New HP laptop range preps for future of personalised AI assistants

HP laptop Pavilion 2024 launch
Image: supplied.

Packing out Sydney’s Machine Hall with a look back at history while moving towards an AI-powered future, HP launched a huge range of laptop PCs designed to capitalise on the hype.

Wielding the Intel Core Ultra processors, replete with neural processing units (NPUs) made for low-powered AI tasks, personalised AI was HP’s big focus. Many of today’s prominent AI technologies, including ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot, use costly cloud servers which also carry a security risk.

HP, along with other computer manufacturers, wants to change this. Its goal is to enable local, on-system AI assistants that know you and your habits.

HP laptop launch 2024
AI is a major part of HP’s current strategy. Image: supplied.

Most current on-device uses of AI revolve around optimising computer performance, like noise cancelling and background blurring during video calls, to reduce battery impact. Soon, devices like the new HP laptops will run large language models (LLMs) locally, providing a more secure and personalised experience based on what’s on your computer, not a nebulous set of data in the cloud.

But what about the hardware? HP’s AI PC ranges from work-centric devices like the EliteBook and Pavilion models, to the Omen laptops for gaming on the go. They all share one thing in common: a built-in NPU said to power the future of AI computing.

Built for work

At the front of HP’s business laptops is the EliteBook 1040, a device advertised with up to 21 hours of battery life. Housed with up to an Intel Core Ultra 7 processor, HP claims its AI technology anticipates your PC usage, so it adjusts power accordingly depending on your workload.

Aimed at younger users, the HP Pavilion laptops also use Intel’s AI-enabled chips, with slightly lower specs to be more affordable. Meanwhile, the compute-heavy ZBook range goes as far as the Intel Core Ultra 9 processors, accompanied by Nvidia RTX Ada GPUs made for intensive workloads like 3D rendering.

HP EliteBook 1040
HP EliteBook 1040. Image: supplied.

Of course, the popular two-in-one HP Spectre and Envy laptops also benefit from the Ultra treatment. Functioning as both a clamshell laptop and a touch-enabled tablet, these devices come with up to a 2.8K OLED 120Hz display to help with creative workflows.

Across the range, HP highlighted the various on-device AI enhancements with a side glance at how people currently use AI. Adobe’s Mike McHugh demonstrated the editing company’s generative fill technology based on the Firefly model. Again, it’s a technology currently reliant on the cloud but showcased possible generative AI use cases for people without graphic design skills.

Built for play

Rounding out the HP laptop range was the Omen Transcend 14 gaming device. Carrying the claims of being the “world’s coolest and lightest 14-inch gaming laptop”, the 1.6kg model comes with an OLED display and a graphics card as beefy as an RTX 4070.

Equipped with an Intel Core Ultra 9 185H chip, the Omen Transcend 14 reportedly increases frame rates by nearly 25% when streaming games via OBS Studio. Between the laptop’s NPU and OpenVINO plugins, the overall system load reduces when applying camera effects like auto-framing and background blur. Both the CPU and GPU normally tackle this load, but the NPU helps free up resources that can then be used to improve game performance.

OMEN Transcend 14 - Shadow Black
HP Omen Transcend 14 gaming laptop.

Plus, the latest Omen uses AI to optimise the display’s refresh rate and power modes. Although HP’s claims of a 7% battery improvement sound minimal, every bit counts with gaming laptops. When it is time to charge, HP’s gaming laptop comes with a 140W USB-C PD adapter to quickly top up the battery.

There’s also a 16-inch Omen laptop sporting a smooth 240Hz OLED screen. It doesn’t get the new NPU-inclusive chip, however, it is instead built with an Intel Core i7 HX processor.

AI in an HP laptop coming to you soon

Some of the new HP laptop models are out now in Australia, both across the brand’s website and tech retailers.

Like much of the AI PC discussion thus far, HP has announced big plans for the future of computing. Now it’s time for PC companies to deliver on truly meaningful local uses of AI to capitalise on the new hardware.

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Chris Button travelled to Sydney as a guest of HP Australia.