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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  • Death666Angel - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    You guys really need an edit button ;) at least for a few minutes. I forgot to say thanks for the reply!
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Got a question for Brian, why are the manufacturers phasing them out less than a year after launching new models? I'd assumed that the 2011 models would be around for at least a few years like their 07/08 ancestors were.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    I think it's mostly that the manufacturers aren't going to be making any new versions of their 30" panels. Heck, HP has been selling the LP3065 for a very long time, and while it's a great 30" panel, the lack of any improvements over a 4 year span is pretty shocking. Now, they're figuring they can make a 27" LCD and sell it for nearly the same price, and get more of them per glass substrate.
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    <<Now, they're figuring they can make a 27" LCD and sell it for nearly the same price, and get more of them per glass substrate. >>
    I really don't see that idea taking off.
    Sure, with professional monitors the class of Eizo and NEC which are used in business environments, it can work as price is only a small fraction of the consideration (although especially business environments with the need for big software will likely still want the 16:10 aspect ratio).
    But I doubt anyone in their right mind will take to the idea of paying the same price for 27" monitors that you used to pay for 30" monitors. With the switch from 16:10 to 16:9 in the 21"-27" scene, at least you also got decreased prices across the board.
  • DanNeely - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    HP has replaced the LP3065 with the ZR30w earlier this year. With the 30" model being a top end item aimed primarily at business customers; not the consumer market several years between new revisions doesn't strike me as a major problem.

    Truth be told, I wasn't expecting new models for a few years and suspect the impetus will either be LED backlights finally surpassing the best CCFL backlights in color accuracy and stability, or when the hardware driving the panels becomes capable of running at 120hz for 3d support. LED backlighting is what I'm hoping to hold out for before replacing my 3090. My desktop is more of a space heater, but I'd still like to be able to drop ~50-75W from my main screen.
  • KPOM - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    While these desktop-replacement EliteBook monsters are nice for their raw power, I think they are a bit off the mark for the average enterprise buyer. A large company looking to outfit a workforce of consultants or traveling salespeople with notebooks might keep their employees happier with smaller and lighter notebooks.

    Will HP be producing any ultrabooks under the EliteBook brand? I don't need a quad-core i7 to run Outlook, PowerPoint, or Excel, but a .8" thick, 3 lb notebook with a nice 1440x900 screen would be just perfect.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    A lot of people don't realize the value of a desktop-replacement monster like this one. I used to decry 17" notebooks just like most of you do, but ever since I graduated college I've found that a 17" notebook can actually be practically ideal for travelling. When I was at CES I set my Studio 17 up in the hotel room to get serious work done, and then brought my ThinkPad X100e with me in the field.

    There are circumstances where an 8760w would be ideal; as a business machine, the user could easily carry his or her work to and from home. Most of their travel time would likely be commuting to and from work on a daily basis, and that makes the notebook's weight largely irrelevant.
  • Belard - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Not even Apple makes a .8" thick notebook. Keep in mind, super-thin notebooks are:
    (A) not usually the fastest options
    (B) Very very few ports
    (C) More breakable
    (D) Less screen options.

    The ThinkPad X1 is 1" thick, 3.7 lbs, 13" screen @ 1366x768, gorilla glass, lighte-up keyboard. Can come with Core i5 or i7 CPU, 4 or 8 GB RAM, HD or SSD, Optional broadband card. Issues: noisy fan and the keyboard gets warm, short battery time. Starts at $1300 (NO DVD-RW Drive)

    The ThinkPad X220 is also 1" thick (Looks thicker than the X1), 3.0lbs, 12.5" screen @ 1366x768. Has a normal keyboard, almost silent, i5 or i7 CPUs. No glare screen. Starts at $900. (NO DVD-RW Drive)

    ThinkPad T420s is the closest spec. 1" thick, 14" screen at 1600x900 (Remember, 16:10 is dead - those bastards!), i5 CPU, 4~8GB RAM. But its 3.9lbs.
    Starts at $1,150.

    I personally prefer the T420 (non S) because its $250 cheaper, but its thicker and heavier.

    Whenever I order ThinkPads for my clients or friends, I usually get them in 10 days or less. Not 2-3 months.
  • KPOM - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    I'm typing this response on my .68" thick Apple notebook, complete with a Core i7 processor. No, it isn't as fast as the 8760, but it's quick enough for about 90% of traveling professionals. I raised the question since the EliteBook line is well-made and specifically targeted at enterprises. Thus, if there will be an EliteBook Ultrabook, it will likely be something that large companies notice.
  • Belard - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link

    Okay... I am in COMPLETE agreement Dustin Sklavos about the computer industry's stupid desire for 16:9. Yes, its fine for HD-Movies, etc. but for computer usage, I want my 120 pixeld back!

    During the transition to 16:9 with Lenovo. Here is how BAD 16:9 is... I buy/order ThinkPad for friends and clients. I compared a new ThinkPad T14 with a 16:10 vs a ThinkPad with a 15" 16:9. Both had the same vertical resolution. Both monitors were the exact same height.

    When working with small screens... it just makes the screen feel smaller, more cramped! (*@&$#$@ Drop the 1080 for bloody business computers! I'll be keeping my OLD 24" 1920x1600 monitor for as long as possible! I'm GLAD to see 27" monitors hitting the market with 2550x1440... but I'd really WANT to see a 27~28" with 2560x1600 instead. Such monitors are already OUT OF HD-SPEC anyway... so why stick with STUPID 16:9....? Oh yeah, it costs LESS to make a 16:9 vs 16:10... as as wide screens are cheaper than 4:3 monitors (Which are still nice). But at 30" and $1200 - these have to sit WAY back and suck up way too much desk space. We're still looking at $1000 for such a 27". *sigh*

    - - - - - - - - - - - -

    $6500 for this notebook? Okay, its more workstation than business notebook - right? With LOUD fans and chicklet keyboard, it should be far cheaper. That standard HP keyboard is HORRIBLE, tiny UP/Down cursor keys? (Only backlit ThinkPad keys are also island style, but with some slight curve).

    ThinkPads don't come in 17" anymore (or at this moment). Not much desire for such screens, especially when 15.6" 1920x1080 screens is almost as big as a 17.3".

    For $3045, I custom built a ThinkPad W520 (Workstation Series).
    Same i7-2820QM CPU, 8GB RAM. Has a 1920x1080 FHD screen (these look very nice, but I doubt as good as on this HP). Quadro 2000M with 2GB. This is usually half to a third slower than the Quadro 5000 series.

    160GB intel SSD (320 series) drive (better than that crap Micron drive) - but its easy to simply save $320 to go with a regular HDD and buy an aftermarket Intel 510 series 250GB unit.

    This config includes BlueTooth 3.0 / Centrino 6300N (if you you're going to upgrade beyond the basic... might as well go all the way), Mobile Broadband with GPS. 3 year on-site warranty with Damage protection.

    This weighs about 5lbs, far better keyboard, better touch pad. Meanwhile HP double-copies ThinkPad's 3-button touchpad design as well as the mouse-stick in the middle of the keyboard (Might as well just get a ThinkPad). Battery life is about 4 hours with general usage. The HP has about a 1~2hr running time? This is almost useless for business!

    I've setup an X220 (13" screen), it has about a 5~6hr battery life (optional big battery lasts about 10~20hrs), barely 3lbs, 1" thick with an i5 CPU.

    Most of these ThinkPads are very quiet. The T and W series are very quiet. Bigger X series as well, not the X1 - way too thin with bad cooling.

    For $6500... this notebook needs to offer a lot more. Is this HP trying look like Apple?

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