HP slips Intel's desktop Cores into biz laptops
The power of small sacrifice
With plenty of laptops in the business world ranging in age from five to eight years old, Hewlett-Packard is rubbing its hands together. It anticipates a big upgrade cycle in 2010 among commercial PC users whose companies might just be ready to give them a reasonable machine on which to do work, despite the weak economy.
While low-volt and ultra-low-volt parts help conserve energy, many end users want the performance of a desktop crammed into a notebook case, and they complain about having to pick low-voltage or ultra-low-voltage processors from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices. And so, with the current crop of EliteBook and ProBook business notebooks from HP coming out today, customers can use standard Core i5 and i7 processors from Intel if they configure the machines appropriately so the peripherals don't cause the machines to overheat.
On the two EliteBook machines that HP is revamping today - both with 12.1-inch screens and one of them a touch-enabled convertible tablet - choosing standard Core i5 or i7 processors (which have more clocks and cache memory compared to low-voltage parts) only decreases battery life on a six-cell battery by about 20 minutes. Some people need that battery life, and others want the faster performance. Now, they can choose.
To use the standard Core i5 or i7 processors and a faster 2.5-inch, 7200 RPM disk drive, customers do have to sacrifice the optical drive. Those who want to use low-voltage parts - and who can make do with 1.8-inch, 5400 RPM disks - can add back the optical drive and put a second disk in the machine if they want.
The new EliteBook 2450p is HP's lightest high-performance notebook, weighing in at 3.38 pounds. The system's motherboard is based on Intel's QM57 chipset with vPro business tech for managing and securing the machine as an optional add-on. The machine has two DDR3 memory slots, with 8 GB of maximum memory. Dual-core Core i5 and i7 processors as well as the low-volt dual-core Core i7 can be put in the 2450p. All of these processors have Turbo Boost to goose the performance of one core when the other is not particularly busy.
The screen has a 1280x800 resolution, and it's driven by Intel's HD graphics card. The machine has wireless networking built in, with an optional HP broadband module if you want to link to the Internet over the cell phone network. The machine includes a Gigabit Ethernet port and a 56K modem, and batteries with three, six, or nine lithium ion cells are available for the EliteBook 2450p, rated at 4, 8.5, and 12.5 hours of compute time.
The EliteBook 2450p will be available in April, with a starting price of $1,099.
The convertible tablet version of this machine is the EliteBook 2470p, which has a stainless steel exterior and a full magnesium case so it can meet military requirements and is tough enough for sales, asset tracking, and other field uses. This machine only comes with Core i5 and i7 mobile processors (no low-voltage options), and it's based on the same system board as the EliteBook 2450p. It weighs a bit more, at 3.8 pounds, thanks to the swivel hinge that converts it from a laptop to a tablet.
The starting price for the EliteBook 2740p is $1,599, and it will also be available in April.
The EliteBooks come with Microsoft's Windows 7 Professional, Windows XP (tablet edition where appropriate), Windows Vista Business, or FreeDOS pre-installed. Windows 7 Home Premium and Vista Enterprise are supported, and Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 is certified to run on the machines, but it's not pre-installed. HP is also tossing on a trial version of its SkyRoom high-def video conferencing software onto the new EliteBooks.
The ProBook S
The ProBook S series of business notebooks also get a refresh today from HP. There are four new ProBook models, and they all sport USB 2.0 peripheral ports and a combination eSATA/USB 2.0 port for external disk attachment to the machines. They also have a fixed-focus Web cam built into the screen, and HDMI and VGA ports. (Other HP notebooks don't have the HDMI ports any more, but business customers still want these).
All of the ProBooks announced today also have an embedded Linux environment called DayStarter, that loads in four seconds as Windows is booting and gives users access to the prior twelve hours of their Outlook calendar (which is cached when the machine is turned off) as well as battery stats. DayStarter lets you see where you need to be as you await the Windows boot. This feature will eventually be offered on all HP ProBook and EliteBook machines.
The ProBook S machines announced today have optional fingerprint log-on and the facial recognition system log-on, the latter of which debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in January with the HP Mini. The four machines come with brushed aluminum cases that are available in caviar or bordeaux colors. (What you and I might call dark gray and deep purple.)
The ProBook 4320s notebook can be equipped with the mobile variants of the "Westmere" versions of the Core i3, i5, and i7 processors that Intel debuted earlier this year. The machine uses Intel's HM57 chipset, and it has two DDR3 memory slots capable of supporting up to 8 GB.
The ProBook 4320s has a 13.3-inch screen (1366x768 resolution) and comes with Intel's integrated HD graphics as well as the option of plugging in one of AMD's ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4350 discrete graphics cards with 512 MB of memory. As you would expect, the machine supports wireless and wired Gigabit networking and has an optional HP mobile broadband module. This machine can have a single SATA disk (ranging from 250 GB to 500 GB) spinning at 7200 RPM, and weighs in at 4.74 pounds.
The ProBook 4420s pushes the screen size up to 14 inches (with the same 1366x768 rez) and the weight up to 4.71 pounds (5 pounds if you put the optical drive in). The ProBook 4520s takes the screen 15.6 inches (no change in rez) and the weight 5.5 pounds with the optical drive. Finally, the ProBook 4720s takes the screen size up to 17.3 inches, the resolution up to 1600x900, and the weight up to 6.8 pounds with the optical drive.
The ProBook S series machines that debut today have a wider variety of operation system options than the EliteBooks that came out with them. HP will pre-install the 32-bit versions of Windows 7 (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional) and Windows XP Professional through a downgrade. Customers can also get a machine with Windows Vista Home Basic or Business (32-bit versions), SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11, or FreeDOS installed on the ProBook S machines. Red Flag Linux is available in China. The 64-bit Windows 7 Professional is supported on the machine, but you have to install it yourself.
The ProBook S series machines will ship this month, with a starting price of $719. ®