HP has announced several new notebooks, but one in particular has a design-centric feature set that has really piqued my interest. I have been using HP notebooks for years now, it’s not that I’m really in love with them, it’s just that they are so damned powerful and ridiculously cheap. Of course that has come at a cost, the construction is downright shoddy; both of mine have broken at one time or another, luckily I had warranties on them. I travel with a TX-1000 series for internet / email chores and a hulking DV-9000 series for on the road video / graphics duties (along with running the visuals for live shows). I am really tired of the sub-par display quality and power management of most PC notebooks so I have been looking at replacing mine with a MacBook Pro. I really like the physical construction of the MBPs and the the power management of OSX (my HPs both have abysmal battery life stats). But HP’s past offenses aside, I may have to reconsider my switch in light of this new breed of designer-targeted notebooks.
The recently announced HP Elitebook 8730w comes with a Dreamcolor display. That’s pretty impressive for a laptop; the specs on the Dreamcolor displays are amazing (1,000,000,000 colors?!) and to have that kind of color reproduction on the road would be a huge advantage. Add to that a dual-SATA drive option (two physical disks for Photoshop Swap Drive duties or RAID-0/1 configurations) along with dual DVI outs (one onboard HDMI/DVI socket, one external via the optional dock) and docking capability (something the MacBook inexplicably lacks) and you have yourself a portable graphic design powerhouse. Another incentive is the anodized aluminum "Duracase" which is hopefully better than the brittle plastic they made the previous models out of. Given the specs (Quad Core Intel / 8GB RAM / 1GB VRAM!) you could get away with using this as your desktop machine as well.
My only concerns with this new offering are the lack of a 15" screen option (17" is a bit too large to really be portable in my opinion) and the fact that HP is gloss-happy when it comes to screens. On both my laptops the screen is so glossy that the glare prevents me from seeing the screen in most outdoor environments (and many indoor environments). The don’t seem to specify whether the screen on the 8730w is glossy or matte, but if they end up offering a 15" matte screen option they can put me down for one.
And the real kicker? It’s $1699. That’s US dollars, and it’s not a misprint. $1699!!! A comparably equipped MacBook Pro doesn’t exist, but even a lesser-equipped MBP would run you over double that figure. It’s times like these I feel lucky to be so entangled in the complete disaster that is Windows. I learned on Windows and really can’t fully divorce myself from it and therefore am at it’s mercy, so when a great hardware option like this comes along I have to be thankful. Oh yeah, and a Windows XP downgrade option is also available on the 8730w; this is opposed to the earlier HP / MS bed-buddy policy of forcing you to use Vista on new laptop purchases. They went as far as to remove the XP drivers from their site for my DV9000 when Vista came out just to force me to upgrade. To tell the truth, XP has matured into a remarkably stable operating system. I have tested it extensively versus OS X and it’s stood up to the challenge. I will admit that OS X is overall a more stable and reliable OS, but when configured properly, XP gets the job done and gets it done faster.
So here’s to hoping that the 8730w lives up to the hype and eventually spawns a 15" incarnation; it would be a valuable addition to any designers arsenal and a very cost-effective one at that.
Have you used or do you own a Dreamcolor display? What do you think? Any other potential Mac switchers swayed by this recent development? Let us know.