HP ends the year with a trio of laptops; we go hands-on

With but a few weeks to go before the end of the year, HP sat down with us for a quick hands-on with three new notebooks, with most heading to retail shelves now.

While 2012 should bring the launch of some faster new processors from Intel and AMD, right now HP was keen to show off three new recently announced entrants in its notebook range.

First up is the debut ultrabook, the HP Folio 13. We first heard of this laptop a few weeks ago when we were told of its $1,199 starting price.

Now we can report that there will be two models, with the entry-level unit packing in a 1.4GHz Intel Core i3 and the more expensive $1,499 model featuring a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5.

The HP Folio 13 ultrabook.

From our brief time with it, the build quality feels strong, with a particularly solid hinge.

We were a little disheartened to see that the 128GB solid state drive on offer was technically shaved down to around 100GB available, the remaining amount going to a restoration drive in place of reinstall discs.

HP claims its Folio 13 gets the best ultrabook battery life in the industry – it claims 9 hours – so we’ll be eager to see it in action soon.

The volume control on the Envy 15 is an aluminium dial.

Next up is the Envy 15, a 15.6 inch laptop for the notebook user who wants to tote all the might of a desktop around with them. Much like HP’s TouchPad, the new Envy comes with Beats technology, packing in six speakers, two subwoofers, and a cute little volume dial in place of those regular volume shortcuts we’re used to seeing on the keyboard.

Overall, the machine feels very solid, and the colour scheme is a nice change from the commonplace silver or black livery – the Envy 15 makes use of a mixture of both colours. We’re told that the chassis is made of metal, although components such as the bottom and the lid felt a little like plastic.

The Envy15 is heading to stores now from $1,699.

Finally, we’ve got the least pricey of the bunch: the Pavilion dm4 Beats edition. This is a 2 kilo 14 inch lappy set out in matte black plastic with red backlighting.

It’s not hard to see that HP is really channeling the Beats by Dre design scheme here, and we have to say that on first glance, the machine has a nice feel to it too, as well as good looks to boot.

We’re told that the dm4 Beats will feature second-generation Intel Core processors, decent graphics, and a finger printer reader with HP software for storing your passwords safely, but no idea if this will come with a pair of Beats headphones. We sure hope so, but this notebook won’t arrive until January. Pricing will be from $999.