Tech review: Thin but sturdy Elitebook hits right business note as HP ups its game in laptop market
HP Elitebook 840 G5, from €1,220
In many ways, laptops are now like cars: they vary a lot less than they used to. That said, there are still some differences worth paying attention to. Apple, for example, has been plagued with customer complaints over the keyboards on its most recent MacBook and MacBook Pro machines. (The company has instituted an official repairs programme for customers whose keyboards are displaying faulty behaviour.)
For business users, it's generally considered that a combination of portability (meaning thinness and light weight), power, battery life and reliability are the main objective.
In other words, the laptop has to be something you can whip out and work on whenever you need to without worrying about performance or juice.
Given those metrics, HP's latest Elitebook 840 G5 is a pretty decent option. This is especially so when you get the fully-loaded model, like the test sample I had, with a whopping 16GB of Ram, an Intel i7 processor and a 14-inch touchscreen. (This makes it a few hundred euro more than the base €1,200 price, but it may be worth it if you lean on your laptop a lot.)
HP has upped its game in laptops in recent times. It has had to. Quite apart from the MacBook Pro juggernaut, it has faced ferocious competition from a rejuvenated Dell, a relentless tide of powerful, thin models from Lenovo and some innovative new machines from Microsoft's Surface series.
But responded it has. The Elitebook 840 G5 is very handsomely engineered. It's thin but sturdy, with its mixture of metal and plastic giving it levity and solidity at the same time.
Its screen is a particularly strong point, being exceptionally bright and sharp. The 14-inch display on my test model was a touchscreen version at a 'full HD' (1080p) resolution. (I still find touchscreens on Windows laptops to be of limited use for typical business applications, unless you're one of the few who is comfortable using a stylus.)
The laptop's battery life is also very respectable, easily lasting me around seven hours of combined internet, word processing and video usage.
In terms of connections, there are a few USB ports, a USB-C (Thunderbolt) port and a 3.5mm headphone port.
The keyboard, a crucial element, was also comfortable and efficient to use.
The only minor quirk I could find was in physically opening the laptop. There is almost no way to do it without putting your finger or thumb on the top glass section of the screen. This results in a smudged rim almost constantly, a horror for anyone with OCD.
That aside, this is a top-notch working tool and one that no-one will have any complaints about.