The $550 DreamColor IPS Upgrade

And here we get to the tough part. HP touts the DreamColor matte IPS panel option in their EliteBook 8740w with good reason: it's an IPS panel in a market where anything other than a TN is exceedingly rare. The problem is that it does command a premium, and a massive one: $550 ($570 with the webcam). Dell doesn't charge anywhere near as much for their screen upgrades, so we really want to know if we're going to get what we pay for with the DreamColor.

You asked for an IPS panel, and you got one. The DreamColor produces incredibly accurate color that basically covers the AdobeRGB 1998 color space. Contrast is excellent and of course you get fantastic viewing angles as well. Black and white levels are both quite nice. Overall it's a great-looking panel.

That said, it still has trouble surpassing the Dell notebooks, particularly the Precision M6500, which boasts both superior color gamut and color accuracy by our measure. It gets worse, too: that upgrade to the M6500 is about $200 cheaper...but then it's not IPS. Realistically, few people will need the higher Dell Gamut, but you're still looking at almost twice the upgrade cost to get IPS in place of TN, and we'd say the M6500 RGB LED panel is already priced quite high. $600 can get you a pretty awesome 24" desktop LCD, but a 17" laptop panel with similar characteristics still costs more.

Subjectively it must be said that while the DreamColor panel on the EliteBook 8740w is very attractive and miles away from what we're used to seeing, even after calibration colors can feel oversaturated. 100% Adobe RGB gamut is good for those that need it, but for everyone else working in sRGB color space, that's the penalty. Yes, we're used to seeing dismal, washed out color when testing notebooks, but the 8740w's colors are still too bright at times—and it must be said, the 120% gamut of the M6500 is even worse in this respect. Though our measurements don't totally bear this out, there's definitely some black crush going on as well. I use a calibrated Dell 2709WFP on my desktop, a screen most agree has some issues with oversaturation, and it seems positively mild compared to how bright the colors on the 8740w's DreamColor can be.

Make no mistake, this is a fantastic panel; however, it may not be the game-changer we were looking for, especially not when the Precision M6500 is hanging around. $300 will go from standard LCD to high color gamut WUXGA, but you're still stuck with TN panels; the additional $250 will add the viewing angles that IPS provides. As mentioned in our recent look at an old ThinkPad T42, a good laptop display can be nigh on impossible to find, and HP provides one. It just so happens that the display costs as much as (or more than) a larger 24" LCD that could sit on your office desk.

Battery, Noise, and Heat Conclusion: Nice, But Oh! That Pricetag
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  • stanwood - Thursday, December 09, 2010 - link

    Seems like the main reason to get an IPS screen is color fidelity. So I'd be interested to learn if this machine (or others) is effective for photo editing. Or more generally, what CPU/GPU combinations are best for that application. And what features of the CPU/GPU do Aperture, Photoshop, and Lightroom use for hardware accelleration (if any). Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Is the comparison to the M6500 fair? The chart numbers might be misleading, if they apply during perfect perpendicular measurements, while real laptop use involves viewing the screen non-perpendicular and with a different angle on the top versus bottom.

    This point is dramatized when you consider a 25-28" TN, which has a huge color shift from top-to-bottom with normal viewing, but the chart numbers might look fine.
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    ...'borrow' one of Anand's SF SSD's and throw it in this and retest :) Reply
  • qwertymac93 - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    "4x4GB DDR3-1333 (Max 4x8GB)"
    Does this thing really have 16gigs of ram?! that's a lot...
    Reply
  • TheAdAgency - Thursday, December 09, 2010 - link

    No, they only state that several times throughout the article for shock value. Reply
  • ijozic - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    I wondered this ever since I got the M6400 which actually had a Q43 chipset which comes with an integrated GPU - all they had to do is use it and add a hardware switch and you would have a 1-2 hour longer battery life (it was around 2 hours of low intensity usage at best).

    It's even more obvious with this HP model which offers up to an hour and a half of light usage. There are certainly situations where you could use that extra time and given the price tag on these laptops, hybrid graphics should be there. It would be also cool if the CPUs would offer disabling some cores in these low intensity usage situations.

    I like the improvements in the looks department of the HP compared to my old 8710w (brushed aluminum vs plastic and a backlighted keyboard (finally!!)), but I'd still vote for the M6500 looks and keyboard.
    Reply
  • ijozic - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    BTW, the mobile GPUs are rather disappointing in the gaming department by looking at the 3dMark 2006 numbers which are still only a little above the FX3700M. And there was the FX3800M and now the FX5000M. The names change, but little else does :)

    For gaming (however silly it may sound to buy one of these workstations for moderate gaming, but I really hate the childish design of the gaming laptops plus their added weight and dimensions), the best buy would be the ATI cards (the M7740 or M7820) which offer similar performance levels with a lower TDP and a much lower price tag. Too bad the M7740 wasn't around when I was getting my Dell. Anybody wants to trade? :)
    Reply
  • Akv - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    However I am part of the population having large desktops and screens for office and home work, so I have no need for desktop replacement laptops.

    I need a low power low heat low noise laptop for traveling, waiting at the airport and communications from the hotel room.

    A less great screen, but matte for editing a few photos, 15 inches, no need for more on a laptop. For me at least.
    Reply
  • ijozic - Thursday, December 09, 2010 - link

    I understand where you're coming from because it's rather tiring to carry these 17" beasts around. M6400 is like 3.8 kilos plus that beast of a charger is an extra kilo and more plus the bag and extra equipment. I have the small low heat low noise laptop which I usually carry together with this one for longer trips so it gets even heavier :) Reply
  • ahmed25 - Thursday, December 09, 2010 - link

    Could u pls do a review of the t510... Reply

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