Amazon’s Alexa has been showing up everywhere, so it only makes sense that the digital assistant would eventually get built into PCs. One of the first to feature Alexa is HP’s new 34-inch curved all-in-one, which has a large base with a speaker on the front and a glowing blue light that turns on when you activate Amazon’s smart assistant.
The updated Envy Curved AiO is largely the same as the redesigned model that HP released last year. The specs are updated, it now features a fake wooden texture — which looks somewhere between fine and ‘possibly even nice but who knows because I saw it in a hotel meeting room with dim lighting’ — and that’s about it. But the lack of change is fine: it’s a great design, it has a loud speaker with a neat-looking ring for adjusting the volume, a built-in wireless phone charger, and I love that the webcam is hidden until you pop it up. Plus, there’s a huge screen that literally starts to surround you.
An Alexa app comes preinstalled on the computer, which you can use to call up the assistant and see any information that it wants to display for you, like weather forecasts or the album art of any music you ask it to play. The PC is also always listening for the Alexa command — this didn’t work particularly well in the few minutes I spent with the computer, but I was in a very noisy room with more than a dozen other people, so I’m guessing that won’t be a reflection of its actual performance.
Because an all-in-one is always plugged in and always on, it makes a ton of sense to build a smart assistant into one. There is one big downside in this case, though: HP doesn’t include a mute button, so there’s no quick way to turn the assistant on and off. Every major Alexa-enabled device has a mute button, so I’m pretty surprised one isn’t included here. I’m not sure what’ll happen if you’re, say, on a video call with someone named Alexa.
The computer doesn’t launch until later this year, and so far HP doesn’t have a specific release date or price. Expect it to start in the high $1,000s, though; there’s also a 27-inch model of the all-in-one, which doesn’t include Alexa or the curved display, that’s launching for $1,400 later this month.
HP is also updating a bunch of other Envy products today. The Envy line contains HP’s second-tier lineup of PCs — the highest end are in HP’s Spectre line. The Envy line gets close in performance and style, but is generally just a little bit less polished.
The other Envy products include an updated Envy 13 Laptop, Envy x360 13, Envy x360 15, and Envy 17 laptop. The Envy 13 Laptop and Envy 17 laptop come with eighth-generation Intel processors, but the x360 13 is only offered with AMD’s Ryzen chips. The x360 15 can be configured with either. The updates are all due out in May.