HP is mixing it up in the desktop space with the release of two new machines: the Pavilion Wave, a compact PC that closely resembles a bookshelf speaker, and the Elite Slice which takes on the modular concept to bring a space saving option to business users. HP calls it the "desktop reinvention" and you can see the company has put some though into it.
HP Pavilion Wave
The Pavilion Wave desktop eschews the box or tower design for a sleek, fabric-covered design that combines a PC and a speaker in a triangular case. The Wave is modern enough to be showcased on a desk or blend in your living room, it's fine-tuned for music with a high-definition audio system at its core, and takes on the Amazon Echo too thanks to the unit's two built-in dual microphones for giving out voice commands to Microsoft's Cortana.
Starting at $529.99, the HP Pavilion Wave packs a decent punch under the hood. Depending on the model, configuration options include a 35W Intel 6th-generation (Skylake) quad-core CPU, ranging from Core i3 all the way up to Core i7, 4GB to 16GB of DDR4 memory, and up to 1TB solid state or 2TB spinning disk storage.
Usually with small form factor PCs you can't expect much on the graphics side but HP at least includes the AMD R9 M470 discrete GPU as an option. This won't make the Wave a gaming powerhouse but will offer respectable performance on moderate settings.
In terms of ports and connectivity the desktop can support two 4K displays and features three USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Type C port, an HDMI port, one DisplayPort, Gigabit ethernet and a microphone/headphone jack. All but a front facing USB and microphone/headphone jack are neatly located on a vertical strip running up the back of the system.
HP Elite Slice
The Elite Slice is targeted at business users in need of a space efficient desktop PC. Its headlining feature is a modular design that lets users extend its capabilities as needed by stacking additional components together without having to pulling it apart for upgrades, and without taking up as much space traditional desktop towers.
With the Slice you get the core hardware in a 6.5 x 1.4 inch box akin to a Mac Mini. Options include an Intel processor up to a 35W Core i7-6700T, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 512GB NVMe storage, gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. For ports you get two USB Type C ports, two USB 3.0, one DisplayPort, one HDMI and there's an optional fingerprint reader.
There are to 'cover modules' that can go on top – the HP Collaboration Cover featuring call management and capacitive touch keys for Skype for Business, and the HP Wireless Charging cover for charging devices that support this capability.
The rest of the modules daisy-chain onto the bottom of the main PC module thanks to a special connector and a locking mechanism. For now, these include an audio module that includes speakers and a microphone array and an optical drive module, as well as a VESA mounting-plate module that you can attach to the bottom.
It's an interesting concept and HP is not the first to explore it – Acer has been doing it with the Revo series and Razer also tried it with Project Christine back in 2014. Of course one drawback is that you rely on the manufacturer to keep supporting it in the future.
The HP Elite Slice will be available starting in November at a starting price of $699. Modules will be sold separately for between $35 and $110.