HP Spectre ultrabook differentiates with NFC, wireless audio

HP joins a gaggle of PC makers introducing ultrabooks at the CES show

Hewlett-Packard on Monday announced the Envy 14 Spectre ultrabook, which the PC maker is trying to distinguish from competition with fresh features such as NFC (near-field communications) and wireless audio.

The ultrabook has built-in NFC capabilities to pull data from mobile devices, and the wireless audio feature allows streaming of music to up to four wireless devices, said Marc Spier, HP's director of consumer worldwide marketing at the Pepcom event, which is being held alongside the Consumer Electronics Show that kicks off on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

The Spectre joins a gaggle of ultrabooks announced at CES by companies including Acer and Lenovo, each of which includes differentiating features. The ultrabook is a new category of thin and light laptops backed heavily by Intel, which earlier in the day said future ultrabook laptops would include new features such as touchscreens, NFC and voice recognition.

HP has a touch-to-share implementation of NFC in the ultrabook, Spier said. Users will be able to transfer data such as the URL (uniform resource locator) of a map or website information from an NFC-enabled mobile phone to the ultrabook.

HP doesn't expect people to buy the ultrabook specifically for NFC, Spier said. But as people experiment with NFC, it could possibly become an important complementary feature.

The Spectre has a 14-inch screen, but is designed in a typical 13.3-laptop frame, said a company representative at the show. The laptop is 20-mm (0.79 inches) thick, and weighs a shade under four pounds (1.8 kilograms).

The display itself is scratch and damage resistant, giving it a level of toughness, Spier said. The display shows images at a 1600 by 900-pixel resolution, which is higher than the 1366 by 768-pixel resolution found on many standard laptops today.

The Spectre demonstrated at the event ran on an Intel Core i5 processor based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. The laptop will support up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state drive storage. The port options include USB 3.0, HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface), Ethernet, and DisplayPort.

With prices starting at US$1,399, HP characterized the laptop as a "premium ultrabook," Spier said. The ultrabook will be available worldwide on February 8.

"We designed it from the outset for the customer uninterested in compromise," Spier said.

The company already offers the Folio 13 ultrabook, which is targeted at businesses and priced starting at $1,050.

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