Almost 500 journalists across the globe joined HP last month at the Global Influencer Summit in Shanghai, China, to witness the company unveil close to 80 new products in the consumer, SME and enterprise space. TechSmart was on-hand to get the scoop.
After recently regaining the number one spot for top PC vendor, HP has come out in full force at the Summit, with a strong emphasis on their range of second generation ultrabooks. Both consumer and business users are catered for with the new line-up, but the company has also diversified its range by including larger 15.6" models.
HP Envy Spectre XT
The Envy Spectre XT was hot property during the event, with every journalist jostling for hands-on time. It certainly cannot be criticised for its appearance, sporting a full-metal brushed aluminium design, while weighing in at only 1.395 kg with a thickness of only 14.5 mm.
This 13.3" device comes with a 256 GB solid state drive for quick boot-up and performance, with the model we saw boasting an Intel Core i7 3667U processor running at 2 GHz, and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. HP believes that a single charge will grant more than eight hours of battery life, which amounts to an average full working day.
To distinguish the Spectre XT from the rest of the ultrabooks in the market, HP is including some interesting offerings. These comprise of full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Adobe Premiere Elements 10, while two years worth of Norton Internet Security is also part and parcel of the package.
The company further mentioned a Concierge Service Hotline for technical support, but whether this will be supported locally remains to be seen. No local release info is available yet.
HP EliteBook Folio 9470m
Although the HP Folio 13 has just arrived in SA (see review on p14), the new EliteBook Folio takes enterprise-focused ultrabooks to the next level. The 9470m's 19 mm frame and 1.58 kg weight might not compete favourably against other skinnier models available, but the number of onboard ports will no doubt make this machine well-loved with IT managers.
Full-sized Ethernet, optional built-in wireless WAN, a VGA port for legacy monitors and projectors, a DisplayPort and three USB ports (two of which are 3.0) can all be found on the side of the device, while this ultrabook can also be docked. Additional features include an integrated smart card reader, fingerprint scanner, embedded TPM security chip as well as HP BIOS Protection and HP Premier Image, which further includes business software and antivirus protection. The 14" EliteBook Folio makes the most of its onboard battery, offering nine hours worth of usage according to HP, and unlike a number of other ultrabooks, users can replace the battery themselves when it becomes depleted. This machine is only expected to make an appearance in October, with no price available yet.
HP Envy ultrabooks
Our personal favourites of the event were HP's sleek Envy ultrabooks, especially in the menacing black-and-red guise. We were glad to see 15.6" model released next to a 14" version, since for many the smaller sized ultrabooks are not the most effective.
More appealing for those who desire a bit of gaming on their ultrabooks, is that the machines are also available with graphic solutions, in the form of AMD Radeon 7600 series GPUs.Both the 14" and 15.6" version include Beats Audio, and thanks to two speakers and a subwoofer, we found the sound much better than on HP's Spectre XT ultrabook.
Unfortunately, the machines pull the scales at a slightly heavier 1.75 kg (14") and 1.93 kg (15.6"), and are also available in a silver-and-black version. The HP Envy ultrabooks are expected to be available locally in June, starting at R9000. [MJ]
What, no tablets?
As the Summit progressed, it became increasingly clear that HP did not intend to release any info on their upcoming tablet line-up. We know this much - the next range will run on Windows 8 (also part of the reason for the no show, since Microsoft has not provided a launch date for W8 yet), and, according to a spokesperson at the event, their new tablets will contain very important distinguishing factors. We'll keep you updated.
Staging the HP Global Influencer Summit in China was not a random choice. China has recently overtaken the US as the world's largest PC market and is in the cross-hair of every major PC manufacturer, including HP. But the company has a big mountain to climb, since the Chinese giant, Lenovo, currently has majority market share (35%) of their backyard neatly tied up.
But what about Africa?
So where is Africa in all of HP's plans? In the final Q+A session, HP CEO Meg Whitman mentioned that HP is committed to Africa, drawing special attention to the markets of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. Whitman also stated that she believes Africa is where China was 20 years ago. Only time will tell if we'll see 2032's Global Influencer Summit being held in Johannesburg.