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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  • aranyagag - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    yeah I was planning to get a 17" DTR with sandybridge-- all was fine and dandy till I Got to the specifications for the screen. Sorry, but I want a 1200p screen. even when I watch videos-- which is rare because I prefer to watch on home theater and use my laptop for work-- I PREFER to have space above/below the screen for the menu bar.
    Well, I am waiting for the 1200p screens to return and if they don't -- I will eventually settle for a 15.6" 1080p screen. I just am not buying a 17" or larger laptop with only 1080p screen.
  • oshogg - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    17" is a little too big for my taste - I would appreciate a similar in-depth review (great job on this one by the way!) for HP 8560w. Specifically, I am interested in knowing that Quadro 1000M is any less taxing on battery than the one in 8760w.

  • teng029 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    certainly a much better design than Dell's current Latitude line. i've tried carrying a 17.3 inch notebook before and didn't particularly care for it. and like so many other posters have mentioned, i still prefer 16x10 panels.
  • Spazweasel - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    As always, computers of this class are something your employer buys you. Individuals are not likely to pay for items like this, but organizations whose cost-accounting recognizes that the hardware is a small fraction of the cost of maintaining an employee are not going to be put off by a thousand dollar premium. Compared to the software packages that enterprises use, the amortized cost of support and infrastructure, and the salaries of the people that use them, six thousand in hardware is chump change.

    Buy this one with someone else's money, not your own, and you (and they) get the value expected for something this expensive.
  • jecs - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Thank you, That was what I had in mind for years, but still something I wanted to check over time. I worked for BP years ago and sure they provided fancy hardware and software even for contractors. I remember a Silicon Graphics computer on a corner and it was only used for an advanced student on one study. Today this HP laptop is way too superior but computing requirements may also increase with time.
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I really don't see how the desktop space has somehow "lost" 30" monitors almost entirely. From my experience over the past years, the 30" crowd has been very stable. The 27" high-res didn't destroy anything and gave people a cheap middle ground between cheap 24" 1200p and overpriced 1600p 30" monitors. I think 27" 2560x1440 has been about the only positive development in the desktop monitor market for a long time, partially making up for the move to 1080p in the 21"-27" market.

    I personally hope the tablet/smartphone display development with high densities will transfer to the desktop market soon.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    From a conversation with my associate, Brian Klug (who handles our monitor reviews), 30" screens are being phased out of production entirely.
  • zaccun - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    Thank god I've already got one then- That almost makes me want to save up and buy a couple more to hoard :<
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Gah!!! Like zaccun I'm tempted to go after a spare. If the replacement was 2844x1600 I could probably live with the aspect ratio reduction, but for anything resembling work vertical size is more important than width.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Ah, haven't heard anything like that on my regular computer news sites. And I haven't noticed any increase in prices with 30" screens. But I'll keep an eye out for that now. :-)

    Still, even with them being phased out, I will not pay 1000-1100€ for a 30" 2560x1600 screen when I get a 27" 2560x1440 for 600-650€. The added value for me just isn't there.

    Unless I will have a lot of spare money soon I'll try and wait until the pixel density goes to tablet/smartphone levels or at least gets closer to them. :-)

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