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  (Source: HP)
Intel ultrabooks won't come with discrete graphics, you'll have to pay extra for that

Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) is the world's largest seller of personal computers and hence a key battleground for processor makers Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) and Intel Corp. (INTC).

Both companies' latest and greatest chip are on parade in a trio of new ultrathin lines unveiled by HP, a refresh to the company's "Envy" ultramobile brand.  Interestingly, the Ivy Bridge (Intel) and Trinity (AMD) notebooks have the same battery life rating from HP -- 9 hours (though of course real-world testing is likely to reveal a winner and a loser).

The AMD designs are substantially cheaper than the Ivy Bridge ones.  HP's most affordable "Sleekbook" line will first launch with higher priced Intel designs, but in June will be expanded to include less costly models powered by AMD's new Trinity accelerated processing unit (APU), which features "discrete quality" on-die graphics.

The SleekBook models are as follows:

HP Envy SleekBook (14-inches): May 9 launch
Price: $699 (Sandy Bridge) ~$799 (Ivy Bridge)
Weight: 4 lb
Thickness: ~19.8 mm
Screen: 14-inch 1366x768 pixel
Memory: 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Storage: 500 GB HDD
Connectivity: 802.11a/g/n, gigabit ethernet
Ports: HDMI, USB 3.0 x2, USB 2.0 x1, SD card reader
Extras: Beats Audio

(Note: This isn't an ultrabook, as it doesn't meet Intel's official spec, which requies an SSD or NAND cache.)

HP Envy SleekBook (15.6-inches): June 20 launch
Price: $599
CPU: AMD Trinity APU
Weight: 4 lb
Thickness: ~19.8 mm
Screen: 15.6-inch 1366x768 pixel
Memory: 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Storage: 320 GB HDD
Connectivity: 802.11a/g/n, gigabit ethernet
Ports: HDMI, USB 3.0 x2, USB 2.0 x1, SD card reader
Extras: Beats Audio

The actual ultrabooks from HP will come in two flavors -- the Envy Ultrabook, the mid-range model, and the Envy Spectre XT Ultrabook, the flagship model.

These designs are as follows:

HP Envy Ultrabook (14-inches): May 9 launch
Price: $749 (Sandy Bridge) ~$849 (Ivy Bridge)
Weight: 4 lb
Thickness: ~19.8 mm
Screen: 14-inch 1366x768 pixel
Memory: 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Storage: 500 GB HDD + 32 GB NAND cache
Connectivity: 802.11a/g/n, gigabit ethernet
Ports: HDMI, USB 3.0 x2, USB 2.0 x1, SD card reader
Extras: Beats Audio

HP Envy Ultrabook (15.6-inches): May 9 launch
Price: $799 (Sandy Bridge) ~$899 (Ivy Bridge)
Weight: 4 lb
Thickness: ~19.8 mm
Screen: 14-inch 1366x768 pixel
Memory: 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Storage: 500 GB HDD + 32 GB NAND cache
Connectivity: 802.11a/g/n, gigabit ethernet
Ports: HDMI, USB 3.0 x2, USB 2.0 x1, SD card reader
Extras: Beats Audio
HP Ultrabook
HP Envy Spectre XT (13.3-inches): June 8 launch
Price: $999
CPU: Ivy Bridge (third generation Core i-Series processor) 
Weight: 3 lb
Thickness: 14.5 mm
Screen: 13.3-inch 1366x768 pixel
Memory: 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Storage: 128 GB SSD
Connectivity: 802.11a/g/n, gigabit ethernet, 2x2 WLAN, Bluetooth 3.0
Ports: HDMI, USB 3.0 x1, HDMI
Extras: Beats Audio, Adobe System Inc.'s (ADBE) Photoshop (full), and Symantec Corp.'s (SYMC) Norton Internet Security (full)

Spectre XT black

The body designs for all the models are relatively similar with sleek brushed metal (black or silver available) cases colored in black or silver hues.  The Ivy Bridge models do not come with discrete graphics by default, but customers can pay extra to get a discrete GPU.  Larger hard drives or more memory are among the other customization options consumers can pony up extra cash for.

Ultimately, the AMD vs. Intel Ivy Bridge thin notebooks are shaping up to be much as what thought -- the Intel will be slightly thinner and lighter, but will be well over $1,000 USD with discrete graphics added.  By contrast, an AMD Sleekbook with matching performance (other than the slower HDD) will start at ~$600.  Build quality (packaging) will be almost identical for both competing designs, other than size and weight.

DailyTech's poll indicated that the majority of people would prefer an AMD ultrathin to an Intel one (the vote was nearly 2-to-1 with over 3,500 votes cast), given the price and graphics difference, assuming battery life and build quality were the same.  Of course the majority will have to wait a month to get their wish, while the vocal enthusiast minority can get their Ivy Bridge Ultrabook dream machine today.

HP's new ultrathins and similar ilk from rivals all closely parrot Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iconic MacBook Air design, which was arguably the first true metal body-encased ultrathin.  When the Air launched in 2008 many mocked its lack of an internal optical media drive and predicted weak sales.  After Apple wowed with MacBook Air sales, the tune quickly changed, as evidenced by the fact that the Envy Sleekbooks, Envy Ultrabooks, and Envy Spectre XT carry nary an internal optical media drive.

Sources: HP [Press Release], [Spectre XT Product Page]



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RE: IPS HD
By aliasfox on 5/9/2012 4:31:13 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just resolution, but color/contrast. My ex had an entry level 14" HP, perfectly fine for basic use, with the exception of that horrid screen. HP put the absolute worst low contrast TN display in there that washed out even if you were cheek to cheek with the person who was dead center. Even dead center, the screen's contrast was worse than the 15", decade old panel I have lying around as a backup screen. Heck, aside from brightness, it's worse than the near-decade old 12" PowerBook I have sitting in the corner - and the screen on that laptop wasn't known for being good even in 2003. I'd be surprised if someone told me that the contrast ratio on that HP was greater than 100:1.

It doesn't get any better when you turn up the brightness to usable levels - you just end up looking at a sickly pale off-white that represents white and a mid-grey to represent black, with all other colors crammed in between - makes the image on an iPhone Instagram picture look like it's a high quality, accurate, saturated image.

It doesn't need to be IPS, it doesn't need to be full HD - heck, you don't even need to put a MacBook Air level TN display in there (which is sadly the benchmark in the ultraportable realm). But for the love of everyone's vision, put in a display that isn't an embarrassment.


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