Beats is out, B&O is in for HP laptops and tablets
Your next HP laptop will have premium audio powered by Bang & Olufsen rather than Beats, after the electronics giant drew its existing partnership to a close. The end to the HP/Beats deal, which has been in place since 2009, was widely predicted after Apple purchased Dr. Dre's music company for US$3 billion last May.
B&O technology and expertise will make its way into HP tablets and headphones too, so the Danish firm has very much stepped into the role vacated by its predecessor. After acquiring Beats, Apple decided to end various third-party tie-ins, including the one with HP. Beats Audio currently appears on around 15-20 percent of devices sold by HP.
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HP kit has long been associated with high-quality audio performance – not necessarily the first feature you look for in a laptop – thanks primarily to its deal with Beats. The company will be hoping that signing up another high-profile, premium audio partner will continue this reputation. For B&O, it means more exposure for its brand.
"HP and Bang & Olufsen will custom tune each notebook, desktop, tablet and accessory for precise sound," promised the companies as the deal was announced. "In all HP devices that carry the Bang & Olufsen or B&O Play brand, a dedicated audio island isolates the sensitive audio circuits from other signals on the motherboard."
There will also be an audio control panel dialog on all HP/B&O laptops, letting users customize their listening experience for movies, music and voice calls. You'll be able to manually adjust the settings yourself or select from one of the presets tuned by engineers from HP and Bang & Olufsen.
HP says devices with B&O technology will start to appear this (Northern) spring, though right up until the end of 2014 it was making laptops featuring Beats Audio, so they'll be on store shelves for a while yet. HP's Spectre, Omen and Envy laptop lines will be the first in the queue for some B&O-powered; audio goodness.
As for Beats, we may well soon see the company's years of audio expertise appearing in products released by Apple, though as yet nothing official has appeared. Apple and Beats staff are also rumored to be working on a Spotify-style streaming service that plugs into iTunes.