HP joins with Bang & Olufsen for optimised notebook sound

Article

HP taps Bang & Olufsen for audio tech now that Apple has Beats | Engadget

HP Partnership With Apple’s Beats Officially Ends as HP Moves on to Bang & Olufsen | MacRumors

From the horse’s mouth

Bang & Olufsen

Press Release

Hewlett-Packard

Press Release

My Comments

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

Over the last many years, most of the Windows-based laptop manufacturers have been working with companies in the sound-recording and sound-reproduction space to improve the way these computers have sounded. This is whether through the integrated speakers or when they are connected to external speakers or headphones and was seen as a way to compete with Apple for music recording and reproduction.

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

As I have seen with the Hewlett-Packard laptops that I have reviewed, HP had partnered with Beats by Dr Dre, known for headphones and speakers with a very impressive bass response, to improve the sound from their laptops. But lately Apple bought out Beats and HP realised they couldn’t continue this partnership.

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen has been well known for some very impressive hi-fi and video equipment, speakers, and audio accessories that are works of art in themselves for a long time.  For example, I had cited their single-piece music systems such as the Beocenter 7000 series, the Beocenter 9000 series and Beosound 9000 CD changer as being above their peers for sound quality even in their days.

They also have designed the ICEPower power-amplification modules to allow sound to be amplified by a compact device that is efficient with power and heat. Of course, B&O has related to a wide range of music from the classics through jazz and classic rock to current popular music and made their brand have that same kind of appeal as the Jaguar or Range Rover cars. This is where a premium brand like these isn’t just about being a status symbol, but is about enjoying the legendary expertise that the brand is all about.

But they have dabbled with sound tuning for ASUS, initially on a project basis but had applied the technology to a larger range of laptops under this brand.

So B&O have decided to pick up the mantle and offer the sound-tuning expertise to HP. This will also be about sharing the design expertise that is associated with how the Beomaster 1900 or Beosound Ouverture were designed. This includes preventing audio-noise sources like the power supply or other control circuitry from adding noise to the signal path.

Let’s not forget the way they have designed their speakers, headphones and similar equipment where they use a special cubic room for measuring the acoustic characteristics for the device they are designing. Here, this could lead towards being able to answer the question about how a laptop or tablet’s integrated sound system can be improved upon, making for a product that is more listenable.

The “Bang & Olufsen” brand will appear on the premium HP computers such as the Envy, Omen and Spectre lineups while the B&O Play lifestyle-focused brand will appear on the Pavilion computers, the tablets and accessories. Here, the B&O influence will affect HP computers that are being released through this year onwards.

I would see this partnership celebrate the expertise that both HP and B&O are about when it comes to their proficiencies rather than the bragging rights that is associated with a particular brand. Could that newer HP Envy or Omen complement that Beocenter?

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HP brings BYOD device management closer to small business

Article

HP’s BYOD service protects mobile devices and PCs | PC World

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 press picture courtesy of Samsung

Small businesses now have the ability to manage their smartphones and tablets like their big brethren

From the horse’s mouth

Hewlett-Packard

HP Touchpoint Manager

Product Page

My Comments

A trend that is coming to reality is the concept of “Bring Your Own Device” where employees are bringing in their own computing devices to use as part of their work. This is working alongside the concept of “mobile-first” computing where business computing is primarily focused around client devices that use mobile operating devices.

But these setups require the use of a management system to protect the integrity and security of the business data. Typically a lot of this software was costly, hard-to-use, and only suitable for large businesses which had an integral IT department.

But HP have answered this problem by releasing a Web-based remote-device-management system that is expressly pitched at small and medium businesses. Here, they focus the pricing on affordability for businesses and organisations with up to 500 staff with starting costs of US$2 per month for a basic setup and US$10 per month for a more advanced system.

This system can work with devices that are based on Windows, iOS or Android operating platforms and don’t yet support Blackberry or Macintosh platforms.  The baseline functionality includes a user and devices list and the ability to check on the state of the device’s battery and secondary storage. Pay more and you could benefit from features like finding lost devices, resetting passwords or wiping data remotely on these lost devices. There is functionality like the ability to restrict access to the data if the device is outside a particular location.

Another benefit that HP clawed for in the design of this software is for it to be “radically” easy to use, typically to cater for the small business or organisation where one person effectively is the “chief cook and bottle-washer”. Here, they implement a simplified user interface which is centred around a Web-based dashboard to make it easier to “get at what you want”.

There are some other gaping holes in the functionality like lack of geofencing and data backup but these may be offered later on either as extra functions for different levels of service or as options you can “buy on”. As well, HP even are integrating this service in to their current lineup of business-grade laptops like the Elitebook range. In this particular range, there is the ability for the computers to provide geographic location even if they are turned off.

What I like of this is the way HP has provided an easy-to-manage secure BYOD device management solution that is focused towards the small business or community organisation.

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Game On HP!

Article

HP Just Built A Gaming Laptop Seriously | Gizmodo Australia

My Comments

With the arrival of the Razer Blade gaming laptop and Dell answering this model with their Alienware gaming laptops, things were starting to look up for this class of computer.

Now HP have joined in the gaming-laptop frag-fest by presenting the Omen series of 15” gaming laptops. This was based around HP originally taking over Voodoo who were floundering when the concept of gaming in a laptop form factor didn’t catch on. This machine takes on what Voodoo was about but places it under a popular computing brand name. Another factor that underscores this computer is the fact that HP have built the ZBook series of mobile workstations, including the ZBook 14 “Workstation Ultrabook” where there is emphasis on graphics performance.

Here, the computer, like the Razer Blade and the Alienware computers, is designed for portability yet has the performance abilities like the Intel i7 processor, 8Gb RAM and mid-tier NVIDIA graphics. HP have also tackled the cooling issue to enable the graphics subsystem to have that bit of extra “pep”. This will work at a more realistic 1080p Full-HD resolution and has a Mini Display port and a regular HDMI connection so you can plug it in to that flat-screen TV or that high-end computer monitor for full-on gaming.

Even the keyboard has gaming credentials such as RGB illumination and programmable keys. There is also a large trackpad to provide more responsive gaming. There are variants of the Omen with 4Gb display RAM and 16Gb system RAM along with solid-state disks for quicker performance options.

A good question to raise is whether other companies who make laptop computers will create or build out their high-performance product ranges that are pitched at games or advanced graphics users? It also includes whether these classes of computer would work well not just for performance but for reliability as well

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HP to split in to 2 companies

Articles

Hewlett-Packard to Split Into Two Companies: Report | NBC News

Hewlett-Packard to split in 2 | The Australian

Partners: HP Split Could Unlock Value Of Both PC-Printer And Enterprise Businesses | Computer Reseller News

My Comments

IMG_0907 HP Envy 4 Touchsmart at Intercontinental Melbourne at Rialto - Windows 8

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart notebook computer

Recent news is that Hewlett-Packard is to split in to two entities with one covering PCs and printers and another covering Tech services which is encompassing the enterprise computing sector. This is to offset the losses caused by the reduced demand for regular personal computers and printers due to mobile computing devices (smartphones and tablets) being the preferred way to go.

HP OfficeJet 6700 Premium multifunction printer

HP OfficeJet 6700 multifunction inkjet printer

By splitting the entities, there is the ability for HP to have the companies focus on the expertise and value that each of them will provide without one of them affecting the other negatively. This was in contrast to HP previously acquiring Compaq who had bought out DEC who were known for the PDP-11 and VAX mainframe computers with their associated terminals and peripherals. In this case, HP’s PCs and printers company could place more effort on winning back the “personal computing and printing” market for both business and home users as well as increasing that effort that they started on printing for mobile devices that they started with their ePrint initiative.

HP Elitebook 2560p at Intercontinental at Relto, Melbourne

HP Elitebook 2560P business notebook computer

The questions that can be raised here are what of the branding for the separate entities as in how each of these entities will be known. As well how will this affect HP’s footing in to the commercial printing sector such as the digital presses and photo printing systems – whether this will be part of the “Tech services” company or the “PCs and printers” company. Yet another question that can be raised is how research and development that HP has been known for will be affected, especially if one of the companies puts forward an innovation that is of benefit to the other company’s products.

This will remind me a bit of the way IBM divested themselves of their hardware businesses over the years, with the printing and typewriter business going to Lexmark, the personal computing business going to Lenovo and the data storage business going to Hitachi. It was in order for them to focus on the enterprise data services sector rather than running a monolith that has other loss-making functions.

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Two more interesting smartwatch designs are surfacing

HP and Casio are each premiering a smartwatch that, like Swatch’s and Tissot’s idea, are different from the pack. One of these is a something that would be kept as a dress watch to wear when you are going out while the other one can identify those tunes playing on the radio or background-music setup while you are out and about.

Articles

HP’s luxury dress smartwatch

Take a look at HP’s luxury smartwatch | Engadget

HP, Gilt and designer Michael Bastion teaming up for a smartwatch | Android Authority

From the horse’s mouth

Gilt

Press Release

Casio’s G-Watch that identifies music

Casio’s Next G-Watch Uses SoundHound To Discover New Music | Engadget

Casio’s Latest Bluetooth Watch Puts Song Recognition On Your Wrist | Gizmodo

My Comments

The first of the watches is a luxury fashionable dress watch that is engineered by HP but designed by Gilt along with the fashion designer, Michael Bastian. This men’s watch has a round 44mm stainless-steel case and swappable leather bands, taking with it the “stylish yet cool” interior designs associated with some of the recent luxury cars out there.

For functionality, this is meant to interlink with iOS and Android devices using a platform-specific device, this courting the luxury market’s penchant for preferring the Apple iPhones as their smartphone options. At the moment, this watch offers notification functionality for email, text and calls along with being a control surface for music playback and some other apps.

Personally I would see the HP watch’s emphasis on style rather than geekiness more about either the watch to wear when you are going to the Melbourne Club or wanting to take out someone whom you are really trying to impress.

The second of these watches is Casio’s latest G-Shock smartwatch. This has notification functionality through its LCD display which exists behind the traditional clock face and also acts as a control surface for your phone, especially with your music using a knob on the edge of the bezel. It would work alongside a Casio-supplied platform-specific app for your smartphone and maintains the rugged look of other G-Shock watches.

But it also works along with SoundHound and an internal microphone to identify the music that is playing. Once identified, the song details appear on the watch’s LCD display.

The Casio watch would be on a par with other Android Wear smartwatches but has a long battery life thus avoiding the need for you to charge it every night. It would look the part more as a utility watch for everyday activities.

At the moment, these watches along with the previously covered Swatch watches come across more as baseline “control and display surfaces” that link to your smartphone using Bluetooth 4.0 LE a.k.a. Bluetooth Smart. But they would require the use of different apps to provide the software connection. Personally, what Google, Apple and Microsoft should work on is a baseline wearable specification which allows different wearable devices offering baseline functionality to link to the phone without the need to run many extra apps. As well, the watches should at least support using the phone as a “reference clock” for setting the time and adjusting for different time zones and daylight-savings time.

What is happening is that there are smartwatches that place less emphasis on the “geek nature” and could expose this genre of product to most of us.

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Mail-order printer ink plans come to the US courtesy of HP

Article – From the horse’s mouth

HP

HP Instant Ink|Ink Cartridge Replacement Service | HP® Official Store (Advertisement)

My Comments

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one inkjet printer

HP have brought to the US the concept of plan-based ink replacement for home users. Here, in the land of mail-order business, people can sign up to a pay-by-the-month plan that works with select HP printers so that HP supplies replacement cartridges directly when the machines run low on ink.

This is very similar to enterprises who have managed printers and copiers where, as part of the contract, they receive ink or toner as they need it for their machines. In this plan, known as HP Instant Ink, a customer can choose one of three different service levels dependent on how much printing they expect to do. Here, when the printer runs low, it lets HP know via your home network of this fact and HP will deliver a the ink cartridges that you need and provide a bag for you to send back the empty cartridges for recycling.

Luckily, there is the ability to vary the plans to suit different printing needs or walk out of the plans if you see fit because there isn’t an annual commitment. As well, these plans assure that users can have HP supply them the genuine ink cartridges for their machine.

At the moment, these plans are pitched at a range of two-cartridge HP multifunction printers but who knows when HP could extend it to other home and SOHO machines. HP could see these plans as a way to supply printers to home and small-business users on a contract basis by selling them as complete systems where there is a monthly payment for the machine and the inks and a 1-year or 2-year commitment. They could target this kind of plan at the SOHO and small-business user who has to factor in the purchase of newer equipment, depreciation for current equipment as well as ink costs as legitimate business expenses to be factored in every financial year.

Of course, there would be doubts about the value of money that these plans have compared with inks purchased at a local or mail-order / online outlet who may sell genuine ink cartridges at cheaper prices. Similarly, I would have doubts about HP running the Instant Ink program in countries where direct sales aren’t considered the norm for selling goods to consumers and small organisations.

But I see of this as being a bold step for a company HP to offer an ink-delivery program for home and small-business / community-organisation users who want to make sure they have a supply of ink in their printers.

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HP offers a Wi-Fi Direct / NFC module for most existing business printers

Articles

HP LaserJet M1536dnf monochrome laser multifunction printer

HP LaserJet M1536dnf monochrome laser multifunction printer – now NFC and Wi-Fi Direct capable with a cheap module

HP outs NFC and wireless mobile printing solution for homes and offices | TechRadar

This little box adds NFC mobile printing to recent HP LaserJet, Officejet printers | PCWorld

HP Announces NFC Device For Printers | The Recycler

HP pousse le NFC sur presque toutes ses imprimantes | Le Monde Informatique (France – French language)

From the horse’s mouth

Hewlett-Packard

Product Sheet (PDF)

My Comments

HP have now cottoned on to the NFC “touch-to-print” model that Brother was involved along with the Wi-Fi Direct “own-access-point” printing model to allow people with mobile devices to print from their own devices without using the business’s main network.

But this is not about junking a perfectly-good printer that is still giving sterling service for your organisation. Instead it is in the form of a black box that connects to recent-issue compatible HP business printers, some of which I have reviewed here such as the Colour LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw multifunction printer, Colour LaserJet 400 Series printer, the LaserJet M1536dnf multifunction printer and the OfficeJet 150 mobile printer.

This device is in the form of a black box that connects to the printer’s USB port, has NFC “touch-and-go” print for Android and Windows 8, as well as the Wi-Fi Direct / own-access-point functionality which works with HP ePrint and with Apple’s AirPrint systems. HP’s larger “workhorse” printers and multifunctions have a similar option but this is in the form of a module that is installed in the existing printer on site. The device, known as the 1200w Mobile Printing Accessory is to be normally offered for USD$50 / EUR€36 but initially offered for USD$40/ EUR€29.

HP OfficeJet 150 mobile multifunction printer closed up

The HP OfficeJet 150 can be the fully-fledged mobile office with your iPad courtesy of the NFC Mobile Print module

The idea would be that if you aren’t keen on having clients or business partners marauding on your business network when they need hard copy from their mobile device, you have them use the separate printing network for their quick-run printing needs.

As for the OfficeJet 150, this accessory would allow one to create a “back-of-the-van” mobile office around their smartphone or tablet especially if the effort is to do away with the regular computing environment on the road. It is because the iOS and Android platforms with the HP-supplied or platform-native printing apps are intended to work with a Wi-Fi wireless network segment rather than the Bluetooth or USB connections this printer natively supports.

This is more about adding extra functionality to an existing device through the installation of an add-on module rather than replacing the existing device. It is a practice that is common to anyone who owns a hi-fi system or a TV, where they buy and connect extra equipment like CD players, tape decks, video recorders and DVD / Blu-Ray payers to add extra functionality to their existing systems. This avoids the need to do away with perfectly-good equipment to gain the extra functionality and, in some cases such as the video recorder, has added a lot more functionality like increased tuner capacity, stereo TV sound or remote control abilities.

This concept of offering the add-on devices can be seen as a way of effectively extending the life of most devices that are expected to put in a long service life and keeping their relevance to current needs and should never be tossed aside by device vendors.

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HP and others use Mopria to advance driver-free printing for mobile devices

Article

HP, allies launch Mopria to keep printers relevant in mobile era | Mobile – CNET News

My Comments

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one inkjet printer

A common reality with the desktop printer is that you need to implement drivers on a desktop computer in order to have the printer work properly with that computer. This has confused many people who simply wanted to “walk up and print” at another location or install a newer printer. The situation is very difficult for mobile and embedded devices where these devices require limited memory space or hard-to-adapt software.

There have been various attempts at providing driver-free printing for mobile and embedded computers. One of these was UPnP Printing which allowed one to print a JPEG image or XHTML-formatted document on a suitable network printer but this was only followed through by HP with their consumer multifunction desktop printers and Nokia with their Symbian-based feature phones. HP also took this further with their ePrint “print-by-email” setup which just about every consumer and small-business HP desktop printer is equipped with.

Apple made a bit of headway with this issue by implementing AirPrint for their iOS devices and Macintosh computers running MacOS X Lion. Here, this was totally “driver-free” and more printer manufacturers came on board offering it for newer printer ranges or as “field-update” firmware for some of their existing models.

There needed to be an effort that is centred around one or more existing standards and augmented by a logo-driven marketing platform in order to provide driver-free printing to other regular, mobile and embedded computing platforms. No doubt, as Apple and their fanbois have their faith behind the AirPrint ecosystem, the Mopria ecosystem will be offered as a complementary system for other “open-frame” computing platforms.

The Mopria platform is recognising the idea that the smartphone or tablet that runs a mobile operating system is serving users as either a sole or anciliary computing device. But I would also like to see Microsoft and the open-source community adopt Mopria as a driver-free system-wide printing solution for Windows and Linux respectively in order to provide the true “walk-up and print” ability to regular computers that run these operating systems.

The embedded device community could place value on Mopria as a way to add network printing to all sorts of dedicated devices. For example, the smart TV or set-top box could exploit Mopria for interactive TV’s printing needs such as coupon printing. Similarly, devices like energy meters or “wellness” devices could use the technology to print trend-based charts for energy used or personal-wellness stats.

This may be early days yet but by using a device standard with a distinct customer-recognisable logo, Mopria could be in a position to provide driver-free printing for most applications. They also need the help of other industry standards groups like DLNA or Blu-Ray Disc to provide leverage for Mopria in the embedded-device space.

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HP to give the Sony VAIO Pro 13 and the Apple MacBook Air a run for their money

Article

HP Launches World’s First Workstation Ultrabook, Refreshes Workstation Lineup

From the horse’s mouth

HP

Product Page

My Comments

When Sony launched the VAIO Pro 13, they put up an 13” Ultrabook with a 1080p photo-optimised LCD screen that gave the Apple MacBook Air a run for its money when it came to computer needs for the working photographer with the MacBook Air only hanging on to its status by the virtue of long battery life.

Now HP have walked up to the platform with the ZBook Workstation 14 which is an Intel Haswell-driven 14” Ultrabook that can be described as a “workstation Ultrabook”. This one, which weighs in at 3.5 lb could have up to 16Gb of RAM and 1 Tb of hard-disk storage and the option of AMD FirePro discrete graphics. They had described this processing power as being suitable for photographers, video / multimedia and CAD work but one could easily tack on core gaming as another application.

Similarly, HP have put up the rest of the ZBook range as an answer to Sony’s VAIO laptop computers, especially the VAIO E series, for Windows-based graphics and multimedia computing on the road.

This is similar to another HP effort to call a computer that isn’t a three-piece ATX tower PC a workstation when they released the Z1 Workstation which was a modular all-in-one workstation.

Here, we are seeing computers like all-in-one desktops, ultraportable laptops and tablets, the types not being associated with serious graphics and multimedia work or hardcore games play, come up to the stage with specifications that match the requirements and these could usher in a new trend for advanced computing.

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HP x2 detachable-tablet design to become like an established car-model lineup

Article

HP announces the HP Split x2 | Windows Experience Blog (Microsoft)

HP intros the Split x2 Windows hybrid and Android-based SlateBook x2 (hands-on) | Engadget

HP SlateBook x2: An Android Notebook With Sweet Tegra 4 Guts | Gizmodo

Previous Coverage of the range

Product Review – HP Envy x2 Hybrid Tablet

HP Envy X2 Detachable-Keyboard Hybrid Tablet

HP Envy X2 detachable-keyboard hybrid tablet computer – now part of a larger family

My Comments

Those of you who have followed this site regularly have come across my review of the HP Envy x2 which is HP’s first Windows 8 detachable-keyboard “hybrid” tablet computer. This 11” tablet computer was based on the Intel Atom processor and excelled more as a portable Windows 8 tablet.

Now the x2 detachable-keyboard hybrid-tablet from HP has become like a model series that represents a class of car released by a car manufacturer where the series features different body types, powertrain specifications and trim levels. Here, this has become computers with different screen sizes, operating systems and microprocessor technology where different models exist for different needs.

Here, HP have released the Split x2 detachable-keyboard tablet with similar credentials to a recent-issue 13” ultraportable computer. Here, the computer could come with an Intel Core i3 or i5 mainstream microprocessor and a variant could come with the ability to have a second 500Gb hard disk in the keyboard module. Similarly, they have released the SlateBook x2 which snaps at the heels of the ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime by being a Tegra-driven 10” Android detachable-keyboard tablet.

Oh yeah, some of us would consider this as being useless due to a 13” screen size for a tablet compared to the typical 10-11” screen size for this class of computer. But this size may appeal more for group viewing or, when used with the keyboard, for creating a lot of content. The Split x2 would have either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor while the SlateBook would have the NVIDIA Tegra 4 that pleases a lot of performance Android enthusiasts.

HP has taken this formula that was established by the Envy x2 and extended it further for computers that are about exploiting the detachable-keyboard tablet, and this could be a way of allowing the concept to mature while allowing one to choose a computer in this class that suits their needs. Personally, I would like to see HP build out the x2 series with the “Envy” name representing one or two models that represent luxury or performance or a run of business-focused models with the business security needs while keeping the Split and SlateBook lineup.

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