Among the Best Looking Windows Notebooks Ever Built

Schizophrenic styling, begone! Glossy plastic, away with ye! Glossy screen, be no more! While business-class notebooks have traditionally been more staid and in many ways more attractive than their consumer-oriented cousins, HP's last generation had some real issues with conflicting aesthetics. We reviewed the 8740w and found it to be a bit uneven in terms of styling. There were touch-based media controls and a three-toned interior that felt as disconnected as it looked. But HP's designers returned to the drawing board and what they came back with is arguably the most attractive line of Windows notebooks I've ever seen.

First, they're down to a simple two-tone scheme and it's all black matte plastic and silver brushed aluminum. The EliteBook 8460p looks and feels incredibly sturdy, with the ports being laser-cut out of a band of aluminum that surrounds the notebook. The lid is aluminum, and the screen bezel is a black matte plastic that's designed specifically to cushion the screen while keeping it from ever making contact with the keyboard and accidentally scuffing it.

The inside surface has been completely redone. The entire area surrounding the keyboard is a single piece of aluminum, with the strip of touch-sensitive controls jettisoned in favor of just a power button and three dedicated, physical buttons backlit with white LEDs: a wireless toggle, a QuickWeb shortcut, and a mute button. Everything else is handled through Fn+function key shortcuts now. The interior of the notebook honestly looks every bit as fantastic as every other part of it.

If there's going to be a source of contention with the EliteBook's build, it's liable to be the chiclet-style keyboard. This is essentially the same keyboard as found in all of HP's modern consumer notebooks, and other than the double-high left and right arrow keys it's a good design if you don't mind these types of keys. The layout is intelligent, with a column of document navigation keys to the right of the standard keyboard, exactly where they should be, and at the center of the G, B, and H keys is the familiar trackpoint nub. In practice it doesn't feel as good as the nub on my ThinkPad; the ThinkPad's trackpoint is convex while the EliteBook's is concave, and it makes a difference. That said, it's not quite as horrible as I've heard HP notebook trackpoints can be.

The touchpad is also incredibly easy to use. It's not a clickpad as has become vogue (and is hopefully going out of style on PC notebooks), and HP uses a treated glass surface that's incredibly smooth without getting sticky or slippery due to moisture on your fingertips. This has to be among the most comfortable touchpads I've ever used. The dedicated mouse buttons below it have slightly rubbery surfaces with no audible click, but just the right amount of resistance.

When you move to the bottom of the notebook, you'll see two switches, both of which can be locked into place. The first is the ejection switch for the battery, while the second is for one of my favorite features. It's a quick-release for the entire bottom panel of the notebook, allowing easy access to all of the internals. No screws required, but the bottom panel remains very secure. HP has opted to put all the compliance and licensing labels on the inside of the notebook, beneath this panel, thus keeping the whole unit looking incredibly smooth and classy.

If I have one major complaint, it's the placement of the exhaust vent. Virtually everything else is where it should be, but the notebook exhausts to the right, directly on to the user's dominant hand (assuming the user isn't a southpaw). I actually did have some issues with this while I was testing the notebook; it wasn't ever horrible, but the exhaust vent really should've been either at the rear of the notebook or the rear left side. I don't have anything against the diabolical people who are left-hand dominant (nearly all of my best friends, oddly enough, are left-handed), but the majority of people are righties and they're going to get a little toasty using the 8460p under load with an external mouse.

Introducing the HP EliteBook 8460p Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • Robberbaron12 - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    I own a 8440p with the 1600x900 screen. It was the only decent notebook on the market with a high res. screen smaller than 15 in. It is very bright and clear, but the contrast and viewing angles are only fair, not great. Having said that they are so much better than the screen reviewed here. Reply
  • MonkeySnax - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    In regards to the default screen have you disabled the ambient light sensor? I don't personally own the laptop but I'm in the market and have been looking at the HP 8460 (along with the Sony Vaio SB) for a few weeks now. I did read somewhere that a user turned off the sensor which improved screen brightness. Might be worth a try, also found some pictures of the 1600 x 900 screen, owner seems to like it:

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/hp-business-class-...
    Reply
  • Pessimism - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    plastic internal chassis != elite Reply
  • dan0512 - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    As long as they don't make the Elitebooks with 16:10 screens again. Reply
  • ebolamonkey3 - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    When will Anandtech do a review on the Thinkpad x220?? Reply
  • ahmed25 - Friday, May 13, 2011 - link

    Hi...Any chance of a review ofr the sandy bridge envy 17 3d from you?It seems like a wonderful all in one multimedia lappy Reply
  • CutControl - Friday, May 13, 2011 - link

    With all the sandy bridge going around I think it's time for another buyer guide! =) Reply
  • Belard - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    Considering the ThinkPad X100 is a pretty low-end ThinkPad... and the screen shots makes the Elite notebook appear to be pretty much useless! Worse than my OLD ThinkPad R61 (almost 4 years old).

    The ThinkPad T420 can be had with a 1600x900 and similar config for around $1100. The screens are still matte, but are bright and look pretty good (not as much as glossy - for obvious reasons). To get it up to $2000 is top end with a T420... maybe the 1" think T420s.
    (A full load out with SSD 160GB, i7-2620, 8GB, WifiMax, GPS & WAN is $2100)

    Both Dell and HP copy ThinkPad with the tracking-stick as well as two sets of mouse buttons.

    So for $1100, might as well get a ThinkPad with the roll-cage (Its not plastic under the case), spill protection for the keyboard and easily a FAR FAR better keyboard than the crap they put on that "professional HP" notebook.

    Here is the standard ThinkPad keyboard (not on the lower end Edge or L series): http://www.studentbuyingguide.com/wp-content/uploa...
    The extra large DELETE key is handy. With only thing that degrades the keyboard is the fn & CTRL keys are still OLD-Style backwards. :( At least it can be switched in BIOS.

    The T420s is a thinner version of the T420, looks even slicker - but I don't think its worth the extra $300 and loss of a USB port and drive options. http://www.lenovo.com/shop/americas/content/img_li...

    For the most part the body of the HP Elite does look very nice... a cross between an MacBook Pro and thinkpad with s goldish color.
    Reply
  • wigglz - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - link

    I just got a 8440p and love it. Upgraded to 4gb of ram, seems stable enough to run a few vms.. I just need to get xoskins to make me a <a href="http://xoskins.com">screen protector</a> for it and ill be set. I tried a privacy one, but it drives my eyes crazy Reply

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