HP announced a number of new notebook products yesterday, both in the business and consumer spaces. The new releases include a refresh of HP's Compaq-branded business notebooks, and a new line of rugged business notebooks dubbed the Elitebook. Some utilize Intel's new Centrino 2 mobile platform, and some feature access to multiple different mobile broadband services through a new HP "un2400" module. They will vary in price and be available later this month.
The only radically new product in the new launch is the Elitebook line, a rugged business laptop presumably designed to compete with the venerable Panasonic Toughbook. It features a number of ruggedizing features, including a magnesium chassis with a scratch-resistant aluminum coating similar to that of the Toughbook, rugged hard disks, and heavier screen mountings, which HP claims can withstand almost double the force of prior laptops. The Elitebook 6930p is certified to the same MIL-STD-810F military ruggedness specifications as the Toughbook. This requires the notebook to be able to withstand extreme temperatures, dust, vibration, drops, humidity, and spills, surviving them all in working order.
It also packs a number of novel features as a laptop. The Elitebook allows dual hard disks in RAID or independent configurations, which the Toughbook cannot, and uses Intel's latest Montevina "Centrino 2" laptop platform. The screen is LED backlit, which should increase battery life; this seems to have been a focus in the new notebook's design. Indeed, the new laptop can sport dual batteries for an advertised 15 hours of battery life, providing the option for a full day in the field without external power and again exceeding the Toughbook's capabilities. The Elitebook's 2MP webcam doubles as a business card reader, with an HP app that loads the data from a business card into an Outlook address book automatically.
All this is packed into a 14.1" frame and weighs only 4½ lb. The Elitebook will launch later this month with the other new laptops, and cost $1179 in its default configuration.
The new update brings a total refresh to HP's Compaq-branded business line, featuring eight new notebooks in 14.1", 15.4", and 17" screen sizes. They are divided into a b-series, which carries a silver finish, uses integrated graphics, and supports mobile broadband, and an s-series which carries a black finish, supports discrete graphics cards, and does not have mobile broadband. No word on why HP would segment these valuable features into separate lines, except perhaps to boost sales of the Elitebook.
The b-series laptops are 14.1" and 15.4" models which carry mobile broadband, bluetooth, and have the option to use either AMD or Intel laptop processors. The 15.4" model carries a "Universal Accessory Compatibility" bay which allows DVD drives, batteries and other devices to be switched seamlessly. Both models have integrated graphics.
The s-series, which includes an economy model priced at a mere $700, sports a host of security features including drive encryption, a file sanitizer which purports to irrecoverably delete sensitive data, and HP's head-parking DriveGuard, which protects the laptop's hard disk against damage from falls. It is available in a wider variety of sizes, including a 17" option which disappointingly fails to offer 1920x1200 monitor resolution, but is a Centrino 2 laptop.
All in all, this notebook refresh is a pretty good one. HP's business line has been updated to use newly available processors and chipsets. 3G wireless broadband options are available. Most of all, though, the Elitebook is a novel and exciting notebook users will probably be delighted to see. HP seems to be on the ball with this update