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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  • darwinosx - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Because the other all in ones suck. Reply
  • Joos - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    Because a iMac is even more crap to drag around and has useless hardware for a workstation. Reply
  • Joos - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    And a 15" chassis is to small to be able to handle the thermal output of all those high spec components. Reply
  • Belard - Thursday, December 09, 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 08, 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 08, 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 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 09, 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 08, 2010 - link

    I got a little excited to see "32 nm" cause the first 32nm quad-cores should be Sandy Bridge! Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    You're right. Fixed it! Reply

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