HP announces a partnership with Bang & Olufsen
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For quite a while, HP's top-tier tablets and laptops were treated with Beats speakers, which delivered impressive sound in most of the devices we've reviewed. However, after Beats Audio was acquired by Apple last summer, it was only a matter of time until their collaboration with HP came to an end. The company was allowed to continue producing devices with Beats branding for a while, but even that will no longer be necessary: today HP announced a new partnership with one of the most renowned audio equipment manufacturers, the Danish firm Bang & Olufsen. The latter is facing difficult times despite returning to profitability two years after the 2008 economical crisis, and has recently announced a restructuring process that will see 125 full-time employees laid off.
Having its products in mainstream electronics should help Bang & Olufsen to improve their financial situation, since most of their professional lineup is unaffordable even for many wealthier consumers. Of course, it's impossible to make a laptop or a tablet produce the same sound experience as one delivered by B&O-made audio systems available in Audi's and BMW's most expensive cars - but, as demonstrated by Asus' ICEpower (also co-developed with Bang & Olufsen) or MSI's Dynaudio speakers, there's certainly room for improvement over thin, muffled sound that most consumer laptops suffer from.
On the hardware side, HP and B&O promise to minimize the amount of metal parts in the audio jack to reduce ground noise (hopefully this won't make the jack more fragile) and to custom-tune each device for best possible sound. When it comes to the software, the users will get a special audio control panel which will allow them to either choose one of the existing presets or manually configure the sound to their liking. HP's Omen, Spectre and Envy laptops and select commercial PCs will carry the main Bang & Olufsen brand but on HP tablets, Pavilion series PCs and audio accessories, the B&O Play (Bang & Olufsen's subsidiary) branding will appear instead. It is unclear at this point what differences in hardware and/or software this will entail. The first HP products incorporating Bang & Olufsen audio will be available already this spring.
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