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HP announces Envy ultrabooks, 'sleekbooks,' business-targeted EliteBook Folio

How inexpensive can an ultrabook get? For HP, today's answer is $749 -- or, if you're considering an AMD "sleekbook," $599.

Scott Stein

Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processors are causing a ripple effect in the lineups of laptops everywhere, and HP's freshly unveiled series of ultrabooks, "sleekbooks," and professional slim laptops reveals that thin's spreading beyond ultrabooks.

Of particular interest is the fact that HP's consumer line of ultrabooks is falling entirely into the Envy brand, which was previously exclusive to higher-priced laptops optimized for Beats Audio.

Call them fauxtrabooks, call them sleekbooks, call them ultrathins: these new 14- and 15-inch ultrabooks along with AMD-powered ultrabooklike laptops are bound to create some consumer confusion. But, based on limited time with these systems, they're also likely to make a lot of people happy: these thin laptops are actually impressively affordable. Let's hope it's a trend.


HP Envy Spectre XT
HP's new 13-inch Spectre XT has a look that falls somewhere in between the HP Folio 13 and HP Envy 14 Spectre, and even looks a little like the Dell XPS 13. The Spectre XT drops the Gorilla Glass-covered look of its 14-inch sibling, opting instead for a more traditional all-metal body. The 3.07-pound, $999 ultrabook has HDMI, USB 3.0, an Ethernet port, and an SD card slot, along with a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) and a third-gen Intel Ivy Bridge processor. Despite its smaller size, the Envy Spectre XT also has a quad-speaker audio system to go with its Beats Audio. The Envy Spectre XT will be available on June 8: you can read more about it and see a hands-on video here.


HP Envy Ultrabooks
As we've often noted with consternation, the term "ultrabook" now applies to 14- and 15-inch laptops as well as 13-inchers. HP's newest Envy Ultrabooks are the latest to exhibit that trend. These 14- and 15.6-inch laptops look like larger cousins to the Envy Spectre XT, with a design that's reminiscent of the HP dm4. Beats Audio, included as always, will be supported with dual speakers and a subwoofer (a first for an ultrabook, as far as I can recall). The Envy Ultrabooks will be as thin as 19.8 millimeters and weigh less than 4 pounds, fitting within Intel's guidelines for larger ultrabooks.

The most impressive part of these new ultrabooks is their price: outfitted with second- and third-gen Intel Ivy Bridge processors, the 14-inch Envy Ultrabook will start at $749 while the 15.6-inch version will start at $799. Included in those configurations will be a 1,366x768-pixel-resolution display (in both screen sizes), 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive with 32GB of SSD cache. Ports include two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card slot.

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There will be configurations with hybrid hard drives and SSD drives, with the SSD priced as an upgrade. If going with a mechanical hard drive can lower prices on ultrabooks, then it might be a welcome way to ease these systems into the mainstream. None of the Envy Ultrabooks have DVD drives, but there will be optional dedicated graphics upgrades. The HP Envy Ultrabooks are available starting May 9.


HP Envy Sleekbooks
What about ultrabooklike laptops featuring AMD processors? Enter the term "sleekbook," coined because "Ultrabook" is an Intel trademark. HP Envy 14- and 15-inch Sleekbooks will be available with next-gen AMD processors (APUs) in an identical chassis to the Intel versions (the ultrabook versions will have a red base), along with a lower price. The 14-inch HP Envy Sleekbook starts at $699, and includes a 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM. The 15-inch Envy Sleekbook starts at only $599, and has a lower-capacity 320GB hard drive. All Envy Sleekbooks will be available on June 20.


HP EliteBook Folio 9470m
HP's first enterprise ultrabook, the EliteBook Folio, has a lot in common with the HP Folio 13, while being even more geared toward business use. The 14-inch laptop weighs 3.6 pounds, is 19mm thick, and has a user-replaceable battery along with an optional extended battery. Like other EliteBooks, the Folio 9470m has a dock; it also has plenty of onboard ports and connections, including USB 3.0, VGA, Ethernet, and optional 4G wireless.

The appeal for enterprise, of course, will be the EliteBook's TPM security chip, along with a third-gen Intel vPro CPU and built-in fingerprint reader.

The EliteBook Folio hasn't been given a specific price yet, and will be available in October.