HP has announced its Windows 8 desktop lineup, leading off with 23.6-inch Spectre One. It's the first all-in-one in the company's premium Spectre line and a scant 11.5 millimeters thick — HP's thinnest all-in-one to date. The desktop also lacks a touchscreen, a curious omission in light of finger-friendly Windows 8. HP told us that adding one would add four to five millimeters to the overall thickness, a drawback they weren't willing to accept.
You'll still be able to get your multitouch-gesture fix, as HP has bundled a wireless touchpad with the PC. The touchpad is light, comfortable and baked into the same silver shell as the desktop. More importantly, it works: it tracked Windows 8's multitouch gestures accurately, and was large enough to offer plenty of travel distance for our large paws. The touchpad (and accompanying wireless keyboard) also don't require a proprietary dongle to pair with the PC, saving precious USB ports.
Here's another neat, albeit curious addition: an NFC chip is built into the Spectre One's base. Once a few bundled apps are configured, tap an NFC-equipped phone to the base and you'll be able to log in to Windows 8 automatically, or stream music and video with a tap. We saw a demonstration with an Android phone and everything works as advertised — the phone paired quickly, and the connection remained active so long as the device was on the same Wi-Fi network. HP will also be providing a few small NFC tags that can be configured to log in to Windows, or direct you to a particular website.
The Spectre One's display is bright and inviting, though reflections were a little troublesome in the room's admittedly harsh lighting. The experience was otherwise enjoyable during our time with the machine, with colors reproduced faithfully and nary a hint of sluggish performance. Comfort could be an issue, as the screen sits on a chubby stem that only offers a slight angle for tilt adjustment.
The Spectre One will be powered by Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs and carry a 1GB Nvidia graphics card. HP will also be bundling Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements, but the Spectre One is otherwise sparsely equipped. You'll find two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI-in jack, and the requisite Gigabit ethernet port accompanied by 802.11n Wi-Fi. The machine also lacks a TV tuner or disc drive, amenities that generally benefit all-in-ones destined to serve as media machines. It'll be available in November, and starts at $1,299.
Also announced today are updates to the Envy Touchsmart and Pavilion lines. The HP Envy Touchsmart 20 and 23 will both offer touchscreens and Ivy Bridge processors, and start at $799 and $999, respectively. The $450 Pavilion 20 is a budget offering, and lacks a touchscreen. All three machines will arrive in October.