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Video: Hands-on with the modular HP Elite Slice and fabric-clad Pavilion Wave

HP has launched a pair of new PCs that might be the most unusual desktops we’ve seen in months. The HP Elite Slice and the Pavilion Wave were unveiled at IFA 2016, where we were able to get a closer look.

HP Pavilion Wave: It’s a PC that’s also a speaker

The Pavilion Wave will divide opinion. Coated in quality fabric it looks like a high-end Bluetooth speaker, with the B&O branding on the front only adding to that feel. I think it’s supremely attractive and one of the best-looking compact desktops around, but TrustedReviews‘ Editor Evan Kypreos branded it a ‘piece of carpet’ and refused to change his stance. Mixed views.

Related: Best gaming PC specs to build yourself

At the top is a series of vents that both channel hot air from the components inside and the sound from the built-in speaker. From what I could hear, it sounded reasonably good, with even a bit of bass. I saw the device at a fairly busy event, so my impressions of the audio should be taken with a pinch of salt.

There’s also a built-in microphone, so you won’t need extra peripherals on your desk beyond a keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Inside there will be half-fat Intel Core i processors, either Core i3 or i5 chips with a T suffix, designed for smaller desktops with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory. There’ll also be the option of fitting an AMD Radeon R9 M470 GPU for modest gaming performance. It won’t power you to the latest games in Full HD, but it’ll definitely handle eSports titles.

Related: Intel Core i explained

On the rear you get a full set of ports, including two USB 3.0 connectors, a USB 3.1 Type-C, Gigabit Ethernet, an HDMI and DisplayPort as well as a power connector. On the front is another USB 3.0 port and a 3.5mm jack for headphones and external microphones.

It’s no Mac Pro, but it won’t be priced like one either. Cost estimates seem to be in the region of £680 inc VAT for a base model, which is quite expensive, but considering the pleasing design and built-in speakers and mic, it doesn’t seem like a bad deal.

HP Elite Slice: Stack ’em high(ish)

The Elite Slice is a business-focused machine. It comes with a few different modules including a 360-degree speaker, a DVD drive and a VESA mount. It’s less ambitious than last year’s Acer Revo Build, but at least HP’s machine looks like it’s actually coming to market.
Elite Slice

It all connects via the USB-C standard, and once it’s all snapped in place it feels very secure. The only way you’ll be able to disconnect the bits is by pulling on a firm clip at the base of each unit – something you’re unlikely to do by accident.

There are three different versions of the top unit, which contain most of the Intel Core i-based innards. There’s one with no additions, one with a built-in microphone and conference call buttons (and Intel Unite conference call tech) for Skype, and a third option with wireless charging. Only the first two were available to look at on HP’s stand, so it remains to be seen when the wireless charging version will become available.

The standard Elite Slice base unit will start at £500 for an Intel Core i3 model, while the Skype-specialised model will start at £649. There’s no pricing yet on the individual speaker or DVD drive modules.

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