HP's Business Notebook Hat Trickby Dustin Sklavos on February 23, 2011 1:00 PM EST
Conclusion: Back, in Style
If this preview seems like a bit of a puff piece, I apologize. Having had the chance to sit down and actually see and play with these notebooks in person was a treat, if for no other reason than seeing what might hopefully become a minor sea change in enterprise hardware.
Simply put, HP's new EliteBook and ProBook machines are the kinds of smart, appealing designs that consumers even outside of the business world may want, and HP seems to have achieved to an extent the kind of crossover success in styling that Apple's MacBook Pro enjoys. They're so nice, in fact, that they make me wonder why anyone would bother with HP's warmed over consumer models—that is until I realize that for many users, the price tag is the bottom line. To each their own, but it looks like you'll get what you pay for if you spend up on one of these.
It would be remiss not to mention that all of these notebooks come equipped with USB 3.0 and Sandy Bridge processors, and the EliteBook and ProBook b-series also support integrated WAN. When HP first told me they had chosen to go with AMD Radeons for the line, I was confused: at this juncture, NVIDIA's 500M series with Optimus technology seemed like a clear win and a no-brainer. But AMD seems to have an ace up their sleeve with Power Express switchable graphics, a feature you can actually find on notebooks on retail shelves right now. It's perplexing as to why AMD isn't promoting this more since it puts them back on parity with NVIDIA in the mobile sector, but we'll have to get a Power Express-equipped notebook in house before we can say more.
HP is expecting to have their new lines available on March 15 and we've been told to expect to have review hardware in hand. Hopefully it won't be long until we can give one of these notebooks a more thorough investigation.