If Only Your HP Pavilion Looked This Good

Honestly, the more I play with enterprise hardware the more I wonder why we have to keep putting up with unattractive, kitschy designs in the consumer field, and the HP EliteBook 8760w really hammers it home. The 8760w isn't just a massive improvement on its predecessor (whose three-tone design wound up being a mess of clashing styles), it's a massive improvement on notebooks in general. Understanding the materials used in the construction of something like the 8760w are much more costly than the cheap plastic used for bargain basement notebooks, it's still tough to argue that it doesn't look better than the lion's share of Windows-based notebooks available.

If you read our review of the HP EliteBook 8460p or any of our continuing coverage of the 2011 HP refresh, nothing in the design of the 8760w is going to seem new to you. As a 17" notebook, it's sizable without being needlessly bulky; many of the gaming notebooks we've tested are both heavier and broader.

The gunmetal gray finish with silver accents is a constant throughout the entire design except for the bottom, though the lid enjoys a spiral brushed aluminum pattern and an HP logo that glows when the system is on. When you open it, you'll find a matte screen (much more on this later) with a clean black matte trim and fairly minimal flex owing to the reinforced frame.

Inside surfaces are largely the same gunmetal gray, of slightly varying shades, with the touch-based shortcut bar on the 8740w completely removed in place of four physical silver buttons: a wireless toggle, a mute button, HP's QuickWeb shortcut, and a calculator shortcut. Each of the buttons are lit with white LEDs, and the keyboard itself is backlit white with white LED toggles on the Caps Lock and Num Lock keys. Flex on the keyboard is minimal, and the touchpad surface is a joy to use, but undoubtedly some users will be bothered by the switch to the chiclet keyboard that's become the de facto standard across all of HP's notebooks, consumer or business. Personally I'm fine with it, but the arrow keys remain a sore spot for me: while the double-sized left and right keys aesthetically fill out the design, from a practical sense they feel strange compared to a garden variety directional key set.

Everything else about the feel of the 8760w is absolutely stellar, though. The keyboard is easy and pleasant to use, the touchpad has exactly the right amount of traction, and the three mouse buttons (take that, Apple!) have just the right amount of travel and resistance while making virtually no noise.

When you flip the 8760w over, you find the same fantastic single service panel that HP has deployed across their entire business line, making the notebook incredibly easy to service or upgrade. Honestly this is a development I wouldn't mind seeing carried over to consumer notebooks, although the difference there is that while a business notebook is designed to be serviced by an IT department, I can just see some hapless end user mangling their shiny new $500 laptop by popping off the bottom and messing with the insides. Maybe it's for the best that this stays in the market it's in.

As a whole, the HP EliteBook 8760w's design is much more minimalist and functional than its predecessor, owing at least lip service to the Jonathan Ive school of form and function intertwined. HP's mentality with their 2011 business notebooks is that "business" doesn't have to mean "stodgy," and they've hit a near perfect compromise with their new EliteBooks.

Introducing the HP EliteBook 8760w Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • Impulses - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    HP should showcase it at retail to show people what they're missing... You can't even buy desktop IPS screens at a brick & mortar store anymore, it's sad. I'm about to but three 1920x1200 displays (ZR24W or possibly the new Dell if I can get a discount) and I'm already dreading the day one of them dies, because I know I'll have even less options by then.
  • Roland00Address - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Ever since LG has made E-IPS screens you been seeing a steady decrease in prices for ips screens. This has accelerated now that LED monitors are the norm.

    Yes you can get IPS at B&M, and you can get them for $150 to $300 dollars. Currently microcenter has lg ips 226v for $159, bestbuy has lg ips 236v for $199, frys has lg ips 231p for $199. LG also designs the panels that other manufactures then use, Asus, Dell, HP, and Viewsonic all have ips monitors, and some of the monitors are in various B&M.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    The problem is that these eIPS screens are 6-bit color and not 8-bit. I think they're still a major improvement on TN and would love to see the market shift over to them, but they're not as good as full-on IPS panels (although I still very much prefer *VA panels for their deeper, inkier blacks.)
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    While they're better than TN, I dislike *VA for blackcrush. That's when the lowest 5-10% of the brightness all appear equally dark from head on, but pop up when looking from an angle. Hubble galaxy pictures tend to demonstrate this effect well since the edges of the galaxy generally fade down to the background black in a relatively smooth fashion.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Honestly I found my ZR24w (IPS) to crush blacks far worse than my LP2465 (*VA). A decently calibrated VA panel can produce fine detail in the darks, but the shimmer on an IPS panel's black drives me insane.
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Odd. My NEC 2090's and 3090 are blackcrush free. I have an HP panel I never tested for it, will take a look when I get home. I've never noticed anything that could be called shimmer on my screens; but I've never looked either...
  • velis - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Yep, agree with Dustin. This monitor is WAY better than my U2711, not to mention that it consumes A LOT less power. The U2711 heats like it was intended to (do only that) while this monitor stays perfectly cool. Plus backlight uniformity issues and bad out-of-factory colors - had to calibrate to get anything resembling good colors out of it.

    $500 + $200 = $700 * resdiff (1,78) = $1250, not $2500 (for the same res)
    I see no reason why the panel should be different except to keep the DPI lower on desktop, but I said I dream of a desktop variant of this same monitor == same panel.
    Much more competitive market == much lower prices. Limited to mfg options = higher prices.
    Agree about targeted pricing for a market, but I don't agree with the premium HP charges to this market.

    As far as I'm concerned, I super love this display and would gladly see it duplicated for my desktop. I hated the U2711 for its heating before, now I just do most of my work on this one... But I do agree a comparison would be in order. Mostly a $200 1080p desktop IPS will more than adequately serve as the primary screen for a crappy 1080p laptop. The dreamcolor is definitely expensive, but IMO it's worth it at this price point. Not so much at $2500 :P
  • velis - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Forgot to mention:
    You really have to see this monitor with your own eyes to see how good it really is. The colors are just so ... smooth ... I'm not sure it can even be described. Like the display was soothing your eyes as you look at it.
    Not to mention it's uniformity which compared to other LCDs is just about what LCD geometry is to CRTs.
  • wsaenotsock - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Well, looks like the workstation & enterprise products are finally succumbing to the market forces behind 16:9 panels. Oh, and simultaneously charging more for the IPS upgrade as well. Margins must be really tight.
  • alpha10 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I would like to see the 2 full HD screens compared for the 8760w.

    I did a comparison with the 8560w, and wasn't impressed by the Dreamcolor, the "grain" or "sparkle" was too much for me, the regular screen looked a lot cleaner and nicer. Obviously the Dreamcolor has much better viewing angles, but who cares about this when working and looking at the screen at an optimal position? I also found the over-saturated colors to be too much. For a web designer all the colors were too strong, I had to set the color profile down to sRGB to get correct colors.

    I ended up buying the 8760w with the regular screen, after a calibration using Spyder 3 Elite, the colors are perfect, gone is the blue tint that most TN panels have.

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