Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

HP Expands Ultrabook Line, Unveils “Sleekbooks”

Hewlett-Packard is lightening up — and slapping a new name on a line of laptops.

The PC maker has introduced new Ultrabooks that challenge the weight and size of its earlier entrants into the market. And it has also unveiled a new line of “Sleekbooks” that undercut the price of Ultrabooks and, in some cases, use chips from Advanced Micro Devices, therefore excluding them from the Ultrabook family.

First, there’s the Envy SpectreXT, a follow-up to the Envy Spectre 14 Ultrabook. The Envy Spectre 14 is more of a premium Ultrabook, due to its glass coating, $1,400 starting price point, preinstalled Adobe and antivirus security software packages, and the fact that it weighs just under a whopping four pounds.

The SpectreXT, in comparison, is 13.3 inches, weighs just 3.07 pounds, is 14.5mm thick, and has an all-metal body. It comes with an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and, like the Spectre 14, claims a long battery life of up to eight hours (although in my review of the Spectre 14, I got about five hours of battery life with programs running, power-savers turned off, and display set to full brightness).

The Envy SpectreXT also comes with Beats Audio, has an Ethernet port in addition to a USB port, and comes with the aforementioned software packages. It will be available in the U.S. on June 8 for $1,000.

HP also introduced new Envy-branded Ultrabooks, available in larger 14-inch and 15.6-inch models, also with Intel’s latest processors. The laptops are, at their thickest, 19.8 millimeters and come with a choice of solid-state or hybrid hard-disk drives.

What’s more interesting is this new category of Sleekbooks. The only notable difference between Ultrabooks and Sleekbooks, aside from price, is their chipsets. The former are thin and lightweight laptops, categorized as such due to an Intel-driven set of technical specifications, as explained here. The HP Sleekbooks are also thin and light, but feature chips from AMD.

The new 14-inch Envy Sleekbook will ship on May 9 for $700; the 15.6-inch model is just $600 — less than half the price of some other Ultrabooks on the market, and significantly less than the starting price of $999 for Apple’s MacBook Air. Both come with the latest AMD processors, with optional discrete Intel graphics built in for heavy multimedia users. Sleekbooks also claim up to eight or nine hours of battery life.

And for business users, the new HP EliteBook Folio 9470m will come to market this fall. This laptop has a 14-inch screen, but is slightly thinner than the Envy Ultrabooks and weighs 3.6 pounds. Another addition to HP’s enterprise offerings is the EliteBook 2170p Notebook, which has an 11.6-inch display, weighs 2.89 pounds and comes with solid-state drive options.

As HP notes, these laptops are “the first show of resolve” for the new HP Printing and Personal Systems group. Back in March, AllThingsD’s Arik Hesseldahl had the exclusive story on the company’s sweeping reorganization, which moved the Imaging and Printing Group under its PC-making Personal Systems Group, with Executive Vice President Todd Bradley in charge of the new unit.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik