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At a preview of the new devices last month in San Francisco, HP VP Michael Park said company-deployed laptops must prioritize not only security and reliability, but also the user experience employees need to be productive. The new EliteBook 800 series of laptops represents the company's latest attempt to balance both needs.
Thinner and lighter than previous HP laptops, the 800 series notebooks are each built around a unibody magnesium chassis with aluminum accents for additional support. The computers are MIL-STD 810 G-certified for military-grade ruggedness and include optional upgrades such as backlit keyboards.
The 800 series includes three models: the EliteBook 820, which features a 12-inch display and weighs less than 3 pounds; the EliteBook 840, which has a 14-inch display with an optional touch configuration optimized for Windows 8 and a secondary "Slice Battery" that extends battery life up to 33 hours; and the EliteBook 850, which includes a 15.6-inch display that is available in both touch and non-touch options.
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HP officials said the EliteBooks' design takes cues from luxury cars, but emphasized that the stylishness is functional. The 800 series' clamshells have a distinctive but subtle outward bow, for example, that not only gives the machines rakish curves but also protects the screen from being damaged if too much pressure is applied to the backside of the display. HP also managed to make the devices thin yet fully featured by hiding peripherals in each EliteBook's hinge.
The EliteBooks all come with HP Pure Start, a new technology designed to protect computers at the BIOS level. HP said the product can detect corrupted code and replace the affected BIOS Boot Block with a clean copy from secure memory, completely eliminating the threat. What's more, HP claims the entire process takes under 30 seconds, which should mitigate employee downtime.
In addition to its flagship EliteBooks, HP also introduced new 600 series and 400 series ProBooks.
The 600 series models are designed to be highly configurable, including options for both Intel and AMD processors, as well as 4G LTE support and other add-ons. They are available in both 14-inch and 15.6-inch configurations. The 400 series models are aimed at small businesses and available in several sizes. They include a new hybrid storage drive that sounds broadly like the Fusion Drive found in Apple's iMac. HP said the drive will deliver the responsiveness of an SSD and the capacity of a traditional hard drive.
HP also introduced a Security Smart Jacket for its ElitePad business tablets. The cover provides mobile authentication through either an integrated smartcard reader or an optional fingerprint reader. It also provides a USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port.
All the models come with Intel's fourth-generation, or "Haswell" processors, except for certain 600 series models, which, as mentioned, can be configured with an AMD chip. Windows 7 is also available in addition to Windows 8.
HP's new laptops won't be the only devices vying for the attention of enterprise buyers. Dell launched new business laptops in August, for example, and Microsoft's new Surface tablets will also be in the mix, particularly the Surface Pro 2, which Microsoft representatives generally refer to as an Ultrabook rather than a tablet. HP hopes its devices will stand out, due not only to new designs and services such as HP Pure Start, but also a product catalog that spans a range of needs and prices.
The EliteBook 800 series starts at $799 and is available immediately in the U.S. The ProBook 600 series will be available in November and will start at "under $699." The 400 series ProBooks are available now, with the base model starting at $499. The HP Security Smart Jacket is $249 for the standard version with a smartcard reader and $439 for the upgraded version with the fingerprint reader. Both options are available now.