HP's Cruelest Cut: DreamColor in 1080p

I'm not usually one to complain about the difference between 1080p and 1200p in a notebook screen, but the shift to a 16:9 aspect from the HP EliteBook 8740w to the 8760w just rubs me the wrong way. It's true that 1920x1200 screens are going the way of the dodo (which is why I'll run my three into the ground), but I don't know who else is even using HP's DreamColor IPS panel to begin with.

Desktop users have already had to make the uneasy compromise of having 27-inch IPS monitors with a higher resolution than their predecessors (2560x1440) in exchange for losing 30-inch monitors almost entirely, but you can at least argue there's some kind of win there since previous generation 27-inchers were 1920x1200 affairs. But in the case of the HP EliteBook 8760w, this is strictly a loss and it sours what's otherwise an absolutely stellar screen.

At least we can take comfort in knowing the 1080p DreamColor IPS display is a slight upgrade to its predecessor. Once again, the screen's Delta E doesn't peak and valley anywhere near as much as many cheaper TN panels do, and the color gamut offered is frankly outstanding. Contrast is also excellent, though the 8760w's panel does suffer from ever so slightly higher black levels than its predecessor.

As befitting an IPS panel, viewing angles on the 8760w are fantastic. Honestly, the screen really needs to be seen in person to be believed. Colors pop beautifully (and may actually feel oversaturated thanks to the high color gamut), and at least our gaming tests never looked more vibrant and alive...except on the 8740w. That's why it stings so much to have lost the 120 pixels of vertical real estate; DreamColor is a costly $650 upgrade ($100 more than last generation!) as it is.

Battery, Noise, and Heat Conclusion: But You'll Pay for the Privilege
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  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    In the future could you actually make a point of informing users about the fan (A bit more info)? Does it stay on all the time? Does it switch off as this is one of the more important aspects.

    For instance I've had a chance to use the following new models: (Fitted SSD, clean install, tweaked)

    HP 5330m - core i3, fan off most of the time
    HP 6460b - core i5, fan always on and annoying
    HP 8460p - core i5, fan always on and annoying
    Dell Vostro v131, celeron, fan ALWAYS off!

    Also here are the extended battery options that you missed off:
    HP VH08XL
    HP ST09 - Extended life battery (Fits under the laptop)
    HP BB09 - Ultra extended life battery (Massive slice, fits under the laptop)

    The BB09 along with the standard battery on a 6460b will play full screen media non-stop for 14+ hours (Wireless off, lowest brightness, audio via headphones).

    Thanks
    Reply
  • nirolf - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    +1, more info on the noise would be nice. Reply
  • B3an - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Same. More fan info please. Reply
  • wawawiwa - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    In my experience, the fan starts spinning on high usage like rendering or hd editing. It spins sometimes in photoshop but for short periods while in illustrator it stays off all the time (cs5.5). It also spins up but on lower rpm when i'm using both external and laptop display and it stays on all the time. If I'm using "projector" only or the laptop display only, it stays off.

    Standard temperature (CPU) is around 45°C, the maximum I got it to go is up to 80°C but still the keyboard and the part around the power button never gets hot, just warm.

    It is a beast.
    Reply
  • heymrdj - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    These are high end workstation systems. Like any user, one must make a tradeoff between power and cooling. You can't run dual 6990's without fan noise, be it a watercooling radiator setup or fans, you *have* to pay the price for power in fan noise and/or size. The only way to get fan noise lowered is to thicken the fan and thicken the unit itself. Using workstation systems myself fan noise is a non issue, I know it will be loud according to the chips I outfit it with. A high end I7 and an always on quadro GPU is going to be producing a good deal of heat even idling, no way around it, just as my 5.4L V8 in my Expedition costs more to idle in fuel and heat than the 2.3L I4 in my fiance's Ranger. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I'm aware of this. The entire new Elitebook and Probook range are thicker than nearly any laptop I've used in the last 5 years YET the fan is always on even after updating the bios which enabled the 'fan' option. That said same option no longer even does what we think it does.

    I'd expect the 8760w to have fans the size of a small room :) but it would be nice to know if it EVER switches off
    Reply
  • Barfo - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    yes Reply
  • velis - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I too bought an 8740w just for the x1200 dreamcolor. Had it been 1080p I wouldn't have bothered. I sure hope this notebook lasts me until monitors finally start picking up resolution. This convergence to 1080p and nothing higher gives me the creeps. Thanks for pointing out that fact in this review.
    Oh what I wouldn't give for a nice 24" 2560x1600 standalone - which would be the exact monitor obtained from this same dreamcolor 17" glass (the 1200p one of course)...
    I saw that HP offers a dreamcolor standalone, but its resolution is a useless 1920 and the price is stupenduously prohibitive. Why can the upgrade on a notebook cost $500 ($600 now), but a standalone costs >$2500???
    Reply
  • Rick83 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Well, mostly because the upgrade also includes the price of the base display (probably around 150-200$) and because you get much better back-lighting for desktop screens.
    Additionally, size does matter, there's a bunch more material costs, more/better control circuits, a power supply, a foot, and finally dream color is just a brand - so the panel is probably utterly dissimilar from that used in the desktop.

    Also, the desktop screen market is a much more competitive market, as you can plug any screen into any computer - with the laptop you're limited to the options your producer gives you.
    If you compare the dream color offering to NEC and eizo offerings, you will see that it is priced for a certain market.

    It would be interesting to see direct performance comparisons between high end IPS laptop panels and mid-end PVA/IPS desktop screens, to see just how good/bad these high-end laptop screens are, and whether they're worth the extra 600$, if you mostly use the machine at a desk, or if the same money buys a vastly superior dedicated screen.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I have to be honest, I think the screen quality (at least subjectively) is at LEAST on par with my desktop HP ZR24w and LP2465, if not outright better. Reply

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