As sure as the sun rises in the East, every few months you're going to see some new laptops from leading PC maker HP. That time is here again, and the latest additions include new versions of the high-end Envy, the Netbook-size Mini, and even a few professional-level ProBooks and Elitebooks. Here are some of the highlights:
HP Envy 14
The Envy 14, part of HP's premium Envy line, gets a refresh with Intel's 2011 Sandy Bridge CPUs, which offer better performance and battery life than the 2010 models. While it looks the same as previous Envy models, HP promises that the large clickpad is more responsive (multitouch gestures were a little wonky on the current versions), and USB 3.0 gets thrown in as well.
We've generally been big fans of this line, as it's one of the few high-design, gamer-friendly series of laptops from a major brand. You won't be able to get one of these new 14-inch models until June, and they start at $999.
HP Mini 210
It turns out Netbooks aren't totally dead after all (just mostly dead). The new Mini 210 is pretty much the same as last year's, with a dual-core Intel Atom CPU, and this is one of only a handful of new Netbooks we've heard about so far for 2011 (by this time last year, we were flooded with 2010 models).
But the new Mini 210 does add some new lid colors (including sweet purple, charcoal, crimson red, luminous rose, and ocean drive). Despite still being only about 1 inch thick, it works in a streamlined six-cell battery, and, surprisingly, the Mini 210 includes a Netbook version of the same Beats Audio technology found in the high-end Envy laptops, which is something of a bold move.
Also available in June, these will run $300-$330, which is still the standard for basic Netbooks.
HP Pavilion dv4
Other than a few vibrant new colors, the most notable thing about the Pavilion dv4 is the new version of HP's Cool Sense technology it includes. This is basically a user control panel for the cooling fans, but now it actually includes some recommended user settings, instead of leaving it all for you to figure out.
The Pavilion dv4 is coming May 18, starting at $599.
Corporate and business users shouldn't feel left out; there are a handful of new ProBook and EliteBook models as well. The $799 ProBook 5330m is a slim 13-inch with Intel's newest Sandy Bridge CPUs and a backlit keyboard, as well as TPM and Intel vPro technology (which are important for corporate IT departments).
The EliteBook 2560p and 2760p are aimed at high-end business users, with metallic finishes and thin designs. The $1,100, 12.5-inch 2560p is a traditional clamshell, while the $1,500 12-inch 2760p has a swiveling convertible touch screen. All three should be available in May, and our sister site ZDNet has some additional details on the business systems, but the part we're most interested in is the pay-as-you-go 3G data plans, which is something we haven't seen in a laptop before.
The system is called Data Pass, and with it, users of select HP laptops with 3G antennas can buy small chunks of data on an a la carte basis. The service is provided by Sprint, and seems like a good idea for those who need only occasional access, but the prices did seem steep--$5 for 75MB of data, which could easily be a single PowerPoint document, or up to 1GB of data for $30.