The HP EliteBook family is a line of respected business-focused laptops that, like most HP offerings, have gone through major design changes over the years. These changes have resulted in one of the best-looking laptops currently in the market and one that has some unique benefits for those of us working from home. I’ve been using the HP EliteBook 840 G7 (the G7 means this is the latest version), and it is an impressive improvement over their G6 offering.
Let’s explore what makes this notebook special, particularly against the new requirements of this rather frightening year. There is no other way to say this, but 2020 sucks, and we are starting to see PC OEMs create products that can thrive in this sucky year.
HP EliteBook 830/840 G7
HP’s leadership in the laptop segment resides around design and security, and these two offerings showcase that focus. The 830 is their 13-inch offering, while the 840 uses a larger 14-inch screen. I requested the 840 because I believe, given most of us can’t travel, that a larger screen during the pandemic will provide more value than a smaller screen designed for travelers when we aren’t traveling.
Design improvements over the G6 include a significantly better screen-to-body ratio. The result is that the 830 G7 is 11.5% smaller than the G6, and the 840 G7 is 9% smaller than the G6. While these notebooks lost weight, so did their competitors, but still there is less than a 5% difference between HP’s offerings and lighter competitors. In the meantime, HP’s benchmarking reports a significant performance advantage. Even over its most recent model (the G6), HP reports a substantial 21% performance increase.
You can get these with either a 250 nit (indoor only) screen or a 400-nit screen, which works both indoors and outdoors. Given we are all going a little stir crazy, having a laptop you can use outside in your yard would push me toward the 400-nit option. Granted, with all the smoke that many of us are dealing with, going outside isn’t that attractive now, but eventually we’ll be able to go outside again, and it will be glorious!
Battery life got a huge boost in the G7. Watching videos, for instance, jumped to around 4 hours more version to version, and the new Bang & Olufsen speakers are awesome (however, I find when I’m using this at home, I have to wear headphones because, apparently, my wife doesn’t care much for drag racing or crazy Russian driver videos)!
One interesting improvement is a move to a wider lens on the laptop camera. This didn’t make much sense in the office because you are likely in a cubicle, so a wide-angle lens just showcases that you need to clean up your space more often. But at home it gives a better sense of who you are, and it also helps back off the image of your face so folks aren’t focused on your complexion or the fact you need to trim your nose hair.
Finally, and this addresses a personal annoyance, HP has put one of the quietest keyboards I’ve ever used into this laptop. My personal annoyance is listening to some nimrod type while I’m trying to listen to a Zoom call.
Prices start at around $1,400, with the one I used costing far closer to $2,000 due to a number of options–including that 400 nit screen and a 4G SIM slot for data.
While HP is mostly focused on business users, the HP EliteBook 830/840 represents what could be the perfect balance between functionality and design so far this year. With a significant bump in performance, far more pleasing lines, and a finish that has been tested to survive crayon, ink and lipstick (along with bleach wipes), this laptop should both serve well at home and when you go back to work.
While I’d personally prefer a 17-inch notebook because I’m not going to be going back on the road for at least another year, for those that need to back sooner or occasionally travel, a 14-inch notebook is ideal. I favor the 840 over the 830. 13-inch products work best for women who carry them in purses or for frequent travelers, and we just don’t have many of the latter right now thanks to the pandemic.
In any case, the HP EliteBook G7 is an impressive offering, and you should check out if you get the chance.
Rob Enderle is a principal at Enderle Group. He is a nationally recognized analyst and a longtime contributor to eWEEK and Pund-IT.