Durable design that's very light for 15-incher; Strong security features; Bright 1080p matte screen; Easy-to-remove bottom; Long battery life
Mixed performance results; Viewing angles could be wider
The HP EliteBook 850 G1 is an excellent 15-inch business laptop with a durable design, strong security features and long battery life.
The EliteBook 850 G1 is a Windows 7 Pro notebook built for productivity and security. Complete with a fingerprint scanner, HP's security software, a durable design and a luminous 15.6-inch 1080p display, the $1,614 laptop (starting at $954) has everything a business user could want. But is HP's Core i7-powered EliteBook the best notebook you can get for the price?
The EliteBook 850 G1 looks and feels like it can take some abuse. The first thing we noticed about HP's enterprise-oriented notebook was its durable black magnesium lid, which features the same matte soft-touch finish that's used in the auto industry to keep cars scratch-resistant.
This laptop will likely emerge scrape-free after rattling around in your luggage during flights. The EliteBook 850 G1 is also MIL-STD 810G approved, meaning it can endure more stressful scenarios involving extreme temperatures, pressure, altitude, shock and humidity than your average notebook.
Inside, the EliteBook's keyboard deck sports a shiny, premium-looking silver aluminum design. A speaker is situated just above this keyboard deck, with a fingerprint scanner placed just below it on the right. The Elitebook 850 G1's roomy touchpad almost makes the keyboard look small, but we certainly appreciated the extra space while scrolling.
The laptop's magnesium underside features a removable door for easy access to its internal components. This means you can easily switch out its hard drive for an upgrade without having to purchase a new unit.
Measuring 14.78 x 9.98 x 0.84 inches, the 4.4-pound HP EliteBook 850 G1 is fairly light and portable for a 15-inch laptop. In fact, HP says that this model is 40 percent thinner and 27 percent lighter than the previous model.
HP Trust Circle is an encryption program that completely locks down files unless you approve certain contacts to see them. The basic version of Trust Circle, which is available for free, lets you add up to five people to your trust circle. The Pro version, which sells for $19.98 for HP devices and $29.98 for non-HP computers, lets you create multiple trust circles.
Among HP's included security features is its Just In Time Authentication policy, which lets you place certain time restraints on the device. This means if you walk away from the computer and it remains inactive for a certain period of time, an intruder won't be able to plug in an external device with potentially malicious material without proper authentication.
During our testing we used our fingerprint to log into our Facebook account and to sign on to our computer easily. The process of enrolling your fingerprint is simple as well. We only had to swipe each finger two to three times before the device recognized our print.
HP's productivity-oriented notebook boasts not only beautiful visuals, but also a brighter screen than the competition. During our light meter reading the display averaged 300 lux, which is more luminous than the mainstream laptop category average (207 lux), the Dell Latitude E7440 (238 lux), the Acer TravelMate P645 (235 lux) and the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (294 lux).
The bundled DTS Audio software allows you to choose between certain presets depending on what you're listening to. Music categories include Rock, Opera, Grunge, Techno, Rap and Country; each setting slightly tweaks elements such as bass, treble and focus.
The HP EliteBook 850 reached 84 decibels during the LAPTOP Audio Test, which is one decibel above the mainstream notebook category average. This was just slightly louder than the Acer TravelMate P645 (83 dB) and the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (81 dB), but the Dell Latitude E7440 was the most boisterous (88 dB).
Touchpad and Pointing Stick
The Elitebook 850's pointing stick sports a rubbery, comfortable grip that made it easy to scroll without reaching for the touchpad. The textured feel reminded us of Lenovo's TrackPoint pointing stick, although HP's nub features a concave shape made to fit the tip of your finger.
The HP EliteBook 850 managed to stay cool during our testing. The notebook's underside reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit when streaming video on Hulu for 15 minutes, which is below the 95-degree threshold that we consider uncomfortable. The touchpad only hit 78 degrees, and the area between the G and H keys reached a mild 89 degrees.
Ports and Webcam
The notebook's 720p webcam took clear and colorful images during our testing. Using the preloaded Cyberlink YouCam software, we didn't notice any grain or blurriness when snapping a self-portrait.
During the Geekbench 3 synthetic test, the HP EliteBook 850 scored 5,901, which is just below the 5,918 mainstream laptop category average and the Acer TravelMate P645 (5,954) but is higher than the Dell Latitude E7440 (5,259) and Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (5,151).
The Acer TravelMate is powered by a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i7-4500 CPU with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, while the Dell Latitude E7440 runs on a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-4300U processor with 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Lenovo's laptop comes equipped with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
HP's business notebook took a somewhat sluggish 30 seconds to boot, which is longer than the average mainstream laptop (0:26). The Acer TravelMate P645 (0:23, Windows 7 Pro) was also faster.
The EliteBook 850 also transferred files slower than all four laptops, but faster than the average mainstream notebook. It took HP's device 47 seconds to duplicate 5GB of mixed media files equaling a rate of 108.3 MBps, which is slower than the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (188 MBps), the Acer TravelMate P645 (176 MBps) and the Dell Latitude E7440 (130 MBps).
HP's offering was the fastest when it came to retrieving data. The EliteBook 850 matched 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses during the Open Office Spreadsheet test in just 4 minutes and 28 seconds, which is faster than the 6 minutes and 17-second mainstream category average. This also outperforms the Dell Latitude E7440 (4:46), Acer TravelMate P645 (4:42) and Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (5:14).
The EliteBook scored 37,731 during the 3DMark Ice Storm benchmark, which falls below the 40,507 mainstream notebook category average. Comparatively, the Dell Latitude E7440 (29,235) and ThinkPad T440s (25,767) scored lower, and the Acer TravelMate hit a higher 39,585.
The HP EliteBook 850's 3-cell battery lasted for 7 hours and 26 minutes during the LAPTOP Battery Test, which consists of continuously surfing the Web with the display brightness set to 40 percent. This is longer than the 6:50 mainstream laptop category average, the Dell Latitude E7440 (5:52) and the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s with its regular battery (7:01). However, the Acer TravelMate P645 (9:46) and the Thinkpad T440s with its high-capacity battery (14:36) lasted much longer during the same test. To be fair, though, both of those notebooks are 14-inchers, which place more of an emphasis on portability.
The HP EliteBook 850 comes in a few different flavors depending on your budget. The least expensive model starts at $954 and features a 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 resolution display, 4GB of RAM, a 7,200RPM 500GB hard drive and runs on an Intel Core i5-4200U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400.
The priciest model sells for $1,914 and comes with a 1080p display, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SATA self-encrypting hard drive. Our review unit is just below the highest price point at $1,614 with a 1080p display, an Intel Core i7-4600U processor with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD.
Software and Warranty
As mentioned above, the EliteBook 850 comes preloaded with Cyberlink's YouCam software for taking images with its 720p webcam and DTS Audio for managing sound preferences.
HP also includes a limited three-year warranty that covers parts and labor, including the device's battery. See how HP fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best & Worst Brands report.
Geared toward those who want control over their files, the notebook comes with a removable bottom for swapping out your hard drive and HP's Trust Circles encryption software to ensure only approved contacts see your confidential content. We also appreciate the soft-touch scratch- resistant magnesium lid. The only notable strike against the EliteBook 850 is the matte display's somewhat shallow viewing angles.
Those who don't mind a smaller screen should check out the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s, which offers swifter performance, a better keyboard and a more impressive 14 hours of battery life. Overall, though, the EliteBook 850 is a very good choice for workers in need of a durable and secure large-screen they can take with them.
|CPU||2.1-GHz Intel Core i7-4600U|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Professional|
|RAM Upgradable to||16GB|
|Hard Drive Size||180GB|
|Hard Drive Speed|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Intel integrated HD graphics 4400|
|Touchpad Size||4.1 x 2.5|
|Ports (excluding USB)||RJ-45|
|Ports (excluding USB)||DisplayPort|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Combo Headphone/Mic Jack|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Smart Card Reader|
|Card Slots||Multi-Format Digital Memory Card Reader|
|Card Slots||Smart Card|
|Warranty/Support||3 year limited warranty|
|Size||14.78 x 9.98 x 0.84 inches|