HP goes svelte in 2016, gets gaming with HTC Vive VR

100% human

HP may have been on the brink of death a few years ago, but all of that is in the past, as HP pushes on with some intriguing hardware designs and the guts to make sure VR isn’t just about the headset, but about the computer used, too.

This year at CES, computer maker HP is making sure it’s not just another me-too maker, as the brand unveils some new and interesting machines it plans to bring to market in the near future.

First up is a new machine made for multimedia, with a 12.1 inch Pavilion that feels, at least upon first glance, as if it’s being made as a middle ground take on Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.


Instead of featuring high-end innards, HP’s Pavilion x2 feels like a tablet for the Joe Everybody, grabbing a 12.1 inch metal-bodied tablet with a Full HD 1920×1080 touchscreen display, and packing in an Intel Atom x5 processor, 2GB RAM, and 64GB storage, with even one of those universal USB Type C ports to charge the tablet from and a pair of Bang & Olufsen Play speakers built in.

HP also says it will have slightly more powerful versions of the Pavilion x2, offering Intel Core M processors if need be, with the option for more storage up to 256GB, also.

You’ll find the Pavilion x2 arrives with a keyboard, making it more than just a multimedia slate — it’s something you an work from — but it can be detached and used by itself or reconnected using a magnetic connector, making it a machine useful for lots of things.

So that’s one computer being shown.


Another is an update to HP’s Spectre x360, with the 13.3 inch consumer-friendly business machine delivering HP’s first Quad HD OLED screen, boosting the colour and contrast level, and even shedding about 50 grams from the weight of the computer.

That’s something you’re not like to notice, but you will probably see more colour, especially compared to the standard colour LCDs HP traditionally uses.

“Screen quality — including resolution, brightness and contrast—are increasingly important to customers creating and viewing rich media content on their personal systems, and PCs are no exception,” said HP Australia’s Jeff Woodhouse.

Both the HP Spectre x360 with OLED and the Pavilion x2 should find their way to Australia this year, though neither pricing nor definite release details were known at the time of publishing. If we had to guess, we’d say by April.


Finally, there’s a computer you can look forward to later on in the year, but this is one that isn’t made for Joe Everybody or even Joe Businessperson.

No, this is made for Joe I-Like-To-Game, the person with a rather long and complicated hyphenated name that spends their time deep in the virtual world, and wants to make it even more virtual.

This year, that attempt will happen by way of the HP Envy Phoenix, a machine that HP is working on with HTC for its upcoming “Vive” VR platform, which will deliver a 3D virtual reality headset, controls, and compatibility with a bunch of PC games, courtesy of Vive’s other partner, gaming juggernaut Valve.


“As virtual reality becomes the next wave of innovation for gaming, customers need a desktop PC specifically configured with quality, performance and computing power to enable the experience,” said Woodhouse.

“HP is excited to be working with HTC to be at the forefront of this new technology to deliver the HP Envy Phoenix, a purpose built desktop PC to power amazing virtual gaming experiences.”

More than your standard desktop PC, the Envy Phoenix is being designed and built with VR gaming in mind, providing up to 6TB of storage, Intel Core i7 processors with overclocking tuned by HP, and the option of two high-end graphics cards.

Seeing what we’re seeing on paper, it feels as though HP is designing its own version of Alienware’s Area 51, albeit in a possibly smaller box, with even a degree of liquid cooling and LED lighting, also.


As good as the machine looks, one thing that won’t be arriving with the Envy Phoenix is the HTC Vive headset, and while we don’t have pricing, HP has already said that HTC’s virtual reality gear won’t be included in the pack, meaning you’ll have to spend extra on that piece of kit.

As it stands, there’s no current pricing available on either, nor is there an expected timeframe for when the Vive or HP’s Envy Phoenix is likely to arrive, but the moment we find out more, you can bet we’ll tell you.