HP Brings Consumer Cool to Business-Class Notebook PCs

With an optional 4K display and a super thin design, the HP EliteBook Folio brings consumer features and styling to a business notebook.

HP EliteBook 2

SAN FRANCISCO—HP plans to take the wraps off of several new notebooks at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The new notebooks are aimed at business customers, but sport high-end consumer fit and finish.

“The theme of the day is that Millennial customers are the largest subset of business end users. They are increasingly well-represented among IT pros and business decision makers,” Mike Nash, vice president of customer experience and portfolio strategy at HP, told eWEEK during a briefing here ahead of the giant CES consumer electronics trade show that starts today.

Nash says it’s imperative that business owners give Millennials the same kind of tools they’re used to outside the office, because otherwise “they’ll either sneak them in or work someplace else.”

The HP EliteBook Folio running Windows 10 Pro is a good example of how HP is showing off its consumer expertise while not sacrificing any of the enterprise features prized by IT. Billed as “the world’s thinnest and lightest business-class notebook” the Elitebook Folio is 21 percent slimmer and 15 percent lighter, at just under a kilogram, than its predecessor, the HP EliteBook 1020.

In addition to security features and long battery life, HP says the Elitebook Folio is the first notebook “purpose-built for collaboration.” Nash said extra time was spent on testing to make sure participants in a conference call can clearly hear conversations through the microphone. “Also, we said, ‘let’s tune the four speakers with Bang and Oulfson not just for rocking hip hop songs, which they do great, but also so that the spoken word sounds right,’” said Nash. Bang and Oulfson are well-regarded designers of speakers and sound systems

Also, at the touch of a button on the keyboard, you can answer your phone, mute the sound or call up your calendar without having to search for those functions onscreen.

HP asserts that the new notebook offers an increase of up to 40 percent in “loudness” compared to earlier models which, in practical terms, means it can be used more effectively as a group speakerphone.

For small groups or one-to-one presentations, the EliteBook Folio has a 180-degree piano hinge that lets the notebook screen fold completely flat making it easier for more than one person to see the display.

A 12.5-inch edge-to-edge glass touch display is standard, but HP also offers an optional Ultra HD (UHD) 4K display for super high resolution. While there may not be a big demand for 4K in the office, higher end GoPro cameras and drones can shoot 4K video, which require a 4K display so it can be viewed in full resolution; otherwise it’s limited to a standard 1080 display.

In terms of mobile productivity, the EliteBook Folio can run on battery power for up to 10 hours. Plus, there is no cooling fan, so it’s quiet.

HP also showed off the HP EliteBook 1040 that sports a bigger 14-inch display and the same all-aluminum diamond cut design of the EliteBook Folio and the EliteBook 800 available in 12.5-, 14-, and 15.6-inch display models.

Standard features include 8GB RAM and two USB-C ports for connectivity.

Keeping its core enterprise customers in mind, HP says the Elite family of notebooks sport more security and management features than earlier generations. Built-in security features include the HP Client Security Software Suite, Trusted Platform Module certification, enhanced BIOS-level protection with HP Sure Start with Dynamic Protection13, and an optional hardened fingerprint reader.

On the manageability side, HP offers tools like HP Touchpoint Manager 15, HP Image Assistant and an optional Intel Core vPro processor so IT can remotely manage the device over wired and wireless networks.

The HP Touchpoint Manager now features software inventory and deployment, as well as patch management and support for BYOD devices, which expands IT administrators’ ability to secure and optimize devices from a single dashboard.

HP says that its new HP Image Assistant is the first custom image diagnostics tool for commercial PCs with a self-help dashboard to help enterprises reduce IT costs and protect sensitive company data.

Nash says the new HP models compare favorably to Apple’s latest MacBook, though he acknowledges that the venerable PC maker has to overcome a perception issue.

“When we show people some of this new stuff they go ‘Wow, that’s a nice device—this is from HP?’ Our design guys said four years ago they wanted to do a lot more cool design and no one would let them. Now we’re not only letting them, we’re making them.”

There are several release dates for HP’s new portables. The EliteBook 1040 G3 with prices starting at $1,199 and the EliteBook 800 G3 series with prices starting at $949 are expected out later this month. HP won't ship the EliteBook Folio, with a starting price of $999, until March.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...