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HP’s Surface competitors are getting even better

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

HP is announcing a handful of laptop upgrades today, but two stand out for going head to head with Microsoft’s Surface line. The first is an upgrade of HP’s Spectre x2, making it into a more capable Surface Pro competitor. And the second is a slimmed down Envy 13 that makes the laptop look like it could be a better MacBook Air alternative than the Surface Laptop.

The Spectre x2 — a tablet with a detachable keyboard case — was pretty well received when it was introduced two years ago, but it had one big drawback: it could only be configured with Intel’s Core m processors. That made the Spectre x2 a far less powerful device than the Surface Pro, or really just a typical laptop, and HP says it heard that customers wanted more. So it’s updated the machine this year to use Core i processors — real ones, not the Core m-style processors that Intel decided to rename Core i last year.

The upside of this is that the Spectre x2 should be capable of doing more than just casual web browsing. The downside is that it might run a bit hotter, it now includes a fan (which will make it louder), and it’s going to have shorter battery life. HP is estimating just eight hours this year, down from 10 hours on the original model. The tablet has also gotten a little bit thinner, and HP has cut down its bezels so it looks better overall.

HP is also updating a few other specs. The tablet still has a 12-inch display, but now it has a 3000 x 2000 resolution, up from 1920 x 1280 on the original. This model comes with a 360GB SSD, instead of a 128GB SSD. And the tablet’s two USB ports have been switched to USB-C.

While there’s no one game-changing upgrade here, these all add up to put the Spectre x2 into a much more premium space, where it’ll have an easier time going head to head with the Surface Pro. It’ll go on sale next month with a starting price of $999.99.

The other big release from HP today is a new Envy 13 laptop. It’s a metal laptop that’s essentially HP’s answer to the MacBook Air. This year, its bezels have been narrowed down quite a bit so that the whole laptop is about 0.8 inches narrower and 0.4 inches shorter. At it actually looks a bit like Dell’s XPS 13, which makes sense since it’s competing in the same space.

HP had already refreshed the Envy 13 with Kaby Lake processors, so the rest of the specs are staying pretty much the same here. It has a 13.3-inch 1080p display, a 128GB SSD (the old model started at 256GB), 8GB of RAM, and an estimated 14 hours of battery life. The new model also ditches HDMI to add an extra USB-C port, so there are now two USB-C ports and two traditional USB 3 ports.

The laptop looks nice and feels sturdy. And while it isn’t as immediately catchy as the Surface Laptop, it feels like HP has a solid answer to Microsoft’s latest challenger. The Envy 13 starts at $1,049.99 and includes full Windows 10.

Those are the two big changes to HP’s lineup today, but it actually has two other laptops that it’s updating as well. The Envy 17 is now a little bit thinner and comes with discrete graphics, Nvidia’s GeForce 940MX, by default. And the Envy x360 15 is getting updated with slimmer bezels, making the whole machine a little bit smaller.

Correction May 22nd, 2:56PM ET: This article initially referred incorrectly to the Spectre x2 as the Elite x2 and the Envy 13 as the Elite 13 in several locations. We regret the errors.

Correction May 24th, 1:35PM ET: The Spectre x2 does have a fan, unlike what an HP representative initially told us, and is thinner than its predecessor, not thicker, as the company’s press material initially indicated.