HP today announced a new lineup of powerful mobile workstations, ideal for engineering, power-computing and graphic design. We spent some hands-on time with pre-production samples of these notebooks and can finally share what we’ve learned.
Unlike previous generations of HP mobile workstations which were essentially standard EliteBooks with different internal components, the new notebooks feature HP’s first-ever industrial design specific to mobile workstations. The new EliteBook 8460w, 8560w and 8760w have a traditional box-like shape with aluminum-alloy and titanium-alloy components, a new radial-brushed gunmetal finish and orange-colored accents. Inside the new mobile workstations feature second-generation Intel Core i7 and i5 dual-core and quad-core processors with vPro compatibility and support up to 32GB of RAM.
HP’s most powerful mobile workstation, the HP EliteBook 8760w offers a 17.3-inch diagonal, high-definition screen, and a choice of high-performing AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics with up to 4GB of video memory. The EliteBook 8760w also can be configured with one of three hard drives and RAID 5 support – a first for HP mobile workstations. Pricing for the EliteBook 8760w starts at $1,899 and is expected to be available in the U.S. starting in May.
The HP EliteBook 8560w features a 15.6-inch diagonal HD display and supports AMD FirePro graphics with 1GB of video memory or NVIDIA Quadro graphics with 2GB of video memory. The optional HP DreamColor display on the EliteBook 8560w and 8760w also allows for more than 1 billion active color possibilities. Pricing for the EliteBook 8560w starts at $1,349 and the notebook is also expected to be available in May.
HP’s smallest and lightest mobile workstation, the HP EliteBook 8460w, starts at only 4.9 pounds and includes a 14.0-inch diagonal HD panel, in addition to an AMD FirePro 1GB video memory professional graphics card for true on-the-road video performance. The 8460w has a starting price of $1,299 and — you guessed it — will be available starting in May.
Durable Design Meets DreamColor
The HP EliteBook 8760w, 8560w and 8460w feature an HP DuraCase chassis that is MIL STD 810G tested for drop, vibration, dust and altitude that might arise during a road warrior’s typical work day. The HP EliteBook 8760w and 8560w also feature a backlit keyboard so you can keep working at night or inside a dark airplane.
Additionally, the HP DreamColor display option on the HP EliteBook 8760w and 8560w allows for more than 1 billion active color combinations (64 times more than a typical laptop screen) and uses a 30-bit notebook LCD panel. When equipped with an AMD discrete graphics solution and an optional HP Advanced Docking Station, the HP mobile workstations support AMD Eyefinity Technology for simultaneous support for up to five independent displays.
In terms of storage, the HP EliteBook mobile workstations offer SMART SATA, Self Encrypting or Solid State Drives, with up to RAID 5 capability. The mobile workstations are also packed with USB 3.0, eSATA and USB 2.0 charging ports. HP apparently hope to deliver better-than-average audio from these new workstations, so all three are equipped with SRS Premium Sound for an improved multimedia experience.
The HP EliteBook 8760w and 8560w offer an 8-cell primary battery, while the HP EliteBook 8460w offers 6- and 9-cell options for extended battery run time. All models include an HP Long Life Battery option. The mobile workstations also are compatible with the new HP Extended Life Notebook Battery and HP Ultra-Capacity Notebook Battery, which offer external battery supplies for additional run time.
One More Thing … Or Five
All three of the new mobile workstations offer the HP Professional Innovations software package which including the following. HP QuickWeb isessentially a version of Linux with a web browser that allows you to instantly turn on the PC and jump on the web without starting Windows. HP Power Assistant lets you monitor power consumption, record stats for analysis, and adjust settings to improve performance or decrease power consumption. HP Connection Manager is a typical network connection wizard for getting connected to Wi-Fi, 3G and other networks. HP ProtectTools is a ssecurity application that includes standard drive encryption for data protection. Last but not least, HP Performance Advisor provides a simple user interface that charts how much of the EliteBook’s processor, GPU and memory are being used and allows you to optimize graphics performance or determine when you need to make an upgrade.
We only had a a brief opportunity to mess with pre-production samples of the the EliteBook 8460w, 8560w and 8760w before the announcement, but our initial impressions are favorable. I hesitate to judge a notebook by it’s cover, but new radial-brushed metal LCD lid and heavy use of metal alloys in the rest of the chassis give each of these EliteBooks a real feeling of durability mixed with premium finish.
I was honestly a little disappointed at first when I heard the 14-inch EliteBook 8460w won’t have an optional backlit keyboard, but that is due to the fact that there wasn’t room for it inside the smaller 14-inch chassis with all of the high-performance hardware unless HP sacrificed keyboard durability and flex. HP engineers weren’t willing to make that sacrifice.
The Chiclet-style keyboards on all three notebooks feel firm with smooth action and good feedback on each invividual key. The touchpads are nice and large — even on the 14-inch model — and the orange-colored pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard is still there if you don’t like using the touchpad.
Although the new EliteBook mobile workstations aren’t abnormally heavy, it’s pretty obvious that the liberal use of metal alloys and abundance of high-performance components inside resulted in notebooks that are heavier than a regular HP EliteBooks. We’ll hold our final opinion on these notebooks until we’re able to run them through our test lab. I’ll be counting the days until then.