Two days before Microsoft's big day, HP has taken the wraps off of its Windows 8 laptop lineup. Right off the bat, pricing for the flagship HP Envy X2 hybrid starts at $849, or $250 more than the Microsoft Surface RT and Asus VivoTab when you factor in the cost of their keyboard accessories. That gap serves to highlight some of the philosophical differences between Windows 8 hybrids and Windows RT tablets.
The Surface, VivoTab and other Windows RT tablets come from a tablet-first perspective: they're slate with optional keyboard accessories. The HP Envy X2, on the other hand, bills itself as "A notebook that doubles as a tablet" and sports a sturdier set of keys than you could find in lightweight accessory. Hybrids like the Envy X2 also run Windows 8, which supports backwards compatibility with current-day "Classic" Windows programs. Windows RT tablets are limited to the Windows 8 apps available in the Windows Store.
That's not to say the Intel Atom-powered HP Envy X2 lacks tablet-friendly features, however.
In addition to sporting a magnetically detachable 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 display, the HP Envy X2 packs in Beats Audio, an 8-megapixel camera capable of capturing 1080p videos, and an optional stylus. On the traditional computing side of things, the Envy X2's keyboard base includes an HDMI connection, an SD card slot and a pair of USB 3.0 ports, while the screen itself rocks a micro-SD card slot for adding portable storage while on the run.
In slate mode the Envy X2 weighs 1.5 lbs., which tops out at 3.1 lbs. as a full-blown laptop. The convertible should hit the streets on November 15.
If you want a bit more on-the-go oomph than the HP Envy X2's Clover Trail processor can provide, HP also announced the Envy Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook. Starting at $1,399, the Spectre XT TouchSmart is a notebook proper rather than a convertible, sporting a multi-touch 1080p IPS display, a Thunderbolt port and a thickness (or should that be thin-ness?) of just 0.7-inch. Expect it to touch down sometime in November.
Finally, the 14-inch HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 is already available for preorders starting at $799. Dig into the full details in our freshly posted review of HP's first Windows 8 notebook.