Friday, 5 August 2011

Review Of The HP EliteBook 8460W Laptop

Hello Again Everyone. Today I'd like to review one of HP's latest Business line of laptops, the Elitebook 8460W. Before I get in to the details about this product, some people may be wondering what the difference between the "P" and the "W" series of the EliteBook laptops are. The "P" series laptops in the Elitebook line are the "Professional" Series. These laptops have gone through rigorous testing for hardware, software, and environmental to be called a "Professional" series Elitebook and are designed for Business class users. The "W" series of laptops are the "Mobile Workstation" series. These go through the same testing of the Professional series, but are more suitable for applications like AutoCad as they use vendor certified hardware and drivers for complex applications. The build quality of the P and W series are identical with the W series being a little less flashy than the P series. Now, on to the review!

The 8460W is a 14", lightweight (4.9lbs) travel friendly laptop wrapped in an all metal Gun-Metal shaded body. When I say all metal, I mean the top cover, the palm rest, the sides, and the bottom plate. The only plastic on this laptop is the LCD Bezel! Kudos to HP for their fantastic build quality. For those of you who don't know, HP Elitebook laptops go through military grade testing for drop, dust, vibration, altitude, and high temperature to ensure their laptops can survive even the most harshest environments. The top cover has a brushed metal finish to it with an HP logo that lights up white (I don't think there's a way to turn that off). So far so good!

Left: You will find the A/C Adaptor plug, firewire, 2 SS USB Ports (Superspeed USB, or USB 3.0), CD/DVD-RW Drive, and PC Card Slot.

Right: There is a Kensington lock slot, vented slots for the CPU fan, Display Port output, 1 USB/USB Quick Charge combo Port, 1 ESATA/USB combo port, Microphone Jack, and Headphone Jack.

Palm Rest/Keyboard: Power button and 3 Hot keys. WiFi, Internet, and Mute. Thank You HP for getting rid of those ugly, awkward touch sensitive buttons!!! The keyboard is laid out like many new laptops, island/chiclet style. Though at first can be a bit hard to get used to. The trackpad is actually quite larger than previous generation EliteBooks as well. In addition you also get the fingerprint reader. But who uses that anyways :) 1 last thing.. HP...What's with the Orange pointer stick button? Seriously, who uses Orange these days? It sticks out like a sore thumb!

Front Side: Features a metal latch to unlock the screen, and 4 very tiny LED's. Power, WiFi, Battery, and HDD Activity. Come on HP, what's with the microscopic LED's!

Back: Modem, VGA out, and Network Jack.

Screen: As I mentioned earlier, this laptop features a 14" (1366x768) LED Backlit screen. As much as I can say positive about the build quality of this laptop, I can't about the screen. It just seems very dull and washed out, and the blacks are just not good enough. For normal day to day use it's fine, you would just expect a lot more out of this line of laptop. Above the screen is the HD Webcam (OK Picture quality, nothing fancy), and a button that pops out a night light for working in the dark. I've tested this light in a dark room, and all I have to say is the LCD panel gives off more light then this thing. More of a gimmick then a feature. Thanks for trying HP, but a Back-lit keyboard would have been much better! :) The last really cool feature of the screen, is that it can be pushed back a complete 180 degrees. Allowing you to easily work using a projector without having the screen in site.

Bottom: The bottom of the laptop is the usual docking station connector, with the addition of 1 new feature. For some strange reason, HP has decided to now incorporate a latch that will completely remove the bottom cover from the laptop, exposing all the components of the laptop without the need of any tools. I don't know about you, but I have a few end users I wouldn't want to be pulling parts out of the laptop. Not to mention a security issue this might pose if it's that easy for someone to quickly pull the hard drive out of some one's laptop without any tools. I don't know if I agree with you on this one HP.......

Anyways, enough of the pretty details. Lets get to some performance.

Hardware: The model I am reviewing is the XU078UT configuration. This laptop comes with the all new Intel Sandy Bridge i5-2540M vPRO processor, 4GB DDR3 1333Mhz Memory, 500GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, DVD/RW Dual Layer Drive, Intel Centrino ABGN Wireless, Bluetooth, and a 10/100/1000 Network Card powered by a 6 Cell 62-WHr Lithium Ion Battery. The built in speakers do provide a pretty rich audio experience for a laptop. Last but not least, the Graphics. This model configuration features the AMD FirePro M3900 Graphics card with 1GB DDR3 RAM.

Support: If you haven't owned an EliteBook before, one thing that might sell you on it is the support. EliteBooks generally have a higher level tech support by HP since it is a Business Class laptop. HP also provides a standard 3/3/0 warranty on this. Which means 3 years parts and labor only. You can upgrade it to the 3/3/3 next business day on-site if you wish. (HP's on-site service is VERY good, I've used them many times in the past)

Final Thoughts: I've been using this laptop for about 3 weeks now, and I absolutely love it. The hardware configuration, combined with Windows 7 has been nothing but smooth sailing. I'm not an "HP fan boy", but they've really put together a very quiet, rugged, durable, well performing laptop. Even after running for 8 hours, the laptop is cool to the touch, with none of those "hot spots" that used to plague HP laptops in the past. This is definitely a laptop I know will be able to survive the bumps and drops from my end users at the airports!

Great Job On This One HP!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

HP Slate 500 - Why You Should Or Shouldn't Buy It.

It seems like everywhere you go, you see people in malls, airports and even on public transportation happily tapping away on their new tablet devices. Many people know about the Apple iPad/iPad 2, Blackberry Playbook, and other various Google Android OS Based tablets, lets not forget about Windows 7 powered tablets. More and more vendors are now starting to introduce Windows 7 tablets for consumers who want portability without sacrificing access to their most important applications which may not be available on these new tablet operating systems. Today I will be reviewing one of these new Windows 7 Tablets, the HP Slate 500.

Lets start off with what you get. The HP Slate device itself is an Intel Atom based tablet featuring the z540 Processor clocked at 1.86Ghz, 512KB L2 Cache, & 533Mhz FSB. The Slate comes standard with 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM (Not upgradeable), and 64GB of Storage. The slate also features built in Wireless a/b/g/n functionality, however no 3G Data Support. On the front of the device, you have the integrated VGA Webcam for video conferencing, the crisp 8.9" WSVGA Screen and Active Capacitive Digitizer. The back plate of the device is a bit rigid, giving you better grip than what you would expect from devices like the iPad 2, with also an integrated 3MP camera that can be used for video conferencing, or taking photos/videos. Around the bezel we find buttons that allow you to control the volume (no mute button), a button to allow you to display and hide the on-screen keyboard, 1 USB 2.0 Port, a Control+Alt+Delte button, a Home Button which takes you to the Windows Desktop, the power/sleep switch, and a Headphone jack. Along the bottom of the bezel, you can find the port for the Optional docking station (included in some configurations).

The optional docking station will allow you to charge the slate, and also gives you 2 additional USB ports, HDMI out, and headphone jack. The angle of this device has been designed almost perfectly for using on a table.In the box you also receive a folio case (No built in stand), the power cable (not standard USB), and a handly little stylus that can be used for drawing and tapping on the touch screen.

The Slate goes in a sleep mode when you turn it off unless you do a complete shut down. Booting from a complete shutdown took roughly 35 seconds. Not too shabby compared to other devices. But keep in mind this is a fresh install with no installed applications. We all know what happens to Windows after a month. Pre-loaded on the Slate 500 is Windows 7 Professional 32-Bit. As much of a fan I am of Windows 7, it is not really the most ergonomic operating system for touch based tablets when compared to iOS and Adroid. Apart from that, there isn't really anything else that comes installed on this device. At this point, start going crazy and install your applications. You will need a USB CD/DVD Drive if you are planning on installing software from a CD/DVD. Since we are running Windows 7 here, don't forget to install a light weight Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware tool as well.

Our business applications on the Slate performed fairly well. Browsing the Internet was fast, however when zooming in and out on websites using the pinch gestures seemed a bit choppy compared to other tablets.

After reading all this, you're probably now wondering if I would reccomend this product. Well, after scratching my head a bit I would have to say maybe depending on your needs. The HP Slate is packed with a wealth of bells and whistles for a device this small, but it really is limited by what it's missing. For mobile business users who this device is actually targeted for, Windows 7 on an ultra portable tablet screams "Work On The Go From Anywhere". However, without 3G capability you're limited to use this in Wi-Fi areas, with a USB data device, or tether the tablet via bluetooth to your smartphone. Hopefully this issue will be addressed in the next generation of the device. For casual web surfers, Windows 7 just too akward to use on a tablet without using an external mouse or stylus. Not to mention there also is no slot on the device where you can keep the stylus handy, although there is a spot for the pen in the folio case. At the end of the day, this really is a niche market device. Android and iPad tablets are doing so well because they've captured the home users as well as a portion of the business market and have tailored the device around these users. If HP adds 3G Data capabilities, and possibly kick up the processor to a Dual Core CPU I can definately see this as the ultimate swiss army knife for mobile business users.

HP is offering a demo program for this product. I would encourage all Business IT Geeks to get in contact with your HP Rep and get your demo unit!