HP laptops get optional USB 3.0

This is supposed to be USB 3.0’s breakout year, and HP is leading the charge with a handful of new laptops.

The PC-maker’s high-end Envy 15 now supports “SuperSpeed” USB 3.0 in certain configurations. You’ll need an Intel Core i7 processor and and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5830 Graphics card to get the USB 3.0 jack. I’ve tried walking through that process in HP’s online store, and there’s no indication you’re getting the new USB standard, but HP representatives have confirmed it to CNet.

Aside from the HP Envy 15, which in the Core i7 configuration starts at $1,450, HP’s Elitebook 8540p and 8540w will include USB 3.0 in a couple of weeks.

hpenvy15

USB 3.0 is supposed to transfer files 10 times faster than USB 2.0. That claim pretty much holds up in a demonstration video posted on CNet. A file transfer to the HP Envy using USB 2.0 took about 18 seconds, while the USB 3.0 transfer took roughly two seconds. It’s impressive.

Obviously, laptops are a crucial step for the adoption of USB 3.0, but right now, it’s not a given that many manufacturers will include it. NVidia and others have claimed that Intel’s chipsets won’t support the standard until 2011. That means laptop makers must install discrete USB 3.0 controllers on their motherboards. HP is among the first companies to do so, and Asus will reportedly follow suit by the end of the month.

If you’re in the market for a new computer, and you get one of these USB 3.0-capable machines, there are a few external hard drives that will play nicely. Dane-Elec, Freecom, Western Digital and Seagate are among the manufacturers who are getting an early start with the standard.