You Need To Check Out HP’s New ENVY And ZBooks If You Are A Creator And Looking At Apple MacBook Pros

Last week HP announced their new Envy lineup of 13-inch,15-inch, and 17-inch notebooks as well as a refresh of its creator ZBook mobile workstations. With these new releases, HP is showcasing its take on creator specific laptops.

One of the coolest parts about my job is I get to interact with companies who grow and change not only their products and services but help enable cultural shifts and trends. HP is a company that I follow closely, and I’ve been able to witness its creator culture first-hand. Creator laptops are starting to become more popular, with a push from NVIDIA (see here and here), and HP is looking at “creator” as more of a broad term than what is imagined. For the most part, creators have been linked to the idea of content creation and gaming. The broader term that HP is going with is anybody who uses their device to create something from passion or personal growth as a professional, prosumer, or consumer. This isn’t the definition I use but I see HP’s point. HP is working closely with NVIDIA to layout a foundation for these creator laptops with the ENVY 15, ZBook Creator, and ZBook Studio. Let’s take a look at what HP announced.

HP ENVY laptops for creators

HP’s newest ENVY portfolio consists of the HP Envy 13, Envy 15, Envy 17, Envy x360 13, and HP Envy x360 15 laptops. HP’s ENVY lineup includes incremental changes that move the laptop towards a creator audience. HP’s diverse portfolio of ENVY laptops with 2-in-1 options and large or small displays meet the challenge of providing a laptop for every type of creator.

The ENVY 15 is the most powerful creator laptop of the ENVY series. It has an all-aluminum chassis with an 82.6% screen to body ratio. The display is tuned for creators who need color-accurate screens with up to a 4k OLED VESA certified DisplayHDR true Black Display. It has a 100%DCI-P3 wide color gamut with the 4k display option being color calibrated with Delta < 2. It comes with Intel’s 10th Gen Core processors with up to an RTX 2060 with Max-Q.

Although I would like to see it, there is no variant with AMD’s Ryzen 4000U series as from my point of view, particularly when it comes to video editing, it cannot be beaten. Here’s my take on AMD’s 4000 Series. It can be configured to have up to 2 TB of PCIe storage in a RAID 0. HP has not left out any angle of its creator audience. The ENVY 15 has the screen for video and photography editing, and the internals for content creation and gaming. It is overall a beefed-out laptop in terms of raw specs.

The HP x360 15-inch and 17-inch come with AMD’s newest 4000U series APUs with the HP x360 15-inch having an Intel Core 10th Gen CPU with Intel’s UHD Graphics and Iris Plus Graphics. The 13-inch did not show an option with Intel hardware, so I assume it will most likely come later in the year with Tiger Lake. Both have an 88% screen-to-body ratio with the 15-inch x360 having the option for a 4k OLED display.

HP’s ENVY 13 comes with Intel’s 10th Gen CPUs with Iris Plus and UHD Graphics, and no AMD Ryzen 4000U series variant. HP says it has up to 15.5 hours of battery life under a “mixed usage” test. I will have to get my hands on one of these to see how close HP is to that for real-world testing.

The ENVY 17 is the largest out of the creator lineup with a 4K UHD display option. It also has NVME SSD and dual storage options. The HP ENVY 17 comes in two variants, an Intel version with NVIDIA X330 dedicated graphics and an AMD variant with its new 4000U series APUs.

HP’s QuickDrop is a new feature for the ENVY 15. It allows files to be wirelessly transferred from the ENVY 15 to an iPhone or Android device. It is comparable to something like Apple’s AirDrop and Your Phone app for Windows. The difference is QuickDrop’s ability to transfer files between both iOS and Android, not just on or the other. I will be interested to see how well this stacks up to Your Phone, AirDrop, and many others like it. I think a determining factor for user adoption over these other services will be how quickly the transfer speeds and reliability are to the competition. No solutions like this are great and have their advantages and disadvantages and am optimistic about QuickDrop.

ZBook Create and Studio for creators

HP’s ZBook lineup strives to offer the performance of a desktop in the smaller form factor of a laptop. ZBook are mobile “workstations in the sense that most models are certified with special workstation applications and offer NVIDIA Quadro and Intel Xeon processors.

Last year at Computex, HP emphasized VR for its users and was one of the first to put VR capabilities in a laptop. While the ZBook Create and Studio are both VR-ready, these laptops go past VR and into a slim and light creator form factor. HP boasts that the ZBook Create and Studio are the smallest 15-inch laptop for creation and VR.

The ZBook Create and Studio are the first mobile workstations made from ocean-bound plastics. Source HP

The only differences between the Create and Studio are the prices and the graphics. The Create comes with an NVIDIA GeForce dGPU with Turing technology, and the Studio comes with an NVIDIA Quadro dGPU with Turing technology. I recommend GeForce if your software doesn’t require certifications and Quadro if they do. For creators who need accurate colors and a dominating display, they have an 87% screen-to-body ratio with a NextGen Dream Color display. The creator ZBook workstations have a keyboard technology specific for creators with a layout similar to that of Apple’s keyboards in a layout that is intended to be replaced. Sneaky and smart, HP.

It has a new predictive algorithm that switches between GPU and CPU usage for maximum performance, depending on what task is at hand. HP also boasts “the world’s best audio” in a creation and gaming notebook with a 150Hz bass roll-off and loud decibels.

The ZBook Create and Studio both support NVIDIA’s Studio drivers for creators. NVIDIA has a software stack for apps to support ray tracing and AI acceleration. This includes top game creation software and game creation engines like Unreal Engine and Unity.

The ZBook creator laptops can outperform Apple’s MacBook Pro in just about every way. The ZBook Create and Studio laptops weigh less than 4lbs compared to the MacBook Pro’s 4.3lbs. They have 100% DCI-P3 color gamut for more accurate colors compared to the MacBook Pro’s P3 wide color gamut. They support a more powerful 10th Gen Intel Core processor as well as an option for Intel’s Xeon processor compared to the MacBook’s 9th Gen Intel Core processor. They have NVIDIA’s GeForce and Quadro RTX graphics, not to mention support for NVIDIA’s RTX Studio Program, compared to the MacBook’s AMD Radeon Pro 5500m. The ZBook laptops have better port options, brighter displays, better security. I could go on. From specs alone, the ZBook Create and Studio come out on top in just about every category

Wrapping up

HP is intelligently focusing on user creation this year with its ENVY line of laptops.

I think the HP ENVY lineup has a great diversity for creators with the ENVY 15 having the specs for an all-around creator specific device. The ZBook Create and Studio both have the performance we expect from a desktop in new slim and light form factors. HP’s ZBook creator laptops are really powerful mobile workstations certified for workstation software. They are VR ready and, with the support of NVIDIA, are “creator-ready” with NVIDIA’s ray tracing and AI acceleration software stack app support.

Net-net if you create content like videos, music, web sites, photos, or are an application programmer or are considering an Apple MacBook, you must add the new ENVY and ZBooks into your consideration set.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

Disclosure: Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided paid research, analysis, advising, or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry, including Amazon.com, Advanced Micro Devices, Apstra, ARM Holdings, Aruba Networks, AWS, A-10 Strategies, Bitfusion, Cisco Systems, Dell, Dell EMC, Dell Technologies, Diablo Technologies, Digital Optics, Dreamchain, Echelon, Ericsson, Foxconn, Frame, Fujitsu, Gen Z Consortium, Glue Networks, GlobalFoundries, Google, HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei Technologies, IBM, Intel, Interdigital, Jabil Circuit, Konica Minolta, Lattice Semiconductor, Lenovo, Linux Foundation, MACOM (Applied Micro), MapBox, Mavenir, Mesosphere, Microsoft, National Instruments, NetApp, NOKIA, Nortek, NVIDIA, ON Semiconductor, ONUG, OpenStack Foundation, Panasas, Peraso, Pixelworks, Plume Design, Portworx, Pure Storage, Qualcomm, Rackspace, Rambus, Rayvolt E-Bikes, Red Hat, Samsung Electronics, Silver Peak, SONY, Springpath, Sprint, Stratus Technologies, Symantec, Synaptics, Syniverse, TensTorrent, Tobii Technology, Twitter, Unity Technologies, Verizon Communications, Vidyo, Wave Computing, Wellsmith, Xilinx, Zebra, which may be cited in this article.