NBC Onsite: HP bids Farewell to Luster
by Florian Wimmer 03/04/2010
New look and new technology
HP's new product design now focuses more on the so-called imprints and less on glossy coated surfaces – that is an insight from HP's new line-up, presented in Munich. Read in our column what else we found out for you onsite.
HPs notebooks have distinguished themselves more and more by their unique design in the past few years. This is especially based on imprinting the surface with patterns and sealing it. Apparently with success, because HP is planning to stick to this design idea in many upcoming models. Of course, mainly in the consumer division. The ladies and gentlemen from HP stated which models we can shortly expect at a press event in Munich.
First, the general market trends that HP sees as especially important at the moment were outlined: At the moment, the Americans are putting a lot of hope into product design and new ideas, such as the "Slate" to be released in June. It is supposed to be a competitor for Apple and its iPad. There was also talk about a mysterious "killer widget" in this connection, which is supposed to fuel up the device.
Mini-news about the consumer devices
A new model for HP's netbook family is added with the Mini 210 that exclusively uses Intel's Atom processors. AMD's new netbook platform isn't yet supported. More exact, an Intel Atom N450 processor, which clocks with 1.66 GHz, will be used. HP named the "Islandstyle" keyboard as a special highlight, which combines the angular keys with a chiclet layout. The 10.1 incher is already in retail in four different colors, which are red, blue, black and silver.
If you would have rather set on the sub-brand, Compaq, as the lower price division, there will now be notebooks in this field that wear the HP company logo. Whilst the HP G61 has already been available since January, two new devices are being released onto the market in April, which are to be representative of HP's new design line. The HP G62 is to stir up the 15.6 inch field, while the G72 is supposed to catch customers with 17.3 inches.
Whilst the G61 still came with a glossy black look, both the G62 and the G72 are to be dressed in the new color "Biscotti". HP covers the, soonest to be described as beige, case with an imprinted pattern of triangles. The quite inexpensive notebook, priced starting with 549 euro, looks unusually elegant.
Both laptops are equipped with current Core i3 chips from Intel, a DDR3 memory up to 4 GBytes and either an Intel Graphics Accelerator or a discrete ATI Radeon 5430 HD graphic card. Of course, the never omitted Altec Lansing loudspeakers are onboard, just like a Lightscribe DVD burner, with which special blanks can be laser-etched.
HP will implement a new technology into almost all consumer ranges: Thus, the Compaq CQ1 receives new and faster processors from AMD, the Pavillion dv6 and dv7 ranges will change to Intel's latest Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs and will be changed to the new Intel HM55 chip set or, alternatively, receive faster AMD processors.
The Pavillion dv3, equipped with a touchscreen, gets a renewed graphic solution from ATI. However, the chip set graphic will stay integrated. From now on, you will be able to switch between both graphic cards during use.
All Pavillion products are to be only equipped with modern LED backlit displays as of this year. Besides that, all notebooks of this range will only be equipped with hard disks, which bid a speed of 7200 revolutions per minute. For the first time, hard disks with a capacity of 640 GBytes are also to be available for the dv6 and dv7 range.
There is even quite a bit of movement in HP's quite new multimedia flagship, the Envy range: The Envy15 will get the new graphic card generation of ATI's 5000 range. Apart from that, the 15 incher is also the first HP notebook to support USB 3.0. HP had to integrate a self-developed chip, as Intel's chip sets don't yet support the new technology.
HP will also integrate the so-called Quick Web into both Envy products, which is known from various other manufactures in a similar form: You can change to an operating system usually based on Linux during the booting process or via a hot key, which starts significantly faster than Windows and bids access to popular functions, such as DVD rendering, internet surfing or simple word processing.
HP's new tablet PC, called HP TouchSmart tm2, is brand new. This device convinces, at least with its looks, with a size of 12.1 inches and a resolution of 1280x800 pixels, as well as an aluminum case with a floral etching. We'll have to wait and see if the reflective display will find many friends, though.
Intel dual-core processors with a low voltage provide for performance with a, hopefully, low power consumption inside. An ATI Mobility 4550 with a 512 MByte DDR3 RAM is onboard, just like a hard disk with a capacity of up to 500 GByte and 7200 revolutions per minute. A chiclet keyboard should take care of typing comfort and style and a 6 cell battery supplies 8 hours of runtime, according to HP. Only an external optical drive can be used, but HP has external DVD burners, with and without an integrated BluRay drive, in a matching design.
HP's TouchSmart tm2 has recently been released for starting at 899 euro.
Of course, HP wants to stir up some things in consumer notebooks, but there are also a few changes to be made in business notebooks in the next few months.
HP regards the integration of USB 3.0 into its laptops as an especially important technology trend in this field, just like the use of solid state drives. They protect sensitive company data a lot more reliably than normal hard disks because they aren't as shock susceptible and have a longer durability.
Even DDR3 1333 memories are to be used in many models. They have a higher clock rate and therefore also a faster throughput rate. HP promises up to 10667 MByte per second. Additionally, HP is betting on the integration of BluRay drives, which can record backups and large volumes of marketing material. A display port, which is especially important in professional fields, is supposed to be used in all new business notebooks as the digital monitor interface.
HP will also be using the newest technology for the laptops' core components, the processors, with Intel's 32nm CPUs and AMD's Tigris architecture.
The HP Power Assistant, which falls back on special hardware in the notebook and measures the power consumption, should be especially interesting for bigger companies. It can be copied and tied into corporate network systems for energy monitoring, allowing managers to get solid figures about the power consumption of every single PC and thus recognize savings potentials.
Pro or Elite?
HP's business notebooks are divided into two different ranges: The Pro range for professionals with low to normal requirements, and the Elite range for clients who demand the absolutely highest performance from their devices.
Nevertheless, there are also professional netbooks and mini notebooks in the Mini range, which is especially addressed at users from educational fields or which can be used as a secondary device. They have typical business features, like metal-reinforced structures or splash-water proof keyboards and of course security is a main issue.
The HP Mini 2102 is a typical representative of this class, as it's equipped with a matt 10.1 inch display, an Intel Atom N450 processor and Windows 7 starter. However, it will only be available for schools and projects.
In return, everyone can purchase the HP Mini 5102, which comes starting at 439 euro. In addition to the features of the Mini 2102, you receive a metal chassis, a complete HP software suite with all important security and comfort features, a full version of Corel Office, a docking port and, optionally, even a touchscreen for this price. So, the business features which HP adds into the small case are quite lavish. However, a review will have to prove if the processor and down-clocked RAM can deal with all these features.
Business and Entertainment
HP's ProBook S range wants to give users a notebook that can be used both for working in the office as well as at home for watching movies. So, the models of this range have an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor, Intel's HM57 chip set, optionally a matt or glossy display, up to 8 GBytes of RAM and optionally an ATI Radeon graphic card, instead of the integrated graphic chip set.
Both the 15.6 inch ProBook 4520s and the 17.3 inch ProBook 4720s will be available starting in April as business notebooks that are also equipped with multimedia keys for after work home use.
There's not been much movement in the ProBook b or ProBook m range for bigger companies. Merely the new Intel or AMD processors are used and, for the first time, HP's new LongLife battery will be available. Thanks to a new technology, HP can grant a 3 year long-term warranty on the battery's durability.
An elite partner for the office
Really big enterprises need highly standardized laptops on which data security is guaranteed on every single device. HP's EliteBook family has been conceived for this, and includes both classic office notebooks as well as ruggedized laptops with special protection features for outdoor use and tablet PCs.
The mobile workstations of the w range are at the top of these. They are equipped with the fastest Intel processors and up to 16 GBytes of RAM, as well as optionally ATI or Nvidia graphic cards. A new version of the 15.6 inch workstation is to be released this month: The EliteBook 8540w. A 17 inch EliteBook 8740w should also be coming up in the bigger class, but HP is still evasive on this issue.
HP's DreamColor display, based on the IPS technology and allegedly bids up to a billion colors, will also be available as of May. A reinforced device structure, complying with the military standard 810G, is supposed to guarantee that the expensive device is safe against incidents when engineers are walking over the construction site. But design isn't missed out on: The aluminum and magnesium case looks high-end, whereas the status LEDs might be just a bit too colorful. This might just be a suggestion that graphic designers are also supposed to use the workstations.
The included software also has various goodies for businesses: Via HP Skyroom HD, high definition conferences can be held, the HP Protect Tools Security Suite protects data against unauthorized access and loss, whilst Windows 7 Professional and an optional downgrade to Windows XP create the basis.
A short verdict
It's certainly welcome that HP distinguishes itself from the mass with the qualitative design of its G61 and G62 and uses new, creative incentives that are even fingerprint resistant in the consumer field.
We think, the integration of USB 3.0 is also pleasant, although Intel, as a chip set manufacturer, has forgotten to support the standard in its current generation. HP would still have backlog demand in the netbook sector. They aren't strongly represented here, but on the other side, this sector only has limited margins so that HP is probably holding back on purpose.
HP defends its good business notebook reputation with many innovations in business devices, which are sometimes sensible for smaller and sometimes for bigger companies, if they then will really work. In any case, reliable data about the power consumption via HP's Power Assistant for enterprises is a good thing, just like the planning-reliability with the durable battery.
Also interesting for all business users and ambitioned home users is probably the fact that HP bids a new interface for docking stations in its new laptop generation so that older docking stations can't be used with the current and future models.