REVIEW: HP EliteBook 8440w Wades into Workstation Fray

HP EliteBook 8440w enters the bantam-weight mobile workstation fray loaded with management extras but an unremarkable 14-inch display.

The HP EliteBook 8440w adds a 14-inch screen to Hewlett-Packard's mobile workstation lineup, along with extended battery life, support for quick Web and Outlook access, and new management extras that should entice power users and IT managers alike.

The EliteBook 8440w is HP's debut in the 14-inch space, and while the display is unremarkable in terms of brightness and technical color accuracy, the 8440w does pack a punch in terms of processor performance and connectivity options in a well-designed form.

For images of the EliteBook 8440w, click here.

The 8440w, which started shipping Feb. 1, starts at $1,425 at the HP Online store. The unit I tested cost $1,649 and was configured with a 2.66GHz Intel Core i7-620M dual-core processor; the standard-life nine-cell, 100WHr lithium-ion battery; and 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM. The workstation in this configuration comes with a 320GB, 7,200-rpm SATA II drive with HP 3D DriveGuard protection; an integrated 2-megapixel camera; a swipe fingerprint reader; an integrated dial-up modem; and 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless support. The system comes with a three-year warranty. An extended-life battery with a three-year warranty and rated for 1,000 charging cycles is also available although not tested for this review.

The 14-inch LED backlit HD anti-glare screen provides 1,600 by 900 resolution. There's plenty of screen real estate but no option in this model for the color control I've seen in larger mobile workstations. This makes the EliteBook 8440w more suited for number-crunching applications than creative arts and photo processing. The comparable Dell Precision M2400 (detailed below) offers a screen option that also makes it a good choice for presentation-intensive applications.

Get In Where You Fit In

The HP EliteBook family ranges from 12.1-inch ultraportables to 17-inch desktop replacement systems. The 8440w's 14-inch form factor is geared toward mobile professionals who frequently travel and yet need a high-performance workstation that can be easily carried and used in a variety of conditions. Travelers will appreciate the fact that the EliteBook 8440w meets the Department of Defense's MIL-STD 810G standard for reliable operation in environments with dust, humidity, temperature variations and vibration. And the modest-size screen allows the 8440w to be used on airplanes. In addition, there is a pop-out worklight in the top screen bezel for keyboard illumination.

In comparison, Dell's Precision M2400 is configured with a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8800 processor with a 14.1-inch WXGA 1,200-by-800 LED display (an optional UltraSharp WXGA+ 1,440-by-900 display adds $90); a three-year warranty (an optional four-year warranty is available); an NVIDIA Quadro FX 370M graphics card, 4GB of DDR2-800 RAM, a 320GB, 7,200-rpm drive with a free-fall sensor, a nine-cell battery; an 802.11a/b/g/n mini card for wireless support; optional Bluetooth support; a camera and microphone; and integrated dial-up modem. The cost: $1,667-almost exactly the same as my EliteBook 8440w, as tested.

Lenovo makes a slightly larger 15.6-inch ThinkPad W500, with options similar to the EliteBook 8440w. A ThinkPad W500 with a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 processor and 4GB of 1,067MHz DDR3 RAM was on sale at $1,653. Clearly the tight price/performance race in this category means that IT managers can make buying choices based on raw performance and technical features, along with considering the additional management and useful (as opposed to bloatware) software tools that accompany the system. On this score, the HP EliteBook 8440w does not disappoint. But first let's look at some basic performance information.