HP highlights skinny monitors, media player, and budget Windows 8 laptops at CES

HP Envy 27-inch monitor

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Hewlett-Packard's top CES 2013 product announcement is about a display. That's right: Not a laptop, not a tablet, but a relatively pedestrian PC display. Now, perhaps, we can see why the company didn't rent any booth space in Las Vegas this year.

That HP considers its new Envy 27-inch IPS Monitor with Beats Audio (shown above) its marquee product for CES is likely a sign of the ongoing turmoil and uninspired product mix at the Palo Alto, California, tech giant.

The company also is announcing several new, low-cost laptops, portable media storage, and a streaming device called the HP Pocket Playlist.

It's not a portfolio designed to foster confidence in a company's innovation.

Eclectic mix or muddled mess?

HP's CES announcements seem like an odd mix for a company that desperately needs to position itself as an innovator in the PC space. Once you get beneath the admittedly elegant appearance, the monitors are all pretty standard fare.

HP isn't pushing resolution or pricing, although the broad support for better LCD panel technologies beyond TN LCD is welcome. The new laptops don't break new ground, either, other than price; although they are thinner and lighter than past low-end consumer laptops from HP.

HP Pocket Playlist
HP Pocket Playlist

The Pocket Playlist is probably the most intriguing device. By allowing time-shifting for multiple devices simultaneously, the Playlist is positioned to take advantage of consumers' increasing reliance on mobile devices for their content consumption. Collecting your content via the DVR without impinging on the precious data caps inherent in most mobile phones and tablets could be a winner, but the PlayLater app may require ongoing fees, depending on whose content you're recording.

Monitors lead the way

The $499, 27-inch Envy IPS Monitor is super-thin, which adhers to the overall Envy aesthetic, but the resolution is a pretty stock 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels (FullHD.) Users expecting a touch display from HP to better support Windows 8 will be disappointed; the Envy 27-inch display and other HP monitors that will be shown at CES lack multitouch support.

In addition to the Envy display, HP is announcing a line of Pavilion monitors, including the 22xi, 23xi, 25xi, and 27 xi desktop monitors. The new Pavilion monitors also use IPS panel technology, with wide viewing angles and improved color fidelity. All support FullHD resolution with the exception of the 20xi, which offers 1600-pixel-by-900-pixel support. The new monitors include VGA, HDMI, and DVI connectivity. Prices range from $130 to $340.

The final product in HP's desktop monitor line is the 24-inch x2401, which is an extremely thin display?thinner than the Envy 27?which uses MVA (multi-domain vertical alignment) LCD technology. The $249 x2401 is tuned for accurate colors and contrast when playing video content.

Of all the monitors HP brought to CES 2013, perhaps the most intriguing display is the 15.6-inch portable U160, which connects to laptops via USB. At just 3.4 pounds and barely thicker than an inch, the U160 allows laptop users to carry a second display.

In an era of 11- to 13-inch Ultrabooks, a lightweight secondary display can be useful, particularly if you're working with multiple documents on a regular basis. The $179 U160 is scheduled to be available later in January.

HP still sells PCs

HP also is rolling out a pair of AMD-equipped consumer laptops as part of its Sleekbook line. Both are 15.6-inch systems, offering 1366-pixel-by-768-pixel resolution.

HP Pavilion Touchsmart Sleekbook
HP Pavilion Touchsmart Sleekbook

The HP Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook integrates full 10-point multitouch support for better Windows 8 integration.

The TouchSmart Sleekbook is slated to ship February 3, 2013, includes an AMD A10 quad-core APU, and is priced at $649.

The $479 Pavilion Sleekbook pushes the price of a 15.6-inch Windows 8 laptop to under $500. The Pavilion Sleekbook ships with an AMD A8 APU, and supports Windows 8's touch interface through a multitouch trackpad. The Pavilion Sleekbook is scheduled to become available January 13, 2013.

The mobile DVR

HP's Pocket Playlist is a tiny, cell-phone-sized device with integrated flash memory that allows the unit to act as a DVR.

The Pocket Playlist can stream content to five mobile devices without a data plan or Internet connection. The Playlist supports Android, Windows, and iOS mobile devices. The Pocket Playlist relies on PlayOn's PlayLater app to manage DVR chores.

According to HP, the $129 Playlist can contain up to 16 full-length movies or 7600 songs. The Pocket Playlist is scheduled to ship in mid-February.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out our complete coverage of CES 2013.

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