Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

HP’s NFC-Equipped Ultrabook Comes to Market

You might recall that at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, Ultrabooks were all the rage.

You might also remember that a couple of those laptops managed to stand out from the crowd — including Hewlett-Packard’s Envy Spectre 14, which goes on sale today.

Showgoers were abuzz about the glossy, Gorilla Glass-coated Spectre — despite the fact that at almost four pounds, it weighs slightly more than some other ultra-thin, Intel-driven Ultrabooks. At $1,399, it’s 20mm thin with a 14-inch screen, supports up to 256 gigabytes of storage and boasts up to nine and half hours of battery life. It also has a backlit keyboard and “proximity sensors” that light up when a user is approaching the laptop and, naturally, it has HP’s Beats Audio built in.

Another notable feature is that it incorporates near field communication technology, like the kind we’ve been seeing in mobile phones for quick, one-tap payments. HP says that the NFC tech in the Spectre, which is built into the left side of the palm-rest area, will be compatible with NFC-enabled Android phones.

So, how will it work, exactly?

After downloading the HP Touch to Share app from the Android Market, Spectre owners that have an NFC-enabled Android phone will be able to transfer URLs from the Android phone to the Spectre using NFC. For example, if you’re browsing the Web on your phone, you can then tap your screen and transfer that page to the laptop’s Web browser.

You can’t currently share photos, music or other media this way, an HP spokesperson confirmed. And while NFC is often associated with e-commerce, that’s not the usage we’re talking about here. (Since the laptop isn’t a payment terminal, you can’t, for example, browse, see something you’d like to buy, open up a wallet app on your phone and tap the screen with your phone to pay.) But it is a way for smartphones to “speak to” the laptop without using wires or cloud apps.

The NFC market for mobile is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years, with IHS iSuppli forecasting 544.7 million NFC-equipped cellphones to be shipped by 2015 (from 93.2 million last year); it’s likely that we’ll see this tech coming to more devices outside of mobile phones and tablets.

Nintendo, for one, recently said it plans to bring NFC to its long-awaited Wii successor, where it will be used to transfer gaming data.

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