HP goes ultra as business class laptops, workstations debut

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HP’s Z workstations including the Ultrabook-size ZBook 14 – third from left

Hewlett-Packard’s spring 2013 mobile business computing refresh brings slimmer, lighter laptops along with the world’s first workstation dressed in Ultrabook clothing.

Speaking at a press event in Auckland, market development manager Simon Molloy showed the Ultrabook-style workstation, more conventional mobile workstations and HP’s latest business-class Ultrabooks. Also on show were the company’s made-over range of desktop monitors and a point-of-sale jacket for HP’s Elitepad tablet. 

HP’s business notebooks are all variations on the EliteBook 800 theme. Molloy says they are as much as 40 percent slimmer and 28 percent lighter than the models they replace. In practice there’s a noticeable lack of physical heft in the new devices. HP has moved to the new Haswell chips which he says means users should see about 10 hours battery life.

Molloy describes the new models as: “Ultra mobile and ultra-secure”.

There’s an emphasis on security; the new computers come with a self-healing bios. This gives protection from malicious attacks on a computer’s boot sector. The bios has a mirror image, it checks itself against this image during boot. If they don’t match, the software loads a fresh copy. If it kicks in, the process only adds 15 seconds to the boot time.

Elsewhere on the security front, the notebooks come with proprietary HP encryption software as standard.

Molloy talks of the difficulty of cramming business-class computing into an Ultrabook package. The inevitable result is a degree of consumerisation, even in kit built for medium to large organisations. He says there are touch screen options but adding touch makes the notebooks thicker and heavier.

Nevertheless, he says some customers have asked for touch and demand is growing as Windows 8 gains acceptance. Perhaps not too much, because he also admitted most new notebook customers in HP’s business sector choose to downgrade the operating system from Windows 8 to Windows 7.

HP expanded the Z series workstation line with new models using Thunderbolt technology for high-speed data transfer. To date Thunderbolt has been mainly seen in Apple products. All the mobile workstations are thinner and lighter, but the HP ZBook 14 is Ultrabook size.