New HP all-in-one houses Alexa, provides power with wireless charging base

HP announced a slew of updates to its premium lines, adding new design patterns, better displays, and more power to most of its Envy and Elitebook devices. Arguably the most intriguing of the new devices is the Envy Curve all-in-one, a sleek addition to the Envy line that incorporates Amazon’s Alexa and wireless charging into its design.

All-in-one PCs continue to slim down as years go by, and HP’s Envy Curve AiO looks both elegant yet practical up close. Available in 27- and 34-inch models, the curved QHD, IPS display seems to hover in mid-air as it sits on a thin metal neck that’s attached to its solid black base. The back of the display has a “wood-grain finish,” a design attempt by HP to make the device fit in better with soft, natural home aesthetics.

Nothing’s particularly special about the base when you look at it, but inside are four Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers that sit upward at a 45-degree angle. This allows the sound coming from the PC to emit closer to your face and ears rather than your chest, making for a better audio experience.

Users of the 34-inch AiO will notice a blue light shining from a small section at the top-middle of the base when they say, “Alexa.” HP’s new AiO comes with Amazon’s virtual assistant built in, giving users another way to interact with the machine (it’s a Windows PC, though, so Cortana is also an option for those who prefer Microsoft’s assistant). HP announced its first PC with Alexa, the Pavilion Wave, back at CES this January. That device looks more like a hybrid between a traditional tower and a smart speaker, giving HP two different desktop designs with built-in Alexa that will undoubtably appeal to different types of users.

The Envy Curve AiO contains one other feature in its unassuming base: Qi and PMA wireless charging. Users can charge nearly any device, including the newest iPhones and Android smartphones, by sitting them down on top of the PC’s base. While HP isn’t the first to include a wireless charging base on an AiO, it’s a convenient feature that we’ll likely see on other similar devices in the future as more smartphones have wireless charging capabilities built in.

The Envy Curve AiO also includes other features users would expect from a high-end desktop: a pop-up privacy camera, a front-facing IR camera for Windows Hello biometric authentication, Core i7 CPUs, Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, dual storage with HDD and SSD options, and up to 16GB of RAM. Pricing hasn’t been released yet, but the Envy line is right below Spectre in HP’s premium tiers. We can expect the AiO to be expensive, especially considering the extra features like Alexa and wireless charging, but not as pricey as a similar Spectre desktop would be.

The other device to get Alexa integration is the Envy 13 laptop, which supports 8th-gen Intel CPUs, Intel UHD graphics, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 14-hour battery life all within its slim metal frame. While most top-tier device lines have embraced USB-C as the new standard, HP didn’t want Envy customers to have to live entirely within the dongle lifestyle, so it added a drop USB-A port to the Envy 13. Most of the USB-A port is open and visible on the laptop’s edge, but flipping down the piece of metal hugging it reveals the entire port, allowing users to connect thumb drives and other older accessories without using an adapter. On the convertible side, HP updated the Envy x360 13- and 15-inch devices to support the newest AMD Ryzen processors. Overall, HP seems to be bolstering the Envy line with as many premium features as it can while still keeping it a more affordable alternative to the Spectre family.

Elitebook family updates

HP’s Elitebook premium business line also has a new member: the Elitebook 1050 G1, which is the first 15-inch Elitebook in the 1000 series. It has all the security features that professionals need, including HP Sure Click, Sure Start, and Sure View, which lets users press one button to activate the privacy-screen settings that prevent others from looking over their shoulders to see what’s on their PC. It also has HP’s privacy camera that, rather than popping up like it does on the Envy Curve AiO, hides behind a shutter when you don’t want it to see you.

Even with that shutter, HP included an IR camera as well as a fingerprint sensor so users have all Windows Hello biometric options available to them. The Elitebook 1050 also has the power necessary for professionals, including hexacore Intel processors, optional Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, and dual SSD storage with RAID support.

We’re on the third generation of the Elitebook x360 1030, and HP managed to shrink the convertible’s footprint by 10 percent in the newest model. Now, the device has a 13-inch display in a 12-inch chassis design, with side bezels that are 50-percent thinner than its predecessor’s. The new display now reaches 700 nits of brightness and has an engrained anti-glare design that allows it to be used outside in direct sunlight without any problem. It’s compatible with HP’s new Tilt Pen stylus and also comes with a new pen-alert feature: move too far away from your pen while you’re toting the Elitebook x360 1030 and the device will alert you so you can go back and retrieve the pen.

The same Tilt Pen stylus works with the update Elite x2, HP’s detachable version of the premium convertible. The company also shrank this device down to fit a 13-inch display in a 12-inch body, while it also claims to have improved the kickstand to make the device easier to use on your lap. The updated Elite x2 now supports quad-core Intel CPUs and USB-C docking, and it has HP’s Sure View privacy screen built in.

The final addition to the Elite line is the new 14-inch EliteDisplay portable screen. It’s literally a 14-inch, 1080p, 16:9 laptop-style display without any computer hardware, giving users a lightweight, portable second-display option. It connects to your PC via USB-C, so you don’t need to plug it in elsewhere for the display to receive power. Measuring 9mm thick and weighing 2.2 pounds, it could be a good alternative to a bulky second display for those who don’t want to invest piles of money in another screen and who also want the freedom to easily move that screen around as they please.

Pricing and exact availability for all of HP’s new premium devices haven’t been revealed yet, but most new devices will be available by this summer.

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