For keeps: A brief look at HP's PC lines

In the wake of Hewlett-Packard's decision to keep its PC business, here's a quick overview of its most popular PC lines.

HP ProBook 5330M is a sleek (just under an inch) 'prosumer' laptop covered in brushed aluminum.
HP ProBook 5330M is a sleek (just under an inch) 'prosumer' laptop covered in brushed aluminum. Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard's decision to keep its PC business means the world's largest PC maker is here to stay. So, what makes HP so big? To get an idea, here's a quick overview of its marquee PC lines. >

HP ships a lot of PCs. More than Apple, more than Dell. It does this by having a broad line of PCs blanketing the business and consumer markets.

EliteBook: This is the high-end of HP's business laptops. Most EliteBooks are designed to meet military standards (MIL-STD-810G) for vibration, dust, humidity, altitude, and high temperature. And are typically clad in aluminum. They use the fastest Intel 2nd Generation Core processors and feature mostly Intel HD 3000 or AMD discrete graphics, USB 3.0 ports, and a mobile broadband option. More often than not, these carry three-year warranties.

ProBook: This is a more economical line of business laptops, ranging from starting prices of $479 to $899. Some models like the ProBook 6565b use AMD processors, but most ProBooks use Intel chips, with a few also adding AMD graphics processors like the Radeon HD 6490M. Some lack features like Bluetooth. The ProBook 5330M is an exception: it is more akin to an EliteBook and comes with standard Verizon or AT&T 3G. Most ProBooks come with one-year warranties.

The Envy line offers metal chassis and high-end configurations like dual SSD, HDD drives.
The Envy line offers metal chassis and high-end configurations like dual SSD, HDD drives. Hewlett-Packard

Envy: is HP's premier consumer line. And it looks the part with metal alloy cases, the fastest Intel Core processors (up to an i7-2820QM quad-core), dual-drive configurations (an 878GB Dual Drive with a 128GB mSATA solid-state drive and a 750GB standard hard disk drive), and AMD discrete graphics.

Pavilion: the mainstream consumer line. Not a whole lot to write home about as far as standout features. But a lot of models are high on the bang-for-the-buck index. A $599 Pavilion dv6t, for example, gets you a 15-inch display, "metal-finish design," Intel 2nd Generation Core processors, Beats audio, USB 3.0 ports, and a 640GB hard disk drive. The line also includes little gems like the Pavilion dm1z series , a 3.5-pound 11.6-inch laptop that starts at $399.

Business desktops: Though not exactly in vogue these days, HP sells three lines of business desktops. These start at $369 and range up to $949. A number of desktop models are populated with AMD chips such as the Phenom II X4 and Athlon II X4 processors.

HP also make some pretty rockin' gaming PCs like the Pavilion HPE h8se.
HP also make some pretty rockin' gaming PCs like the Pavilion HPE h8se. Hewlett-Packard

Consumer desktops: The consumer desktop line is a little more interesting because of models like the TouchSmart 320m series, which is a basically a large touch screen with a keyboard. And there are some serious high-performance desktops too like the HP Pavilion HPE h8se series. This packs an Intel Core i7-970 six-core 3.2GHz processor, 10GB DDR3-1066MHz SDRAM, 2TB 7200 rpm SATA drive, and 1GB DDR3 Radeon HD 6570 graphics card.

The future? No doubt that HP is taking a good, long look at its PC lines. So, there could be some changes in the offing. But the core business PC lines are likely to remain in place.

And it's also a safe bet that HP will enter the Ultrabook market sometime in the coming months. That would a departure for HP, which has made thin-and-light laptops before (like the Envy 13) but nothing like the 0.6-inch thick Ultrabook designs hitting the market now from companies like Asus and Acer.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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