HP Ups Its Innovation Game At CES 2017 With Updated x360 and AIO, New Sprout Pro, Game Display

By Patrick Moorhead - January 3, 2017
HP is doing a good job of focusing on growth and emerging areas while still supporting legacy markets for the volume it provides. HP is investing a lot into innovation and taking risks and it’s really starting to show with their latest products like the HP Spectre, HP ENVY Curved AIO, Folio G1, the Elite X3 smartphone. The premium Windows notebook and 2-in-1 market is growing and HP has amped up their premium notebook game over the course of the past few years more than any company I track. Those new products are paying off financially or, if nothing else, from an ‘innovator’ brand metric giving HP some technology leadership points with customers and channels. Many of these improvements have been driven by HP’s own ‘insights engine’ where the company listens and reacts to consumer input. HP wants these improvements to translate into net promoter score (NPS) which HP watches like a hawk.  This brings us to CES where HP updated a bevy of products as well as releasing some brand new ones. EliteBook x360- “thinnest business convertible” HP is leading CES off with a series of new products that build on the creative products that HP has been working on over the past few years and boosting their premium profile. The HP EliteBook x360 is one of those products, made for the  enterprise bringing durability, manageability and security along with it. HP says that their north stars are design, security, and collaboration to address a future workforce and workplace where millennials and their co-workers are more mobile and working together is both easier and more challenging in some ways more than ever before. I believe the better the tools that IT provides and the more consumer-looking and acting they are, the less likely their employees will bring their own devices and create more security challenges. HP says the EliteBook x360 is the thinnest business convertible in the world at 14.9mm, which should come as a relief for a lot of business users looking for a convertible. HP also says that it clocks in a battery life of 16 hours, which I believe will be closer to 10 hours of continuous use. That claim, along with the 50% charge in 30 minutes’ claim are both impressive for virtually any notebook, let alone a business convertible. Businesses will appreciate the legacy ports even though it comes with Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type-C which brings two different and future technologies with a single port. HP products have worked flawlessly over Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C for me, unlike other vendors. Security can be sexy, right? The EliteBook x360 may be sexy, but HP has added an incredible amount of security features that really shouldn’t be overlooked. The third generation of HP Sure Start adds runtime intrusion detection to mitigate root-kit and malware attacks. HP has also included hardware-based multi-factor authentication (MFA) with an infrared camera and fingerprint sensor which combines face and fingerprint biometric factors. It also has an optional Sureview built-in screen privacy protector, a visual, physical data protector. HP has also included HP Workwise, an LBA security and authentication solution for smartphones as well to add to the already beefy security offering. I am very, very impressed with what HP has brought to the table with these security options for the new EliteBook x360. The EliteBook x360 will ship in the end of January sporting a Core i7 processor with vPro as well as up to 16GB of memory and a 512GB PCIe SSD. Updated Spectre x360 15 convertible The Spectre x360 15 is narrower (20mm) version of the 2016 model with updated components and discrete graphics. The new Spectre x360 15 changes the Spectre x360 quite a bit by reducing the overall footprint of the notebook while only adding only 1.9mm of thickness and less than a half a pound of weight. However, because of the added thickness, the laptop can now ship with a UHD display standard and a more than 20% better battery life than the previous year’s model thanks to the 79.2 Wh battery. HP also went with a narrow bezel like Dell, but kept it a bit thicker at the top to accommodate a top-end webcam. I personally loved the Spectre 13, but have never used a Spectre x360 15. It ships with a standard Intel Core i7 configuration with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB PCIe SSD and discrete graphics from NVIDIA in the form of a GeForce 940MX. It also has Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C ports as well as a single Type-A port and SD card slot, all the connectivity you could ever need. The Spectre x360 15 screams premium consumer all the way and will be available starting February 26th starting at $1,279. I can’t wait to spend time with this bad boy. ENVY Curved AiO The HP ENVY Curved all-in-one (AIO) is a premium AIO from HP that I didn’t’ think got a lot of attention when launched. It’s very, very cool and differentiated from other AIO PCs as the display ‘floats’ on a piece of metal which happens to be the PC itself. Sound familiar? The ENVY Curved AIO PC also features Bang and Olufsen integrated speakers with directional audio which continues HP’s premium experience story. The 34” display produces a resolution of 3440x1440 with a 99% sRGB color gamut and Technicolor color certification. Expect systems like the ENVY and the ENVY itself to get more attention as Microsoft Surface Studio should breathe more life into the market. Apple has also committed to doing more desktops, so we could see an interesting revival of the desktop AIO market. What makes the HP ENVY Curved AIO so interesting is that it also integrates technologies like wireless charging and Windows Hello via HD IR webcam for quick authentication and login. The new HP Envy Curved AIO is really in the class of the desktop of the future and I can’t wait to see what other things come from this category. Omen X35 curved gaming display HP recently reintroduced the Omen gaming brand and is continuing to give it their full attention. They’ve even showed off a VR backpack gaming PC via the Omen X VR backpack PC earlier this year. HP is continuing to target the high-end PC gaming market with the Omen brand of gaming products with their new Omen X 35 curved display. The Omen X 35 is a 35” display with a ridiculously thin 6.87mm bezel on three of the display’s sides and a 21:9 aspect ratio and NVIDIA G-Sync display refresh technology. This monitor, like many other 21:9 and ultra-wide displays features a 3440x1440 resolution, which is supported by many games now. The Omen X 35 curved display will be available March 12th for pre-sale on HP’s website and in-store later in March. I want one of these. Second-generation Sprout Pro Last but certainly not least is the new second-generation Sprout Pro, their unique platform for the “creatives”. Sprout is the company’s own concept to address the blended reality concept they coined before anyone else two years ago when they released the original Sprout. Now we have mixed reality, merged reality, augmented reality and virtual reality and HP’s blended reality. However, consumers shouldn’t confuse HP’s concept with the other because it addresses a very different set of problems. After two generations, HP has learned a lot and integrated many of those lessons into the Sprout Pro G2. HP is no longer hiding Windows anymore versus the original Sprout with Windows 8 which makes the Windows 10 experience better. The mat portion of the Sprout is now touch-enabled and full HD, which makes the experience even more engaging especially with 20-point touch capability. The HP active pen is also upgraded to support 2,048 levels of pressure on the touch mat. You can also hold objects in your hand for quick capture, making the entire process of scanning something into the Sprout much faster and simpler. I really like HP’s new vertical approach targeting education, manufacturing and retail kiosks. I used the original Sprout and I’m hopeful a third time’s a charm. The new Sprout Pro by HP G2 will also ship with an Intel Core i7 processor, 512GB SSD, 1TB SSHD, and NVIDIA GTX 960M as well as up to 16GB of RAM. The Sprout Pro by HP G2 will be available in March for an undisclosed price. Wrapping up I really like the HP I am seeing nowadays and they really seem to be doing a lot of things that make sense both in terms of business and consumer. I have to surmise the split was good for HP Inc as I see more risk taking, they’re making good money at it, and they’re gaining unit share in a virtual tie for highest share. They’ve taken their consumer design innovations and are applying it to their business products and their expertise in security and bringing it to consumer which is so ironic. I am excited to try some of these new products in person at CES and hope to have some feedback about their experience as well as whether they make worthy upgrades.  CES will be quite crazy, but I’ll do my best to try them all out before the show’s over.
Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.