HP is back, and with a vengeance. Just a week ago, HP Inc showcased its latest products to hit Southeast Asia at its (also newly opened) HP Customer Welcome Centre here in Singapore. It’s not hard to tell that HP is determined to gain back the market share it lost along the years, and with its current product line-up, they stand a good chance at it.
One theme the HP executives were keen to drive home was that of ‘innovation’ and to ‘reinvent’. It has been a while since HP has taken their own tagline so seriously, but with their hard work in the past two years (after the HP Inc – HP Enterprise split), we are pleased to say that they have released a solid set of products. While none of the technology is ground-breaking (everyone seems to be ‘reinventing’ these days), HP’s offerings have well thought-through combinations of features, packaged in appealing form factors, for competitive prices.
Most of last year’s models have been refreshed with the latest hardware, improved battery life, and some with even better looks. You can already get your hands on these products, either at major electronics retailers, or from the HP Online Store directly.
For the Party Goers: HP Sprocket 2-in-1
If you’re not heard already, HP had earlier released a pocket-sized, battery operated printer – the Sprocket – which connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth to print out pictures on the spot, Polaroid-style. It’s a rather cute package, and retails for S$199. But now, HP has gone full Polaroid, and strapped a camera onto the Sprocket, to give you a S$239 Sprocket 2-in-1. In addition to printing photos from your phone, you can now take photos with the new Sprocket 2-in-1 itself and print them instantly. Photos are saved to an SD card, and you can even edit those photos through the app on your phone before printing. Coming out on 12 Nov, it makes for a cute gift, and a slightly geeky replacement for the classic Polaroid camera. (Polaroid themselves have a model, the Polaroid Snap, but it lacks some features like connecting to your smartphone to edit photos.)
For everyday use: HP Spectre Series
The newest generation of HP Spectre laptops pack immense power into an impossibly thin frame, which itself is beautifully crafted. For those who want the best of both worlds, the Spectre series won’t disappoint. The highest end model packs a 4K touchscreen, the latest gen Intel i7 quad core processor, 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. Pricing starts at S$2399 for both base models below, but you’ll undeniably be paying top dollar for the highest end.
At just 10.4mm thick, HP touts it as the world’s thinnest touchscreen laptop. The elegant CNC-aluminium and carbon-fibre frame comes in 2 options – the popular black and copper of last year, and a new ‘ceramic-like’ white and pale gold. Both models look amazing, especially the ceramic white variant – we’ve never seen anything like it. HP is also claiming an 11-hour battery life for the base model which (if true) would be an incredible achievement for such a thin laptop.
HP also showed us its 2017 update to the acclaimed Spectre x360. Essentially, it’s a slightly thicker Spectre 13 with an astounding 16 hours of battery life. And, of course, it’s convertible. However, it does have a few extra security features, like a fingerprint scanner, HP SureView (more on that later), and an IR camera for facial recognition. It also has a pen supporting pressure and tilt, for precise inking.
For Business: HP Elite Series
Sporting the popular ‘thin and light’ form factor, these notebooks aren’t very different from premium personal laptops (think stylish builds, great battery life, specially engineered speakers and full HD to 4K screens), though there is one factor that sets them apart – a strong focus on security. Besides fingerprint scanners and IR cameras, these laptops contain HP SureView, a screen privacy filter (that prevents prying eyes from seeing your screen when activated), and even come bundled with a smartphone app, HP WorkWise, that locks your PC and instantly alerts you to tampering attempts when you step away. Some of these features, like the fingerprint reader and HP SureView, seem to be optional on certain models, so do check carefully to make sure you’re getting all the features you wanted.
The Elitebook x360 is essentially a business-centric version of HP’s flagship Spectre x360 line. Interestingly, it seems to have the exact same specs as the Spectre x360. Sadly, you lose the two-tone chassis of the Spectre, though you gain certain software features like HP WorkWise. The starting models also retail for the same price of S$2399. Personally, we’d pick the Spectre x360 for its looks.
The EliteBook 1040 follows the traditional laptop form factor, but is designed for more demanding tasks – the base model itself supposedly runs an Intel i7 processor. Pricing starts at S$2299, and if you are willing to fork out a bit more, there is a host of upgrades available, including a quad core i7. Though it is supposedly available already, the HP Online Store doesn’t seem ready to sell it just yet.
As HP’s latest all-in-one PC for work, it was designed with a focus on video conferencing. Apart from a pop-up 2MP webcam and noise cancelling microphone array, you get HP’s standard Bang & Olufsen speakers and special collaboration buttons integrated into the stand (like starting a call, hanging up and muting). You get to choose between a 23.8” Full HD, 27” 4K or a 34” ultrawide, curved 4K display. (The screen can even be swapped out anytime with tool-less access, though we doubt we’d ever do that anyway.) So far only the 23.8” i5 version is out, at S$1899, though the other models supporting i7 processors and the bigger displays are scheduled soon. Again, the online store doesn’t seem to have any of the models just yet.
Apart from the updates to its current lineup, which were to be expected, HP has also completely redesigned some of its products and introduced other brand new lines. Most of these haven’t reached Singapore (or Southeast Asia) just yet, but HP reps assured us that they will be here by the end of the year. Perhaps it is true when they say that good things come to those who wait – these products are definitely the most exciting ones to hit the market in the near future.
For the Content Creator: HP Z Series
The Z series is all about raw power. Designed for the most demanding tasks – from media professionals to scientists, the Z series has its focus on stuffing in as much crunching power as possible.
HP ZBook X2
However, processing power is only half the story for the new ZBook, which will arrive here in Singapore this month. Completely redesigned from the original ZBook, the X2 comes in a tablet form factor with a detachable keyboard. The 4K, multi-touch, anti-glare display can even support 10-bit colour and offers calibration to 100% AdobeRGB. That’s a spec that is impressive for a standalone display itself – most semi-pro displays aimed at media professionals display 8-bit colour and offer 85-95% AdobeRGB coverage. Not only that, its pen has 4096 levels of sensitivity for pressure and tilt. Inking feels rather natural, as the display is matte, giving it the same texture as a dedicated drawing tablet. It also features customisable quick keys for (application specific) shortcuts, and is one of the last few PCs to still incorporate a full-sized SD card slot – a big plus point for photographers.
On the inside, HP effectively doubled the (maximum) storage and memory compared to its other laptops – the ZBook X2 supports dual-channel 32GB RAM and a 2TB SSD. It also packs a quad core Intel i7 processor and Nvidia Quadro graphics. All of this fits into a 14.6mm chassis which is designed to pass US Military Standards (MIL-STD 810G) and offer 10 hours of battery life. At S$2699 for the base model, it is no doubt pricey, but considering the specs, it will be a dream come true for artists and creative professionals.
With up to 56 cores and 3TB of RAM, the Z8 is, as HP calls it, the most powerful workstation on the planet. Its uses include realtime editing of 8K video, After Effects compositing and 3D simulations. The base model costs S$3499 and will be available in November, though we can only guess how much the max-ed out version will cost.
Z6 and Z4
For more realistic workloads, HP also offers these two models with less dizzying specs, but still more than enough room for upgrades. Overall, it’s a great buy for CAD engineers, video editors and VFX artists. The Z6 will be out sometime this month and starts at S$2999, while the Z4 is scheduled for next month and will cost S$2399.
For Gaming: Omen Series
Although you wouldn’t associate HP with gaming PC’s, they do offer the Omen series with competitive specs. But what we were more interested in is the aptly-named Omen Accelerator.
Like the Asus XG Station and Razer Core, it houses an external graphics card and optionally extra storage. It can connect to any Thunderbolt 3 enabled PC (at least from HP) to boost its gaming power, expand its storage and even charge it at the same time. The Omen Accelerator makes a lot of sense when you consider that most ultralight laptops already pack tons of processing power and RAM and just need a boost for graphics processing. You now have the option to transform your 10.4mm thin Spectre 13 into a high-end gaming laptop when you get home. Or game by night, on the very same Elitebook that you work on by day. In fact, hook that Accelerator up to a respectable gaming monitor and you’d effectively get a gaming desktop. Unfortunately, it isn’t available just yet, and there isn’t a release date either. But we do know it is coming soon.
For The Future
HP’s VR Tech
HP also showcased its cutting-edge Z VR Backpack, paired with the HTC Vive, which allows for a wearable VR solution. And unlike other VR solutions, you can walk around untethered. We got to try it out, and the VR experience is unnervingly realistic. So much so that in one of the games in which I was supposed to ‘jump’ from a skyscraper, it took more than a few moments for me to regain my composure and convince myself that it’s just a simulation! While the showcase was mainly playing simple games as a proof of concept, the possibilities are endless – 3D simulators for training, visualisation aids for CAD or, of course, good old gaming. The system is actually already available here in Singapore, albeit with a focus on industrial applications rather than personal use.
From business and coursework to design and gaming, no matter what your needs are, HP has a no-compromise, stylish yet powerful premium device to offer. That, of course, means you pay a premium price too (think MacBook prices), but if you’re out there for the best, you can rest assured that HP gives one of the prime combinations of absolutely everything for the price. For a tighter budget, they also provide some very worthy offerings, like the HP Pavilion and (blandly named) HP Laptop lines, though it’s also worth checking out other manufacturers’ budget offerings too.