HP EliteBook 800 Series Hands-on: Same Durability, Fresh Design

Slimmer, sleeker, stronger: that’s the name of the game at HP. The company has just announced the EliteBook 800 series business Ultrabooks. Starting at $799 and available now, the 800 series will come in 12 (EliteBook 820 G1), 14 (EliteBook 840 G1) and 15.6-inch (EliteBook 850 G1) varieties.

The first thing we noticed about the notebooks was their new look. The chassis is still made with a magnesium alloy, but the boxy, silver has been replaced with a sophisticated graphite black paint job inspired by high-performance automobiles. The notebooks are 40 percent slimmer and 28 percent lighter than their previous iterations. 

MORE: Best Laptops 2013

Despite the makeover, the EliteBook line retains its durability, meeting MIL-STD 810G test standards. That means that the notebooks can withstand a drop from 30 inches.  In an effort to shave off some inches, HP has ditched the serial port, modem and optical drive, but the notebooks have retained their VGA and Ethernet ports.  The EliteBooks also have the same side docking connector that was introduced with the EliteBook Folio 9470m Ultrabook. 

Each notebook can be configured with Intel’s fourth-generation (Haswell) processors starting with Core i3. The devices are outfitted with backlit, spill-resistant keyboards. The 14-inch model will feature an optional touch display and battery sleeve. HP claims that the sleeve will boost the notebook’s battery life from 12 hours to a whopping 33 hours.

The EliteBook 800 series will also feature HP’s new Sure Start technology. Featuring a self-healing BIOS, the proprietary technology utilizes a private flash drive that is electronically isolated from the CPU to store a copy of the BIOS. If the notebook’s BIOS is corrupted by malware, the computer will boot from the isolated BIOS and replace the damaged BIOS.

Another piece of security software is HP Trust Circles, which lets you send encrypted files to trusted contacts. A user can add a person’s contact info to a Trust Circle folder; anything dropped into that folder will be automatically encrypted, and only those contacts will be able to decrypt and read the files. The files can then be sent through any mail client, but the recipient must have the Circle Reader program installed on their device to read it. Users will be able to create up to 5 circles for free, and add a maximum of 5 members to each circle. Additional circles and users can be added via subscription.

The EliteBook 800 series is available now, and starts at $799. We’re looking forward to trying them out. 

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