Friday, 22 December 2017

HP EliteBook 1040 G4

More than $ 2,000 is a lot to spend on a business laptop that is not workstation, but HP defends that with its new EliteBook 1040 G4 (starts at $ 1,379; $ 2,099 as proven), a 14-inch ultraportable with Remote administration and security features that will attract IT departments. It also has a serious power, with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM and a Full HD touch screen. The EliteBook 1040 costs much less than our primary choice for mobile workstations, the HP ZBook 15 G4, but it is also much more expensive than our ultraportable Editors' Choice business, the Lenovo ThinkPad T470. However, it is not a substitute for either option, which makes this ultra-premium configuration of the EliteBook 1040 a bit strange. It is still a very capable machine, but not essential for most companies.

Elegant Ultraportable

HP has refreshed the style of the EliteBook line to look more like its Specter and 2-in-1 consumer ultrabooks. Although not as splendidly elegant as the Snow White 13 spectrum, the 14-inch EliteBook 1040 shares a similar speaker grille placed on the keyboard, hiding some of the six Bang & Olufsen speakers in the system. It is a considerable complement, compared to the two speakers of the EliteBook 1040 G3, and includes two discrete amplifiers that help the system to reach a maximum of 80 decibels, according to HP. That's great for video conferencing, and although the speakers did not manage to pump audio into every corner of our kitchen-sized sound-proofing room, their output was at least very complete, offering a nice range of ups and downs during the progress of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The EliteBook 1040 G4 weighs 3.37 pounds, certainly not something out of the ordinary for a 14-inch, but a couple of ounces heavier than the ubiquitous ultra-portable 13-inch weighing about 3 pounds. Measuring 0.63 by 12.95 by 9.17 inches (HWD), which is thin enough to fit in a briefcase or handbag, it is not necessary to carry a backpack or a dedicated laptop sleeve on your next trip. The dimensions remain practically unchanged with respect to last year's model.

Perhaps the best aspect of laptop design, especially for corporate types who want to challenge the boring black trend that the ThinkPad popularized, is that the entire EliteBook 1040 is covered with a matte silver finish, with a new stylized HP logo engraved on the cover screen and the EliteBook nickname on the back edge. Everything looks robust, elegant and, well, elite, at least compared to the stupidity of black plastic on the ThinkPad T470 £ 1,296.00 on Amazon. It is even more elegant than the more rounded chassis of the previous EliteBook 1040 G3.

Despite its angular lines, the lower part of the chassis still narrows slightly from the front to the front and is removable, although unfortunately the components are not easy to update or replace by the departments (the memory is welded in place, for example) . In addition, the configuration options are not very numerous: you can choose between 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM and 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB of SSD storage. The lower part also contains an exhaust fan outlet, two loudspeaker grilles further down and four large rubber feet to prevent the laptop from sliding on your desk.

The Full HD touch screen (1,920 by 1,080) in our review unit is superb. The only drawback is a shiny finish that reflects the glow of ambient light. The colors are bright and can be seen from almost any angle thanks to the switching technology in the plane. With 700 nits, it is also one of the most brilliant laptop screens we have seen. It is almost, but not quite, bright enough to be used comfortably in direct sunlight. However, keep in mind that HP offers a total of eight different screen options, each of which will have an effect on battery life. Going with a non-tactile model will improve it slightly, while opting for a 4K screen or one with a built-in privacy filter will degrade it. Choose wisely according to your needs: unless you frequently use your laptop while flying in a coach and edit 4K video, you probably do not need the 4K version or the privacy filter.

Suitable ports

One thing that most business users need, however, is a solid selection of ports, and the Elitebook 1040 does not disappoint. The left edge has a slot to connect to an external lock, a USB 3.1 port and a headphone jack. On the right side there is an HDMI port (crucial for connecting to an external display during a presentation), a second USB 3.1 port and two USB-C ports. A USB-C port even supports Thunderbolt 3 for fast connections to external hard drives, and anyone can charge the laptop using the included USB-C power adapter. The change to the USB-C load is new in the 1040 G4; The G3 has a dedicated power connector.

The keyboard and touchpad of the EliteBook 1040 G4 are wonderfully comfortable and precise, which is not always the case with HP laptops (for example, the HP Specter 13 touch panel is unfortunate). We especially like that the island-style keyboard has extremely strong back-lit keys and practically no bending, even when the fingers are pounding. There are also dedicated buttons to mute the microphone and start and end Skype calls, which could be useful if your workplace is dedicated to video conferencing. Our favorite portable keyboard is still that of the ThinkPad T470, but this is the second closest. Likewise, the touch panel has a generous size and is quite responsive even without customizing the sensitivity settings. It does not come close to the luxurious and huge notebook of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but it is one of the best Windows touchpads.

Other details that business users will appreciate include a webcam with facial recognition capability and a fingerprint reader, which can be used to log on to Windows, assuming the security standards of your IT department allow it. The traditional location of the webcam above the screen means that HP can not reduce the size of the bezel to microscopic proportions, which is a rarity in laptop design these days, but it also means that the camera is positioned to easily capture his face during videoconferences. Some Dell laptops, including the XPS 13 from £ 1,200.00 on Amazon, have their webcams on the bottom left of the screen, which means they mainly have a view of their knuckles. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth come standard, and the EliteBook 1040 G4 can also be ordered with an LTE modem for increased capacity without strings attached.

Since this laptop is designed to appeal to IT departments, it includes support options and remote management features that they expect, including Intel vPro technology. HP also includes its own software, such as a Sure Click tool that is supposed to limit the damage when an employee visits a website loaded with malware. There is also a PhoneWise tool that is still in beta, which allows you to use the EliteBook to take calls and read and reply text messages through a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone. Unfortunately, many of these features were inaccurate in our tests, especially PhoneWise, which tried and failed to automatically unlock an £ 849.00 iPhone in Currys so that it could read the texts and answer the calls. Along with the recent revelations of serious security flaws in HP software, we want the company to simply deliver laptops without additional tools or utilities.

Ideal for business, not so good for games

It is a bit strange that HP has decided to equip the EliteBook 1040 G4 with seventh-generation Intel CPUs, since the eighth-generation CPUs are already available and appear quickly on new desktop and laptop computers. However, the company continually and often plays with its product line, so that the eighth generation models could appear soon. Meanwhile, an Intel Core i7-7820HQ processor running at 2.91 GHz powers our review unit, and while it may not be the latest and the best, it's far from complicated, especially along with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD.

The result is a very respectable score of 3,554 in the patented PCMark 8 benchmark, which measures video conferencing, web browsing and other common business tasks. That's better than other commercial machines with similar prices, such as the Dell Latitude 7380 (3,189) and the EliteBook 1040 G3 last year (3,204). The EliteBook 1040 G4 is equally expert in specialized tasks, such as video coding and image editing. He published class-leading results in our handbrake coding test (1 minute, 3 seconds) and our Photoshop simulation (2:59). Those scores are even slightly better than the MacBook Pro (1:06 in Handbrake and 2:59 in Photoshop), which has the same processor and is the gold standard in portable multimedia editing machines.

It is somewhat disappointing that high-end business ultraportables rely on the integrated graphics chips in the CPU, rather than the discrete graphics that you will find in game laptops with similar prices. The EliteBook 1040 G4 is no different, which means that games with intensive graphics are out of the question. The only exception is if you are willing to play the latest AAA titles in medium quality settings, which could result in frame rates of around 30 frames per second, as we saw in our Heaven and Valley game simulations. Ultimately, a business laptop will rarely be used to play anyway, so graphic capabilities are not a big concern.

The life of the battery has greatly improved with respect to the EliteBook 1040 G3, which lasted 6 hours and 55 minutes very short in our battery depletion test, which consists of continuously playing a local video file at 50% brightness. the screen. Despite its very bright screen, the EliteBook 1040 G4 handles more than five additional hours of battery compared to its predecessor, for a total of 12:35 in our test. Most of its competitors can manage more than 10 hours, so this is a much needed improvement, although it is still lagging behind the MacBook Pro (15:09) and the interchangeable battery system on the ThinkPad T470 (17: 39).

More affordable alternatives

The HP EliteBook 1040 G4 we tested is a very capable ultraportable business, with an elegant design, a powerful processor, an excellent display and a long-lasting battery. Unfortunately, all these capabilities have a high price, which makes it uncompetitive with conventional business laptops such as the Lenovo ThinkPad T470. The result is that most large companies will want to spend much less for a T470 or equivalent. Meanwhile, companies with mission-critical applications that need workstation functions such as EEC memory should probably spend a bit more for something like the HP ZBook 15 G4, our selection of publishers for the best mobile workstation.

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