Hands-on preview of HP’s motion sensing Envy notebook and more

Christmas is just around the corner, and HP is teasing several cool new products to come. Indeed, we’ve just attended a New York event organised by HP, and the PC maker had plenty of new toys to show off, from desktops that recline to laptops with motion control.

At the event, we got to spend a little time with three new products: The new HP Chromebook 14, the HP Envy Recline all-in-one desktops, and the HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE TouchSmart notebook with built-in motion control.

A laptop that Leaps

The newest member of HP's premium Envy line of laptops has an unusual feature – 3D motion control. In addition to regular features like a keyboard, touchpad, and webcam, the 17in HP Envy special edition laptop has a miniaturised Leap Motion Controller built into the palm rest. The new embedded microsensor is a smaller version of the Leap Motion Controller that went on sale (for £70) earlier this year, and brings 3D gesture control to the PC.

The new sensor allows for 3D motion sensing, letting you gesture in the air above the sensor to interact with an array of apps and usability tools on the PC. Using the sensor is fairly intuitive, and it can be turned on and off with a simple keystroke combination. Leap Motion's app store, Airspace, is filled with free and paid apps that take advantage of the sensor's unique capabilities, so it's not just hardware for hardware's sake.

The HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE TouchSmart notebook will sell for $1,049.99 (£650), but the release date has not been specified – it’s expected to be available at some point next month, though.

Desktops that Recline

HP is also trying something new with its all-in-one PCs, with new designs featuring an adjustable stand with a distinctive recline mode, where the display lowers to an angle below the edge of a desk or table. The low-hanging position is ideal for extended touchscreen use, putting the display nearer your lap for a more comfortable experience when typing on the screen or using both hands for applications like painting or games.

The HP Envy Recline 27 TouchSmart All-in-One offers more than just a broad, adjustable touchscreen. The 27in PC can be outfitted with up to an Intel Core i7 fourth-generation quad-core processor, up to 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hybrid drive, and Nvidia graphics.

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The Envy Recline 27 TouchSmart All-in-One is priced at £1,618 this side of the pond, and is available to order now in the US (and will hopefully be out very soon over here).

The HP Envy Recline 23 TouchSmart All-in-One Beats Special Edition boasts many of the same features as the larger Envy Recline 27, but adds a distinctive red and black colour scheme and potent Beats Audio speakers and headphone amplification.

Offering an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a two year warranty, the HP Envy Recline 23 TouchSmart All-in-One Beats Special Edition starts at $1,099 (£685 – but of course given the Recline 27’s cost in pounds, any UK price will be more than this). Check it out in the slideshow above.

Colourful Chromebooks

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Finally, there's a colourful new Chromebook on the way. First seen at IDF, the new HP Chromebook 14 gets a slight redesign from the previous Pavilion Chromebook 14, with a moulded plastic construction, and swooping curves similar to those seen on the HP Envy. It’s also available in three colours: Coral peach, snow white, ocean turquoise.

The new Chromebook (see the above slideshow for pics) is equipped with an as-yet-unspecified Intel Haswell processor, a 16GB solid-state drive (SSD), and a 14in display. It has an estimated battery life of up to 9.5 hours, and comes with 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years.

In the few minutes we got to spend with the new Chromebook 14, the design felt surprisingly solid. This is in spite of the fact that the Chromebook 14 is (to borrow a phrase from Apple) "unapologetically plastic" and inexpensive.

The new laptop features the unique Chrome keyboard, which swaps out basic functions for more web-friendly options, for example replacing the Caps Lock key with a dedicated Google Search button. It also has a fairly large clickpad, which will support one and two-fingered gestures in Chrome OS.

The new HP Chromebook 14 will go on sale later this year, starting at $299.99 (£185).