HP Specter Foldable and HP Envy Move, first impressions: surprise, the PC can be different (and fun)

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The PC can aspire to remain innovative, surprising and, of course, fun. HP has demonstrated this these days at its HP Imagine 2023 event , held at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto (California).

There we have learned about various solutions in segments such as printers or HP’s videoconferencing and telepresence (Poly) and streaming (HyperX) solutions , but there has been special prominence for two new and unique personal computers.

The first, the HP Specter Foldable , was announced on September 14 . The second, the HP Envy Move , was presented at this event .

HP Specter Foldable

Let’s start first with the spectacular HP Specter Foldable, a product that has competition, but is certainly ambitious and surprising. Its price – $4,999 – already makes it clear that it is not for everyone, but it soon shows why it has that price tag.

As soon as you see it in portable format, the surprise is how compact it is: in that mode we are faced with a device with a 12.3-inch screen and a keyboard that, if you don’t look closely, would seem like part of the chassis.

Soon, however, he begins to show his muscle. It does so with an OLED screen that already in that conventional mode is striking for its vibrant colors and a finish with a peculiar shine that differs from the iMac screens – whose glass causes clear reflections – and which here is more attenuated, with a kind vinyl or sticker effect that makes one appear not to be looking at something that can display changing visual information.

The keyboard is surprisingly functional: that diagonal means that we are looking at a certainly compact peripheral, but one in which at least in our tests we did not notice that there were sacrifices in the experience of typing with it.

The touchpad also responded perfectly, and although its dimensions are also limited by the size of the screen itself in laptop mode, there are no buts here that can be put to its behavior or its gesture support in Windows 11, which is equally perfect.

The surprises come as soon as you start playing with this team, which is actually three. The keyboard is attached to that part of the computer using an ingenious magnetic system that is strong enough to stay there even if you move the laptop and turn it, but also soft enough so that you can pick it up and remove it whenever you want. An important note : the wireless keyboard charges precisely while it is docked to the computer , meaning you never have to worry about recharging it.

Once you deploy it, you have two quick ways to take advantage of it. In the first you can take advantage of the laptop with a “1.5x” screen, that is, the keyboard is attached right in the lower half of the lower screen, and the upper part is already that continuation of the folding screen of the HP Specter Foldable.

Here HP has worked with Microsoft to take advantage of that option. The well-known Snap Layouts that allow you to easily choose where to place a new window – occupying a quarter in a corner, occupying half on a side – are expanded with options that allow us to show if we want to take advantage of that “0.5” more screen , the band above the keyboard, to place an elongated window there or two more square windows that show different information.

The concept is not new, of course – we saw it, for example, in the ASUS ZenBook Duo – but it represents a twist because that device only offered that mode of operation, while here the versatility is total.

In fact, things get really interesting when we remove the keyboard and leave it apart from the screen: that’s when the spectacular flexible OLED panel of this device shows all its virtues. Once again, that visual “sticker” finish is impressive , making the quality of the panel truly surprising, both the colors and the viewing angles or the definition of the screen.

In this mode with the screen displayed, one can of course work with the device operating in portable mode, but with a vertical and a horizontal screen, although in my opinion this mode is the least practical of all those offered by the device.

It makes much more sense to access that “desktop PC” mode that suddenly turns the small 12.3-inch laptop into a computer with a more than respectable 17-inch screen. When unfolding the panel we also find an ingenious support that unfolds from the back and acts as a kind of “kickstand” on which the unfolded screen rests.

It is at that moment when this touch screen shows all that potential and productivity can multiply. Here I would say that using an external mouse would completely complete the experience, because although the touchpad is perfectly functional it is always more natural to work on a desktop computer with an independent mouse. This way of unfolding the HP Specter Foldable to turn it into a desktop computer is fantastic, and demonstrates the virtues of flexible and foldable screens.

We weren’t able to perform consistent performance or battery life tests due to the limited time we spent with the device, but the experience when browsing or playing video is equally outstanding. In this last section, a special note: this is the first folding device with IMAX Enhanced certification , which guarantees an excellent multimedia content viewing experience.

This is also demonstrated in the audio section: the equipment has four speakers designed in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen and which have DTS:X support. Playing a trailer like that of ‘Thor: Love & Thunder’ demonstrated the sound quality of the equipment.

The device also invites you to use it as a large format tablet. Here digital artists have before them an extraordinary option for that 17″ panel that includes a pencil or stylus (Tilt Pen) with a performance that, at least in our limited tests, we could not find fault with. As with the keyboard , the pen’s rechargeable battery is recharged as soon as we leave it magnetically attached to the edge of the device.

There are more striking details: the 5 MP webcam offered decent quality – the limitations of the screen frame are not enough – and it had both a privacy switch and various artificial intelligence mechanisms to add functionalities to the device. For example, the screen locks or unlocks when we leave or detects our presence again. These types of details are part of a technologically extraordinary team with exceptional versatility.

HP Envy Move

HP’s second surprise in the field of PCs came from the HP Envy Move , an All in One that does not seem very different from the rest if you see it leaning on a table: a priori before us we have a device with a screen 23.8 inches, 2,560 x 1,440 resolution and a keyboard with integrated touchpad.

Everything is correct until you look at two details. The first is that you find the equipment running without having it connected to the power. That, which would be perfectly normal on a laptop, is not normal on a computer that is theoretically desktop.

In this case, a battery -83 Whr, 50% recharges in 30 minutes, and offers 4.2 hours of autonomy according to HP- offers that possibility that is in fact a hallmark of the HP Envy Move. As its name indicates, this All in One is designed to be moved from one place to another , and to do so the second surprise appears.

This is the handle that can be seen in the image and that also attaches slightly magnetically to the back. Thanks to this element we can pick up the equipment to move it from one place to another easily. The speckled finish in the image, by the way, is not because the chassis is dirty: the recycled material used by HP contained traces of coffee, although they assured us – and it is true – that this does not make the equipment smell of said ingredient (which which still would have been funny). The device weighs 4.1 kg, which makes it surprisingly light if we consider that we are talking about an entire desktop.

The touch screen contributes to easy use in any corner of the house, and the device’s leg deployment mechanism is also notable. In the image you can see that spout attached to each foot on one side: when that element rises upwards (when placed on a surface), those small legs rotate and remain perpendicular to the equipment to serve as that curious support: once placed , the screen even has a slight tilt capability.

The configuration is interesting and is available in two variants. One with a somewhat more modest Core i3-1315U, Wi-Fi 6, Windows 11 Home, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD ($899), and another with a Core i5-1335U, 16 GB of RAM, Wi-Fi Fi 6E, Windows 11 Pro and 512 GB SSD ($1,129).

It is not a high-flying PC, of ​​course, but its orientation is to offer sufficient room for maneuver for office tasks and web browsing: in our tests these components proved to behave without problem and both the response and launch times of the apps were great.

The details have also been taken care of in this case, and this is noticeable in the adaptive sound of the equipment: the webcam is capable of detecting where the user is located , so that if they are close the audio mode is stereo, but if it detects that is further away – or if a family uses it to watch a movie or vacation photos and videos, for example – a spatial sound system is used so that the amplitude of that audio is greater.

This 720p webcam also has a privacy switch, but it also has an ambient light sensor that allows you to adjust the screen brightness automatically, for example.

Although it is not a device that by itself is prepared to enjoy the field of gaming at full speed, it has another curious and notable feature: an HDMI input that allows you to use this device as if it were a monitor . Thus, connecting a console to that port is enough to be able to enjoy the games on this screen – if we do not want to enjoy them through other means, such as cloud gaming.

Conclusions: the PC continues to reinvent itself

It is evident that these two HP proposals are not for everything or everyone: the HP Specter Foldable is a device aimed at enthusiasts and early adopters . The high cost imposes a significant barrier to entry, and although the use cases are there, it is true that conventional laptops and convertibles, much cheaper in comparison, can solve a good part of that equation.

Even so, that versatility and the ability to have a device that with these dimensions and weight can end up becoming a 17-inch “compact desktop” is something that demonstrates the validity of folding screens. Is that worth it enough to make this investment? The answer depends on each user , of course.

As for the HP Envy Move, the feeling is exactly the same: there are other 24-inch All in One devices that are relatively easy to transport within the home, but the integration of its own battery here raises the stakes for that mobility and provides a value that can be very interesting for many users.

Taking the equipment to the kitchen, the bedroom or any other corner without having to carry the adapter and plug everything in is certainly an advance in this case, and here in fact the price is really attractive and even aggressive: for those who do not need a device very powerful, HP’s proposal is certainly attractive, friendly and fun .

Whether you like these two HP bets more or less, one thing is unmistakable: this manufacturer continues to have the courage to step out of its comfort zone and offer original proposals.

They may go into very specific niches, but the staging of both teams and the details that accompany them are refreshing . Especially considering that the PC has been with us for more than 40 years. At this point one would think that everything had already been invented.