HP pushes design envelope with 10.4 mm thick Spectre

HP’s new Spectre is a consumer product, so won’t be sold by the channel, but it of channel interest because of some interesting design decisions made to create the world’s thinnest notebook – while still using Core i5 and i7 processors.

HP Spectre 13.3_right facing paired with wireless mouseToday HP Inc. unveiled the new HP Spectre, along with other elements of its Premium portfolio. The new machine – HP’s highest-end consumer laptop – checks in at 10.4 mm in width, which for the moment at least, makes it the thinnest laptop on the planet.

“This is the next step in the reinvention of our premium notebook space,” said Mike Nash, vice president of portfolio strategy and customer experience at HP Inc. Nash told a virtual press conference announcing the new products that their strategy for HP’s reinvention includes making sure their core businesses deliver the right products at the best price-feature value.

“In the premium space, our strategy is to drive meaningful innovation, particularly true disruptive innovation that hasn’t been seen as possible in the past,” he said.

Nash said that because customers in the premium space pay a premium, the expectations are high. In particular, they expect the conveniences of other devices like smartphones and tablets in their notebooks. That means that they want things like an all-day battery, under 4 lb. weight, being super thin, and an instant-on experience, and if they don’t get them, they are easily disgruntled.

Nash said that HP has had very positive customer response to the Spectre since the Spectre X380 launched in Q1 15, including the 15 inch version of Spectre that has been in the market for a month. Despite its’ larger screen size, it is under 4 lb in weight.

“It has 4.7/5 feedback on BestBuy.com,” he said. “We are obsessive with looking at customer feedback and understanding the issues that they have.” In designing this machine, HP asked customers how they ranked the respective importance of being thinner and lighter over having touch capability.

“Two thirds preferred thinner and lighter,” Nash said. “That’s true across price points, generations and OS loyalty. So we built a device that’s 10 [10.4] mm thin.”

Nash said that while customers could live without the touch capability, they didn’t want thinner and lighter by having to compromise on power.

“The i5 and i7 were absolutely non-negotiable for customers, so that became the centrepiece of our design,” he said.

Nash indicated that conservable invention was necessary to get to the 10.4 mm width, as well as a weight of 2.45 lb. Two things were critical here: the hinge design, inspired by high-end cabinetry, and hyperbaric cooling.

“The hinge is different because we don’t have the height for a conventional hinge in this,” he said. “This one is recessed into the device and backed up by a piston.”

Accommodating the i5 and i7 processors created both height and cooling issues.

“The hyperbaric cooling created a hyperbaric chamber downstream of the processor to move air across the processor, pulling warm air back across,” he said. “The dual fans also create positive pressure within the notebook, enabling higher power.”

Another challenge was created by the display assembly, which is only 2 mm thin.

“We put .4 mm of Gorilla Glass 4 on top of the screen,” Nash said. “Because it’s so thin and optically bonded to the screen, its incredibly bright [300 nits]. It’s a much brighter experience and also uses much less energy. It reinvents the optical experience.”

The battery here is also unique, as HP split it into multiple parts – with the same wattage – to make it take up less space.

“We broke it into four sub-cells in two spaces,” Nash said. The new battery has 9.45 hours of battery life, up from 8 in the last Spectre.

HP wanted to cut the size of the existing 1.5 mm Travel Keyboard.

“We didn’t have room for 1.5 mm, but we found that what mattered most to users was key force profile – getting the right pushback. This is a 1.3 mm Travel Keyboard with key force profile optimized for a crisp satisfying feel.”

Other highlighted features included three ports, all of which can be used to charge the device. The power cord is slim and plugs into one of the USB ports. The look features high gloss copper accents and a hand-polished, jewelry-like finish, while a carbon fiber bottom is both durable and lightweight, helping with both the width and weight.

HP also announced the new generation of HP ENVY laptops, with two new models having 15.6 and 17.3 inch screen sizes. The Envy is the brand underneath Spectre in the HP arsenal. Both feature three USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-CTM that support data transfer to make adding or connecting accessories easy, as well as HP Fast Charge, which allows customers to charge the battery up to 90 percent in just 90 minutes when powered off.

Both devices are lighter than their predecessors, with the 15.6” ENVY a half pound lighter than the previous generation weighing in at 4.4 pounds and 17.95 mm thin, while the17.3” diagonal HP ENVY laptop weighs only 6.6 pounds with a 25.45 mm profile.

The 13.3” diagonal HP Spectre can be pre-ordered for $USD 1,169.99 and will be generally available on at a starting price of $USD 1,249.99. The 15.6” diagonal HP ENVY x360 starts at $679.99. The 17.3” diagonal HP Envy starts at $USD 1,029.99.