Business rugged is usually a term that's thrown around without a lot of substance behind it. The new HP EliteBooks are different. These notebooks are designed to meet the military standard (MIL-STD 810G) for vibration, dust, humidity, altitude, and high temperatures. Both the 14-inch 8440p and 15.6-inch 8540 have full magnesium alloy chassis and wear their toughness on their sleeves with a gunmetal anondized-aluminum finish. Metal hinges, a spill-resistant keyboard with DuraKeys treatment, and reinforced display latch also provide peace of mind to business users.
To prove that these systems can take a beating, HP showed us these systems being baked, frozen, and showered in dust. The enhanced durability of the EliteBook line could give it an edge over Dell's Latitudes and Lenovo's ThinkPads, but we'll have to see how well they perform in our tests.
The 8440p is better equipped for travel, starting at 4.7 pounds and rated to last up to 24 hours on a charge (when eqipped with HP's Ultra Capacity Battery. This machine will be powered by Intel's Core i5 processor or Core i7 CPU and can be outfitted with Intel integrated graphics or Nvidia's discrete NVS 3100 GPU (512MB video RAM). The 8540 has similar processor options, but you get beefier Nvidia NVS 5100m graphics with 1GB of dedicated video memory.
To keep you connected with co-workers, both Elitebooks come with a 90-day free trail of HP SkyRoom videoconferncing software. During a quick demo we were impressed with the video and audio quality, and can envision this being an important tool for collaboration. HP also includes its Quick Look 3 software, which offers read and write capability of contacts, calendar, e-mail, and tasks--without having to boot Windows. Businesses looking to keep a close eye on energy costs will appreciate HP's Power Assistant utility, which measures and logs energy usage.
Stay tuned for final pricing and full reviews.