HP Elitebook 8560p

HP Elitebook 8560p

HP’s upcoming EliteBook 8560p is chunky, solid and looks like a piece of industrial equipment. In a way, it is.

The magnesium alloy chassis is absolutely gorgeous, and feels like it could take some pretty hard knocks.

The display is 15.6 inches; we had a pre-production model in the lab, with a basic 1366 x 768 resolution. However, the production model will feature a more impressive 1600 x 900 panel.

The 8560p features an island keyboard reminiscent of the HP Envy 17, though sadly sans-backlighting. Instead, HP’s signature pop-out keyboard light sits beside the webcam. It’s a bit dinky, but it works.

There’s a full-size, standard-layout numeric keypad that proves a great time-saver for data entry tasks, or any number-centric activity. However, the main keyboard is let down by narrow arrow keys, with half-height up and down arrows.

The touchpad is massive, with slim buttons below it. A second set of buttons appears above it, which go with the ThinkPad-style pointing nub.

Like the Sony VAIO S, the EliteBook features one of Intel’s second-generation Core processors (Sandy Bridge). It’s actually a step up from the VAIO S’s i5 2520M – the EliteBook packs a Core i5 2540M. Its performance was only marginally better than the 2520M in our tests, but significantly better than the first-generation Core i5 and i7 offerings. In short, it offers impressive performance for the price point.

Graphics capabilities in our test model were solely from the 2540M’s on-chip Intel HD graphics. 3D Mark 11 refused to run, citing lack of DX 11 support. However, in Cinebench OpenGL tests it performed similarly to the Lenovo T510’s Nvidia GeForce 3100M dedicated graphics card. Against higher-end Nvidia and AMD solutions, it was left in the dust.

The production model will ship with an AMD Radeon HD 6470M, as found in the Sony VAIO S. Judging by the VAIO’s range-topping graphical performance, I’d say this is a very good thing if you need to work – or play – with graphically demanding apps.

Connectivity is fantastic. There are a total of 5 USB ports: two are USB 3, and one is shared with eSATA. There’s also IEEE 1394 (Firewire), giving you every high-speed connection you could need. There’s VGA and DisplayPort, wired and wireless networking, a dial-up modem and even an RS232 serial port.

HP has two docking stations available: a basic version for $339, and an advanced version for $397. Both give you USB, audio, PS2, Serial, Parallel, VGA, DVI, DisplayPort and LAN connectors, with the advanced version offering a bay for an optional hard-drive or optical drive.

Out of the box you get a three-year onsite support plan. Ensuring that on-site techs can help you quickly and efficiently, the rear of the EliteBook allows tool-free entry for maintenance and upgrades: just slide a release catch, and the entire rear panel slips off. It’s not easy to release the panel by mistake, but any particularly concerned owners or IT departments can install a screw that overrides the easy-open latch.

The HP Elitebook 8560p is a serious desktop replacement. I’m looking forward to testing the production model: with the addition of dedicated graphics, and the increased panel resolution, I imagine it will comfortably support graphical work.

The bulk and weight (nearly 3kg) make it unsuitable for frequent travellers (unless you’re doing regular longhaul flights that may make the extended super-long-life battery worth investing in). If you intend to work desk-bound with a dock, only moving down the hall to the meeting room, or carting your laptop home at the end of the day, this is going to give you the best value for money by far.

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