Enterprise Class and the Death of Gloss

If there's one thing we can be thankful for when dealing with an enterprise class notebook, it's that not an ounce of glossy plastic can be found anywhere on the chassis. Workstations tend to be a bit more austere, though the HP EliteBook 8740w at least seems to add a little more style than most.

What you'll notice first is the brushed aluminum used on the lid and the inside of the body, framing the plastic keyboard. The screen bezel is thankfully matte black, with the webcam in its usual position above the screen and an ambient light sensor below. If there's one complaint I have, it's the use of a touch-based control/shortcut bar just above the keyboard. I've never been a fan of touch-control and don't understand why it's become so popular when tactile feedback just feels better.

As for the keyboard itself, the layout is comfortable and logical, but it's another case of a possibly inappropriate style creeping into an enterprise notebook. The raised key surfaces aren't uncomfortable, but these are the same keys that HP uses on consumer desktop keyboards, and they seem out of place here compared to the function-before-form keyboard layouts of competing Lenovo or Dell notebooks. There's even light flex in the center of the keyboard, although the backlighting is very welcome. In the grand scheme the keyboard is a minor complaint not likely to aggravate too many users, but it does seem out of place.

HP also includes both a trackpoint and touchpad, and both of these function well and are comfortable to use. I've heard people complain that HP's trackpoint is a distant second to Lenovo's, but the one in the 8740w doesn't seem appreciably better or worse than the one I've been using in my own ThinkPad. A particularly nice feature is the integration of a middle mouse button for both; it may not be the most attractive thing in the world, but it's useful and doesn't really detract at all.

From there the rest of the notebook seems to be built like a tank, just as one would hope. During a conference call with HP they were quick to point out that the notebook had been reliability tested to the 810G military standard, subjecting it to a three foot drop along with dust and humidity. I can believe it's that reliable. Screen flex is minimal, and apart from the keyboard the rest of the unit feels like it could be used as a murder weapon. The lid even has a mechanical latch to hold the notebook closed.

Overall, though, we can appreciate HP's willingness to try and inject style into a notebook market that tends to be staggeringly spartan. The gunmetal coloring is attractive without making the 8740w appear gaudy, and though the surfaces of the keys of the keyboard seem a little inappropriate, they're not deal-breakers. At least HP is trying.

Before we get into the performance metrics, it does bear mentioning that the 8740w brings a lot of workstation-class support to the table. HP's Power Assistant software offers fine-grained control over the system and can even estimate power consumption and savings depending on which power mode you're running. Also included is HP QuickWeb, the usual instant-on feature that lets you browse the internet without booting into Windows, but most interesting is HP Quicklook 3. Quicklook 3 is integrated into Outlook, and lets you access your mail and information in Outlook without ever booting into Windows. We can see this as being a fairly useful feature, although probably more useful in a notebook that doesn't weigh eight pounds.

Introducing the HP EliteBook 8740w Application and Workstation Performance
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  • darwinosx - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    Because the other all in ones suck.
  • Joos - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    Because a iMac is even more crap to drag around and has useless hardware for a workstation.
  • Joos - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    And a 15" chassis is to small to be able to handle the thermal output of all those high spec components.
  • Belard - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    Not really.... ThinkPad and others make 15" notebooks with top-end i7 mobile CPUs. The 17" models typically have room for a 2nd drive and a 2nd video card and because of the bigger screen, a much larger battery.

    So in general, no... the extra 2" are not helping to keep it cool.
  • erple2 - Friday, December 10, 2010 - link

    The CPU isn't the primary heat generator in a high end laptop. Even the top end mobile i7 940XM puts out about half the heat than the GeForce 480M (or Quadro 5000m).

    And the Thinkpad 15" doesn't have a great GPU. The Quadro 880m is "ok", but it's just a slightly tweaked Geforce 330M.

    Fast CPU in a laptop without the corresponding fast GPU = unbalanced laptop that, in general, disappoints. Then again, I'm looking for a laptop that is reasonably speedy in games.
  • Candide08 - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    I have 1920 x 1200 resolution on my main workstation and really appreciate it, that is the main reason I chose this laptop... that and the 8GB RAM and i7 860 processor.

    You ask a very good question about laptop screens - and why nobody really has decent resolution on a smaller laptop.

    The point with this is that I can take it places. I have a rolling laptop case for longer trips. This is not a netbook or a carry-into-Starbucks laptop, it is a desktop replacement, running two or three Virtual-machines that I can take to meetings or other locations in my company - and work, REALLY work.

    There are many classes of "laptops" these days, from ultra-light netbook to, well, THIS.
  • seanleeforever - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    they do have 15 inch dream color notebook, just FYI.

    anand finally get their hands on a non-apple premium notebook. something i have been using for years, and wanted to see a objective review badly. the IPS screen is very very good and certainly not anything TN can be compared to, that include RGB LED TN that apple, lenovo, dell uses in their high end. the chart doesn't really do all the justice. if you actually view the screen from an angle, you will very, and i do mean VERY appreciate the benefit of IPS technology. in a realistic situation, you, or people who you want to share view, are never in a ideal 0 degree angle from screen, and that's when the IPS matter the most.

    however, i disagree with the track pointer. they are far far away from ones you find in the thinkpad. as matter of fact, if you don't use track pointer at all, you won't see the difference. However, for people who rely on track pointer, it is a big deal. or example. say you are scroll up or down a page, or zoom in and out in firefox (with help of holding ctrl) , the easiest way to do on lenovo system is, hold the middle mouse button on the track point pad, and move the point up or down. super, super easy, and allows you to move pages left/right/up/down with millimeter movement on your finger. now, on HP unit. first of all, track pointer button require a lot of force to be pressed, i would say it probably requires 3~4X more force than thinkpad, second, the track pointer is level below keys,so you have to dig in to operator the pointer. and the worse part is the middle button cannot be configered. let me give you an example below.

    say you are on cnn.com reading news, and you want to scroll down. on a thinkpad, no matter where you cursor is, just hold middle button using your thumb, and move your figure on the pointer (similar to type "space" + "B"). on a HP, you can only do it OCCASIONALLY. meaning you have to move the cursor away from any hyper link before you can navigate. or else it will open a new tab, very very annoy. and there is no way to fix it either...

    and again, the touch screen audio bar, is there any one can operate it at all?
  • seapeople - Thursday, December 9, 2010 - link

    What is it with you people? I'm currently sitting on my couch with my 17" laptop on ... wait for this... wait for it... IT'S ON MY LAP! OMG! How dang small are you? Three feet tall? Do you ride around in hotwheels all day? Is Mini Me your physical superior? A 17" laptop is like 15-16 inches wide, most people are wider than that. Where do you like to put your laptop, on your nose? Hold it in the palm of your hand?

    You say even 15" laptops are a pain to carry around? Were you born on the moon? Are your bones brittle and weak? Stop being a wuss, maybe this is why heart disease is starting to rise in thin people even, because people are so weak and out of shape that they think carrying a 6-7 lb laptop is hard. I hope you enjoy sitting there squinting at your 10.3" 1000x600 laptop placed precariously on the armrest of your sofa just so you can feel unencumbered.
  • andy o - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    I got a little excited to see "32 nm" cause the first 32nm quad-cores should be Sandy Bridge!
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    You're right. Fixed it!

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