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HP EliteBook Folio 1040 Review – Finally, a Non Bland Enterprise Laptop

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Lets face it, business PCs tend to be boring with bland designs. The HP EliteBook 1040 G1 on the other hand, offers just about everything you want from a solid business laptop while offering the looks of a sleek PC that is sporting a more consumer-like design. Furthermore, the HP EliteBook is HP’s thinnest business Ultrabook ever. From the moment we picked it up, we were impressed with how thin and lightweight it is for a 14” laptop. To that effect, it weighs just 3.3 and measures just .63 inches thin.

Speaking of the design, the Elitebook 1040 takes cues from HP’s popular Envy series, which in turn takes cues from Apple’s MacBook Pro. And that isn’t a bad thing. The result is a super sleek and sophisticated laptop. But not only does it look good – the Elitebook 1040 is also built to last and withstand the elements. The moment you pick it up, you can feel how solid its magnesium and ABS plastic construction is. It has also been created to pass the MIL-STD 810G testing for drop, functional shock, vibration, dust, humidity, altitude, and extreme temperatures. That makes it perfect for both harsh enterprise environments and traveling businessmen who tend to treat their computers roughly.

In addition, the full-size keyboard is spill-resistant and has a drain. The keyboard also sports a set of tactile keys with plenty of spacing in between keys and the keyboard is also backlit. Beyond the keyboard, the large pressure-sensitive multi-gesture touchpad helps alleviate the need for a touchscreen when using Windows 8, however, we still feel like a touchscreen should be standard nowadays – especially at this price point.

The 14” display on the 1040 offers the perfect balance for those on the go – it’s large enough to work comfortably, but not too large to become un-travel friendly. The display is a LED-backlit FHD anti-glare UWVA 1080p display. This is good news to users who don’t like the glossy display that is found on most consumer laptops these days. It’s also a very good, nearly excellent display with accurate color reproduction, and bright visuals that are easy on the eyes. It’s just a bit weak when it comes to viewing angles and its colors aren’t super vivid. And unfortunately, a touchscreen display is not standard, but it is an optional upgrade. A non-touchscreen display is fine if you plan on using Windows 7 on the Elitebook 1040. But anyone planning to use Windows 8 – should not, even for a moment, consider not opting for a touchscreen display.

Our system came powered by a Core i5 vPro (i5-4300U) processor, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. As far as benchmarks are concerned, the system earned a PCMark 8 Work Conventional Score of 2760 and a Creative Conventional score of 2097. Overall, the system feels very peppy and offers capable performance. If you’re looking for even more raw power, you’ll want to configure it with a Core i7 processor.

When it comes to features, the EliteBook is no slouch either and it’s also pretty future proof. Our system came with built in NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and it can optionally configured to include HP Mobile Broadband with 3G and 4G LTE. There are also plenty of ports, including 2 USB 3.0 ports (one which can be used for charging when the system is off!) a docking connector, display port, a microSD card of RAM, and a VGA and ethernet dongle is included in the box. The system also sports a convenient dedicated wireless button and dedicated mute button. HP also has an optional UltraSlim Docking Station accessory available for connecting to accessories and printers without the hassle of connecting individual components.

The battery life, according to HP, is expected to last up to 12 hours, but we experienced over 6 hours with Wi-Fi and the highest brightness setting turned on. Overall, battery life is solid, but not the best out there.

When it comes to multimedia chops, the EliteBook packs in HD Audio with DTS Studio Sound Audio. These speakers are pretty good but nothing to write home about. The 720p HD webcam is also a bit mediocre  when it comes to imaging performance.

Want to keep your enterprise or business data safe? The Elitebook has everything you could want to lock down data. That includes a built-in fingerprint reader, a TPM 1.2 Embedded Security Chip, an integrated Smart Card Reader and a security lock slot, along with HP’s own security software.

Our system came running Window 7 Pro, but had a Windows 8 Pro DVD in the box, should you choose to install Windows 8. We like having the option to run either operating system, and we’re sure that IT staff will especially appreciate that. That said, we think that it is kind of silly to include DVDs without a DVD drive – after all, so many people these days don’t have access to DVD drives anymore. And at this price, we would like to see all of those OS and driver files bundled onto a USB key. Fortunately the system does not come with much bloatware and it is quite clean in terms of preloaded software. This is something that Enterprise environments and IT staff will surely appreciate, as it ensures that the system runs smoothly right off the bat.

Verdict

The HP Elitebook Folio 1040 is a very robust and capable business laptop. It’s also one of the nicest enterprise / business laptops that you can find. To that effect, the 1040 is a system that has been designed with enterprise in mind but is also an excellent choice for small businesses. We very much appreciate its attractive yet tough form factor that won’t weigh down your bag. It’s also future proof and packed with all the security features an enterprise environment could wish for – just make sure to opt for the touchscreen or you’ll likely regret it later on.

You can pick up the Core i7, 8GB, 256GB configuration from Amazon for $1899, and find other configurations on HP’s web site where pricing begins at $1,299.

Buy it!

The Good: UltraSlim docking stations are available, truly IT Friendly, feature rich (NFC, Bluetooth, fingerprint reader), 4G option available, and comes running Windows 7 Professional 64 or Windows 8 Pro. Very good performance, very good anti-glare display, 3 year warranty, lots of security features, excellent and tough build quality yet it still manages to be very lightweight and thin. Rugged and can withstand the elements, keyboard is backlit and spill-proof, and large pressure-sensitive touchpad.

The Bad: Touchscreen is not standard, a bit pricey, screen has a bit of flex and not the best battery life. We would like to see a 3K resolution option for the display