HP goes high-end with two new Envy laptops

Ditching the Voodoo branding of the first Envy laptop, HP is aiming at the very upper ends of the market with its new Envy 13 and Envy 15 laptops, both announced today.

HP's slick new Envy 13. HP

Ditching the Voodoo branding of the first Envy laptop, HP is aiming at the very upper ends of the market with its new Envy 13 and Envy 15 laptops, both announced today.

HP calls the 15-inch version, "the company's fastest consumer notebook PC ever." The 1-inch-thick, 5.18-pound system will feature an Intel Core i7 CPU, four RAM slots for up to 16GB of memory, dual SSD hard drives, and ATI Radeon HD 4830 graphics. The display resolution is 1,600x900.

If that sounds like a lot of laptop, you're right--and it has a price to match, starting at $1,799 (and the highest-end CPUs, graphics and SSD drives could push it well beyond that).

The Envy 13 will offer the Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400, a 1,366x768 display, ATI Radeon HD 4330 graphics, and support an external DVD burner. At 3.7 pounds and a bit less than 1 inch thick, it starts at $1,699.

The 13-inch Envy starts at $1,699. HP

Both the Envy 13 and Envy 15 share a sleek new look, with aluminum and magnesium alloy bodies and a subtle etched pattern on the keyboard tray (and on the Envy 15, also on the back of the lid).

They also feature a large, clickable touchpad, similar to what you'd see on a MacBook. Unlike the Apple version, however, left and right mouse buttons, and a button to turn off the touchpad, are built into the pad itself. From our hands-on time with the system, tapping works fine, without the need to actually physically click the pad down.

The built-in audio, which we didn't get a chance to test when we saw the Envy laptops in person, is called Beats Audio, and was developed by the same team behind the popular Beats by Dre headphones, named after the music producer.

HP is also proud of its packaging for these laptops, which will arrive in minimal paper-based cartons. Documentation is limited to a quick setup poster--the rest of the user manuals are on an included SD card (which could also help in keeping documentation updated, without having to reprint booklets or add addendums).

From our brief hands-on time with the Envy 13 and Envy 15, they certainly seemed like slick, desirable high-end systems--but in the era of $299 Netbooks and similarly discounted mainstream laptops, there may be very few people in the market for ultra-high-end machines, no matter how cool they look.

 

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