HP's New Ultrabooks And Elitebooks: Sleek And Light And Crapware-Free

HP's refresh of its product lines will include a slew of new ultrabook models with Sandy Bridge processors, Beats Audio and sold metal bodies. Also a new feature: No "Crapware", according to HP.

The flagship of the new line is the Envy Spectre XT; unlike the previous Spectre which featured a whole lot of rather smudge-prone glass, this is an all-metal body laptop with an unusually protruding touchpad. From my brief hands-on time with the laptop — which involved a certain amount of elbowing of the six hundred or so other journalists at HP's Global Influencer Summit in Shanghai — it certainly seems responsive, but the way my fingers glided to the touchpad and then hit the edge was a little odd.

The Spectre XT measures 14.5mm thin, weights 1.39kg with a 13.3 inch display. On the software side, HP's Jim Mouton stated that they're no longer in the business of "crapware" stating that the new models will come with "value added software, not malware or crapware."

So what does that mean? For the new ultrabooks, it means a two year subscribed version of Norton Internet Security as well as full versions of Photoshop Elements 10 and Premiere Elements 10. The Spectre XT is expected to go on sale from mid-June; it's stated with a US price of US$999.99, although HP's Australian representatives told me that the Australian pricing may be a little different.

The Envy range of Ultrabooks also get a refresh; again Sandy Bridge processors are present — Ivy Bridge models are expected "later in the year" — as is the option of either a black or quite eye-catching red base. The new Envy Ultrabooks come in 14 and 15.6 inch models, and like much of HP's new notebook range, feature prominent Beats Audio logos and extensive speaker grilles. In a room with that many muttering journalists it was all but impossible to get a real feel for the audio quality of these systems, however.

Availability is said to be imminent with prices starting at $699.99. There's also a range of what HP's calling "Sleekbooks"; these are essentially Ultrabooks that don't quite follow the Ultrabook recipe to the letter, whether that's the use of discrete graphics or — blasphemy to the Ultrabook standard — AMD processors.

On the business side, there's a new Elitebook Folio product; this is a 19mm thin model with an optional battery slice that brings up to a claimed twenty hours of battery life. It's not due to appear until October, with no announced pricing at this stage.

Alex Kidman travelled to Shanghai as a guest of HP, and could badly use a can of Coke right now.

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