HP's Elitebook feels oddly anachronistic. Perhaps it's the black keys on the plastic faux aluminium design, with the darker grey touch-pad that makes it feel oh-so '80s. It could be the round buttons at the top right that toggle the Wi-Fi, load the browser or mute the volume, or the slimline button at the top left that harkens back to an age when VCRs were king.
Or maybe it's the incredible thickness of the machine when laptops are meant to be getting thinner. Chunky is the word we're searching for here.
It's not heavy, though, and HP's made sure the extra height has been taken advantage of; stuffing in two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 (one including an eSATA port), a DVD drive, ExpressCard 54 slot, FireWire, SD/MMC card reader, DisplayPort, VGA, a SecureCard reader, headphone and microphone jacks, gigabit Ethernet and a good ol' 56Kbps modem.
The 14-inch, 1600x900 matte screen is LED backlit, and seems muted in its brightness and saturation — but we'd wager this would be a much more comfortable monitor to look at throughout the whole day as a result. There's a button next to the webcam, which when pressed pops out an LED to illuminate the keyboard. However, it's quite low intensity, and even in a completely black room was effectively useless. We'd much prefer a backlit keyboard.
As is the way with many business notebooks it's dual-input, with both a touch pad and a track stick, with mouse buttons above and below the pad.
As far as wireless goes, the 8460p almost packs it all. There's 5GHz 802.11n in here, Bluetooth 2.1 and, as a welcome touch, integrated mobile broadband, powered by HP's hs2340 module. It has 850, 900, 1575, 1800, 1900 and 2100MHz antennas in the laptop, meaning you should be able to hop on to any Australian 3G network and make the best of it.
Our particular machine came kitted out with a Core i7 2720QM processor clocked at 2.2GHz, an AMD Radeon HD 6470M graphics card, a 160GB Intel G2 SSD and 4GB RAM, although it was pre-installed with Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. Thankfully, businesses that choose to be a bit more progressive can unlock the full potential of that RAM by opting for a 64-bit install instead.
Performance was moderate for 3D, with 3DMark06 clocking in at 5200. More impressive was the thumping great score of 12,540 for PCMark05, indicating the 8460p is a workhorse of a workstation, no doubt helped along by its solid-state drive.
Battery life was what one would expect for this sort of power, clocking in at two hours and 32 minutes with all power-saving features turned off, screen brightness and volume set to maximum, and an XviD file played back in full screen.
We like what the Elitebook brings to the party. The high resolution, muted screen will be great for all-day computing, and the multi-carrier 3G module is a big boon for those who need to travel, but don't want to be locked into one particular carrier.