miércoles, 23 de febrero de 2011

HP gets down to business with redesigned and refreshed EliteBook and ProBook laptops (hands-on)

Two weeks ago "consumers" got totally redesigned HP Pavilion dv and g-series laptops, leaving those poor guys in the conference room with nothing but their "old" Calpella-based machines and sad Excel spreadsheets.
Well, it's their turn now alright -- HP's been stirring up brand new EliteBook and ProBooks for the guys and gals in suits (though, we're really of the mind that these laptops are for anyone looking for some tough and powerful hardware). All ten of the new machines (yep, 10!) have been given new metal designs, Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors, facial recognition software, and an easy-access latch to get to the hard drive and RAM. And there's more -- hit the jump for a break down and impressions of each of the models, and don't forget to check those galleries below for some shots of these rigs in the flesh. 

HP EliteBook p-series

The 14-inch EliteBook 8460p and 15.6-inch EliteBook 8560p still look like they belong in the office, but the new bead-blasted magnesium-aluminum lid, edges, and palmrest, which are resistant to smudges, make the machines tough enough to take a serious beating on-the-go. They've even met the MIL-STD 810G military standards making them "business-rugged." And that's not the whole durable story -- both models have a double-shot display frames and aluminum-alloy hinges (picture of that here). 

Overall, we have to say we were really impressed with the tough feel of the chassis, although it makes them a bit heavy (the 8460p weighs 4.56 pounds and the 8560p 6.1 pounds). However, our favorite two features are more focused on actual usability. The first is the chemically strengthen glass touchpad. It feels great under a finger -- a lot like the one on the Lenovo U260 actually -- and it has two dedicated right and left mouse buttons. In fact, HP's decided to exterminate the ClickPads altogether on these new business models. Still alive, however, are the pointing sticks. The second is the easy access panel on the bottom of the systems -- snap off the rear cover and you've got full access to the hard drive, RAM, etc. Seriously, it looks insanely easy to pull out the hard drive and put in, oh say, one of those new OCZ Vertex 3 Pro SSDs.

So, what are you getting exactly on the inside of these rigs? Both will be configurable with Sandy Bridge Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, up to 8GB of RAM, a USB 3.0 port, and AMD Radeon HD 6470M graphics. There will also be three-, six-, and nine-cell battery options, and HP's claiming that the SSD, nine-cell battery, and "ultra-capacity" extended battery configurations will keep these bad boys running for 32 hours. Obviously, that setup will cost quite a bit more than the $999 starting price. 

HP ProBook b-series

As always, HP's ProBooks are for the more mainstream business users, which basically means, they're cheaper. The new 13.3-inch 6360b, 14-inch 6460b, and 15.6-inch 6560b, are similarly made out of aluminum, although they don't have the same finish as the EliteBooks and are a darker tungsten color. They also don't get the higher quality glass touchpad, but the pad is roomy and the rubbery right and left buttons have a nice texture to them.

Spec-wise, the ProBooks are very similar to the EliteBooks -- they're available with Intel Celeron, Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, up to 8GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon 6470 graphics. Oh, and did we mention they'll have an HD webcam option? Both the ProBooks and the EliteBooks have HP's new facial recognition software and the usual HP QuickWeb pre-boot environment. The b-series will start at $799. 

HP ProBook s-series

This series is definitely the middle child of the bunch -- it just doesn't get the same kind of love as the others, but then again it's the cheapest. It may have a brushed-aluminum finish, but it's pretty plain in design. All the versions -- there's the 14-inch 4430s, 15.6-inch 4530s, and 17-inch 4730s -- will have Intel Celeron, Core i3, i5, and i7 processor options. (Note: there are 12- and 13-inchers as well, but they won't be coming to the US). While there will be AMD GPU options, the models offered will primarily have integrated graphics, which makes sense for the $579 starting price. 

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