After spending some years improving the quality and design of its premium systems, HP is turning its attention to its mainstream, corporate laptops. The new range of 800-series EliteBooks, ZBook workstations, monitors, and docks brings many features of the premium 1000-series to a wider audience.
The EliteBook 800 G5 range—available in 13-inch, 14-inch, and 15-inch variants—is HP’s main corporate workhorse laptop. “Mainstream” here means that they’re not quite as thin as the 1000-series, while “corporate” means that they sport a bunch of things not found on consumer systems: for example, there’s a smartcard reader, gigabit Ethernet, and a docking station connector for HP’s slim, non-Thunderbolt 3 docking station. Their keyboards include buttons for answering and hanging up calls on Skype for Business, they’re available with Intel vPro management, and they use HP’s latest generation “Sure Start” firmware to protect against certain kinds of malware. Integrated 4G WWAN is an option, along with NFC, 802.11a/b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.2.
Further enhancing their usefulness on conference calls and Skype, mainstream devices include dual microphone arrays; one faces you, while another one faces the rest of the world for more effective noise cancellation.
But even as mainstream systems, HP is offering thin bezels, machined aluminium, and good looks. They’re not quite the slimmest and lightest laptops on the market, but they’re still slim (0.7 inches) and light, starting at 3, 3.3, and 4 lbs for 13-, 14-, and 15-inch screens, respectively. Add another 0.4lbs for touch. They all have Thunderbolt 3, in addition to legacy USB.
The new EliteBooks include Windows Hello authentication with fingerprint and, optionally, infrared facial recognition. All the systems are available with either 7th generation (two core/four thread) or 8th generation (four core/eight thread) Kaby Lake processors, up to 32GB RAM, and up to 1TB PCIe SSD storage. The 14-inch 840 and 15-inch 850 both offer optional AMD Radeon RX 540 graphics with 4GB dedicated GDDR5 memory; these sizes also have the option of a 3840×2160 screen, as an alternative to the 1920×1080 available in all three sizes.
“Corporate” also means that these systems are designed to be serviceable. Their keyboards are all spill-proof: they have a tray beneath the keys to catch any spillages, along with drainage channels to hopefully direct any liquids away from the parts of a computer that don’t like liquids. They can be disassembled in the field, and all their major components can be replaced by IT staff armed with little more than a screwdriver.
The systems are also all available with HP’s second-generation Sure View privacy screen. First-generation Sure View used TN screens (that’s the kind with awful viewing angles) and a special coating to make the screen appear near-black when viewed from the side. These newer laptops all offer the second-generation Sure View: this uses IPS screens (that’s the kind with good viewing angles), and instead of going dark when viewed off-angle, they look bright white.
When Sure View mode is engaged, the screens emit extra light. There is some impact on battery life, but the extra ease of mind they can provide when using a laptop on a plane, train, or other public place makes the trade-off worthwhile.
The EliteBook 830, 840, and 850 G5 will all become available some time this month, with starting prices of $1,049, $1,029, and $1,039, respectively (you read that right: the smallest one is the most expensive).
HP also has a couple of mobile workstations, the ZBook 14u G5 (14 inch) and ZBook 15u G5 (15 inch). Overall, these offer similar specs and screen options to the EliteBook 800s, but they can include up to 2TB of SSD storage, and they use a Radeon Pro WX 3100 GPU with 2GB dedicated GDDR5 for their discrete graphics. There’s also an integrated SD card reader.
They’ll also be available this month, starting at $1,099 for the 14u and $1,109 for the 15u.
All five laptops are compatible with HP’s new Thunderbolt Dock G2. This small, cube-ish block connects to computers using either Thunderbolt 3 or USB Type-C, and it adds a pair of USB Type-A ports, two DisplayPort, er, ports, gigabit Ethernet, a headset jack, a USB Type-C port, and a downstream Thunderbolt 3 port. With Thunderbolt 3, it can drive a pair of 4K monitors.
The Dock also borrows a concept from the Elite Slice PC. The top of the dock can be unclipped and replaced with an audio module. This module includes a few buttons for answering or hanging up calls, muting, and adjusting the volume. It also includes a speaker and a microphone. With this, the Dock isn’t just a dock: it’s also a conference phone.
The Dock currently has no price and is expected to go on sale in May.
But wait, there’s more: HP has a range of three new 4K monitors, the Z27, Z32, and Z43, with diagonals of 27, 32, and 43 inches. They all support a range of DisplayPort, HDMI, and USB Type-C inputs, offering up to 65W of power delivery over Type-C for charging. All are 10-bit-per-pixel panels. They’re available now, for $559, $899, and $799, respectively.