PC

This computer is built to be seen and heard

Under the HP Pavilion Wave's sub-woofer-like guise, it is a Windows 10 computer.
Under the HP Pavilion Wave's sub-woofer-like guise, it is a Windows 10 computer. PHOTO: HP

The HP Pavilion Wave sounds a lot better than basic PC speakers

After unboxing the chic, fabric-clad HP Pavilion Wave, I was momentarily stumped: Is this a computer that looks and works like a speaker, or a speaker that mimics a computer?

The Wave reminds me of the Amazon Echo speaker, but with a triangular instead of a cylindrical body. You'll also need a monitor to use the Wave as, under its sub-woofer-like guise, it is a Windows 10 computer.

Like the Echo, you can issue voice commands to the Wave. But instead of Amazon's Alexa personal assistant, Microsoft's Cortana will tend to your requests.

Cortana is not available in Singapore, though you can enable the feature in the Wave by changing the region setting to a supported country, such as the United States.

To activate the assistant, say "Hey Cortana", followed by your command. It can perform a variety of tasks, from scheduling an appointment to giving you the weather forecast.

However, Cortana stops working when the Wave goes to sleep mode, which means it won't be listening for voice commands. Changing an option in Cortana's settings prevents it from entering sleep mode.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,499

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700T (2.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: AMD Radeon R9 M470

    STORAGE: 1TB HDD

    RAM: 8GB

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, DisplayPort, HDMI, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, audio jack

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

At the middle of the Wave's chassis is a built-in speaker tuned by audio experts from B&O Play. It is surrounded on three sides by internal components like the hard drive and motherboard and cooling system.

The speaker points upwards such that its sound bounces off the curved reflector at the top of the Wave and escapes from the sides in all directions.

My verdict on the audio quality: the Wave sounds a lot better than your basic PC speakers. You can hear it clearly from anywhere in the room because it is loud and multidirectional.

Inside its compact chassis is a fully fledged computer that should be fast enough for mainstream users.

It is equipped with desktop-class PC components, including an Intel Core i7 processor, a 1TB hard drive and a dedicated AMD Radeon graphics chip.

This graphics chip is slightly better than integrated graphics, but it is not for serious gamers. An older title like Bioshock Infinite ran at around 40 frames per second (fps) at the maximum Ultra settings.

This is lower than the 56 fps that I recorded on a last-gen, mid-range gaming laptop.

However, it should be capable of handling daily computing tasks, from Web browsing to editing documents.

The Wave does not lack ports and connectors. At the front, below the B&O logo is a USB 3.0 port and the headphone jack.

At the back, you'll find two more USB 3.0 ports, a new USB 3.1 Type-C connector, Ethernet and SD card reader.

In addition, the Wave connects to a display (up to 4K resolution) via HDMI or DisplayPort.

However, the power button is also located at the back, which is a tad inconvenient.

  • Verdict: With its stylish looks, I can just imagine the Wave sitting in the kitchen or at the TV console in the living room.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'This computer is built to be seen and heard'. Print Edition | Subscribe