation Core i5 and i7 CPUs with Iris IGPs are on offer. A fast charge feature allows users to charge the battery for 30 minutes to net eight hours of cord-free use. All storage options are solid-state offerings, with a 1 TB PCIe SSD sitting atop the pile. The rest of the details are pretty thin, but we know that a pair of USB Type-C ports will be included.

All four new machines are expected to start shipping in June, with starting prices ranging between $900 and $1050. Getting some of the fancier upgrades like large SSDs and discrete graphics cards will certainly add substantial bulk to the bottom line.

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