Hewlett-Packard is moving into the ultrabook game with its HP Folio, a super-thin 13.3-inch laptop with an advertised battery life of nine hours and the newest Intel Core processors.
Intel remains an aggressive driver of the nascent ultrabook category, partnering with a variety of manufacturers to issue devices that conform to the chip maker's specifications for the products. At the recent CEATEC conference in Japan, for example, Intel demonstrated ultrabooks with roughly similar design parameters from Toshiba (with the Dynabook), Acer (the Aspire S3-1) and Asus (the UX21).
Ultrabooks in many ways represent an attempt by Intel and those manufacturers to leverage consumers' increased interest in thin and portable devices, which has driven the tablet market to unprecedented heights. With its own TouchPad tablet plans reduced to smoking ashes, and its anticipated tablets running Windows 8 still some quarters away, HP is likely looking to remain a player in the more-mobile segment by any avenues available. That means products such as the Windows 7-equipped HP Folio, which weighs 3.3 pounds and includes a solid-state drive with 128GB of storage space.
But HP also wants to market products to a more high-end portion of the PC market, which is why it's also introducing a refresh of its Envy laptop line, specifically the new Envy 15 and 17.
The laptops feature Beats Audio technology, a part of an increasing number of tech products, including the recently introduced HTC Rezound. In a nod to how highly HP values the sound quality of its new laptops, the design features a prominent volume dial with the Beats logo on the edge of the keyboard frame. HP has also loaded the laptops with a backlit keyboard, with individual LEDs for each key.
HP recently announced it would keep its Personal Systems Group, reversing an earlier decision that would have potentially spun off the company's profitable manufacturing division.
"HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG," Meg Whitman, HP's CEO and president, wrote in an Oct. 27 statement. "It's clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders and right for employees."
In an Oct. 27 conference call, she told the media and analysts that HP's previous decision had "confused the market pretty dramatically" but that the company was moving to eliminate that uncertainty. "We're going to fight for every order," she said, alluding to PSG sales.