What do a fanless PC and a motion-controlled laptop have in common? Nothing, really; just that HP is going to be first to market with both of these things. After teasing a fanless tablet back in June, the company has formally announced the Spectre 13 x2, which isn't actually a tablet so much as a hybrid laptop. Additionally, HP unveiled a special edition version of its Envy 17 notebook with a Leap Motion controller built into the palm rest.
Starting with the Leap Motion machine, this is truly the same Envy 17 that's already on the market, complete with an aluminum chassis, backlit keyboard and generous Beats branding. Except, you know, it has a conspicuous motion sensor below the keyboard, allowing you to control games and other apps using hand gestures. Per Leap Motion's requirements, HP includes a shortcut to Leap Motion's Airspace Store, where there are currently 100-plus apps and counting. (If you read our review, you know the selection is hit or miss.) Once you calibrate the sensor, you can turn the controller off by pressing the spacebar plus the Fn key; a small LED indicator will light up to let you know when it's on. Surprisingly, too, that the sensor doesn't add to the thickness of the laptop, as the module only measures 3.5mm thick (granted, a 17-inch machine probably has plenty of leeway inside the chassis). Look for it October 16th, with a starting price of $1,049.99 and your choice of Intel processors and NVIDIA graphics.
HP Envy 17 Leap Motion Edition hands-on
As for that fanless "tablet," the Spectre 13 x2 is a 13-inch slate with a 1080p display and a keyboard dock. It's a form factor you know well by now, except you're not used to seeing such a big-screen device without any vents cluttering up the back side. What's interesting is that this was ever billed as a tablet to begin with: at around 4.5 pounds with the dock it feels heavy in the hand, and is quite a bit heavier than your typical 13-inch Ultrabook. (On the plus side, the cold, aluminum chassis here has a luxurious, expensive feel to it.)
Like any premium Ultrabook, however, you get a 1080p screen, four to eight gigs of RAM and, of course, a Haswell processor (Core i3 or i5). Storage ranges from 64GB to 128GB, and can be found in the tablet only (read: there's no secondary drive in the dock). And, given that this is a Haswell system, battery life is also supposed to be very good -- HP rates it at up to 7.5 hours. As for how cool and quiet a fanless Haswell system runs, we'll have to revisit that in our eventual review. Look for the x2 to ship on October 16th, priced at $1,099.99 and up.
HP Spectre 13 x2 hands-on
But wait, there's more! HP also announced a regular Ultrabook, the Spectre 13, which replaces last year's Spectre XT. As the latest in the line, it's the thinnest and lightest, weighing in at 3.25 pounds and measuring 13.4mm (0.53 inch) thick. Additionally, HP decided to play with the color scheme this time, opting for a brown lid and champagne interior. Fun fact there: HP says that rather than use black or silver paint, it went with colors inspired by other luxury items. We're guessing they mean cars. That or handbags. At any rate, it's a good-looking machine, and the aluminum lends it a sturdy feel, though we'd be remiss not to point out that there are even lighter 13-inch Ultrabooks out there.
Also, take a look at our hands-on pics and you'll notice this guy has an extra-wide trackpad, and a weirdly shaped one too. Along either side of the pad, you'll see what HP calls "Control Zones" where you can make the usual Windows 8 gestures (swiping in from the right to expose the Charms Bar) and enjoy some tactile feedback. If you stick to the center of the pad, though, you don't have to worry about accidentally opening up the Charms Bar of swiping through to another open program. Granted, that's true of any trackpad, except here, the zones are more obvious.
Under the hood, the Spectre 13 has pretty much all the components you'd expect in a high-end Ultrabook: Haswell Core i5 / i7 processors, a nine-hour battery and up to 512GB of solid-state storage. HP didn't skimp on the display either: the base option is a 1080p panel, but a 2,560 x 1,440 screen will also be available. This, too, will ship on October 16th, with prices starting at $999.99.
HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook hands-on
Lastly (we're almost done here), HP announced the Pavilion 13 x2, a 13-inch laptop / tablet hybrid with either a Haswell processor or a quad-core AMD A6 chip. That'll hit on November 17th, priced at $599.99 and up.