Not to be outshone by Lenovo’s recently announced W700 uber laptop, HP has launched a new Elitebook business notebook line, anchored by another 17” stunner, the 8730w mobile workstation. This seven and a half pound powerhouse, like the W700, is packed with the new Intel Quad-core mobile CPU and next-gen Nvidia Quadro FX 3700 GPU (with 1GB of video memory). And even though it doesn’t have a built-in Wacom tablet or color calibrator, it differentiates itself from the Lenovo with an incredible DreamColor display. The Elitebook line also sports several new innovations that cater to the business crowd. We might not be the target user base, but with so much technology crammed into the device, we couldn’t resist checking it out.
The first thing we noticed was the sleek metal exterior styling, which is actually a combination of brushed anodized aluminum and magnesium alloy. The shiny chassis looks more like something we’d expect to see in a consumer notebook; it’s a pleasant departure from the matte black plastic feel of other business machines. The chassis is supposedly also rugged enough (meeting military standards) to protect the laptop from short falls – a feature we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to test. HP also pointed out that extra care has been placed on the design of the keyboard – the keys are now coated with HP’s Durakey finish, a spill-resistant clear coat layer that protects keys from wear and tear for three years.
DreamColor display technology, which HP developed in conjunction with DreamWorks studios, also makes its way into the 8730w (as a $400 option). We watched the several blu-ray movie clips play at full 1080p resolution on the vibrant LED backlit screen – it somehow even made the Fantastic Four movie look good. You’ll have the option of using an ATI FireGL or upgrading to an Nvidia Quadro FX GPU, which is the only way to get 1Gb of video memory. Video outputs include VGA and HDMI.
Another cool feature we got to try out was the bundled business card reader software. You attach a standard rectangular business card to the front of the notebook (right below the touchpad), and slowly close the lid. The 2.0 megapixel camera will look for the card, and chime when it spots text. OCR software reads the information on the card and automatically creates a new Outlook contact with the appropriate entry data.
Other options include up to 8GB of DDR2 memory, dual 320GB hard drives running RAID 0 or 1, and Blu-ray drive (the optical drive bay can be replaced by a third SATA hard drive). All the 8730w’s will come with built-in wireless support (802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth), gigabit Ethernet, 56K modem, ExpressCard slot, media card reader, biometric scanner, and 4 USB ports.
Pricing begins at $1700, though that figure jumps up quickly once you start upgrading specs and adding options. A fully decked out machine will definitely be in the four to five thousand-dollar range. Look for a full review when we get a chance to do more thorough benchmark testing on the 8730w.