HP EliteBook 8440w Core i7 Notebook Review

Design and Build Quality

To put it bluntly, the HP EliteBook 8440w is meticulously constructed. The $1700 MSRP set our expectations extremely high; for that much money, we expected nothing short of world-class when it came to build quality, and that's exactly what we found after unpacking the machine. It's one thing to hear that this machine is built to military standards (MIL-STD 810G), but it's another to actually feel it.

There's no mistaking the rigidity as soon as you touch the 8440w. The top lid is extremely solid, the bottom chassis is built like a tank and there's no perceivable flex anywhere in the machine. What's crazy is that the starting weight is under 5lbs., yet somehow HP has managed to make the most of every ounce. It's the sturdiest 14" notebook we've ever touched, and we're really impressed that HP didn't have to make it 7+ pounds in order to accomplish that.

The LCD hinge was super solid, with the glide being ultra-smooth. It also lays completely flat for odd viewing in the field, but the viewing angles od the LCD left something to be desired (more on that later). The keyboard was also amongst the most solid that we've ever touched. You're probably tired of hearing "solid" at this point, but there's hardly more to say. HP took every possible component on the exterior and toughened it up. Even the lid latch is a solid piece of metal that depresses with a nice "click" to let you know the LCD is ready to be lifted.

HP calls the chassis a "DuraCase," and it's designed to withstand temperatures as high as 140 degrees F and as low as -20 degrees F. On top of all of that, HP has included a spill-resistant keyboard with drains (those two dimples beside the trackpad), and while we wouldn't recommend dropping a full pot of water on there, it should withstand the occasional coffee dump or condensation drip.

The 14" form factor is great; it's small enough to be highly mobile, but large enough to get a full-size keyboard in there. HP has included a larger-than-usual bezel, and while it's not the most stylish thing, we understand the reasoning for extra protection around the LCD given the nature of this machine.

Around the front, there's a Secure Digital card reader, integrated speakers and the lid latch (along with a few status LED lights), and around the sides you'll find a LightScribe-capable DVD burner, an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, Ethernet jack and 56k modem.

Along the rear is a power input, VGA and DisplayPort output, and on the other side you'll find three USB 2.0 ports, audio in/out ports, an ExpressCard slot and a mini-FireWire socket. HP also included a tracking pointer in the middle of the keyboard just like you'll find on ThinkPad notebooks, so business users who have remained loyal to Lenovo won't have to give that up if switching to HP here.

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